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Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale defends strength of northern county scene
YORKSHIRE may have won more Twenty20 matches this season than any of the other three teams present at Friends Life t20 Finals Day this Saturday, yet they are still classed as the outsiders to clinch the first piece of silverware on offer in the English domestic calendar.
The White Rose county won seven of their ten group matches to finish top of the North Division before beating Worcestershire in the quarter-finals to make it eight from 11.
Semi-final opponents Sussex have won seven of their 11 fixtures so far, while Hampshire and Somerset have won six.
But Yorkshire are still priced at 7-2 outsiders with a number of bookmakers to win the event.
Reasons for this could be that their appearance at Cardiff will represent their first at Finals Day, whereas the other three teams are seasoned veterans in that regard, while Yorkshire’s star man Mitchell Starc is unavailable.
Another reason could be that pundits up and down the land, led by views from the Sky Sports commentary box, believe that the South Division is seen as the group of death with five of the six teams in that section having previously won the competition.
Only Kent, whom Yorkshire were facing at Canterbury last night in a Clydesdale Bank 40 match, have not won the FLt20, whereas only Somerset from the Midlands/Wales/West Division and Leicestershire (twice) from the North are past champions.
However, Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale believes the North Division in particular is not given the credit it deserves.
“I think the Northern group cops a lot of stick” he said.
“Every time I watch a match on telly I hear about this super southern group, or whatever all the commentators call it. “It’s like ‘the talent in this group is unbelievable, it’s the hardest group to get through’.
“But there are some really good teams in the North. The likes of Durham and Lancashire take some beating. “Yes, Leicestershire did really, really well to go and win it against the odds last year, but it’s different cricket in the south because the majority of their grounds are quite small with some flat pitches.
“Essex and Sussex play on postage stamps, as do Somerset in their group, whereas Durham, Lancashire, ourselves and Notts all play on Test grounds. It’s different cricket.”
• Yorkshire have suffered a blow ahead of Saturday’s Friends Life t20 Finals Day with the news that Tim Bresnan has been made unavailable by England.
Despite Jonny Bairstow being released from England’s one-day squad to face Sussex in the first semi-final at Cardiff, Bresnan has not due to a heavy workload.
The news comes as a major surprise to Yorkshire, who named the all-rounder in a 16-man squad on Tuesday. It is understood the decision will be reassessed after the first one-day international against South Africa at the same venue tomorrow, but that would leave Jason Gillespie and Gale with a tricky decision seen as they will be preparing to be without him over the next two days.
Fellow all-rounder Rich Pyrah now looks set to face Sussex (11am).