Gale blown away at meeting Sangakkara
Having taken tips from Kumar Sangakkara at a training camp in Sri Lanka, Andrew Gale hopes he can be “half the player” his fellow left-handed batsman is.
Yorkshire captain Gale had plenty of questions for Sangakkara, whose batting average from 115 Tests exceeds 55, at Colombo’s P Sara Oval and at the former Sri Lanka skipper’s house over dinner.
Gale paid his own way to join last month’s trip, which was mainly for Yorkshire’s up-and-coming players but was also a chance for newly-signed seamer Jack Brooks to continue his rehabilitation from an Achilles injury.
Thanks to the contacts of former Sri Lanka assistant Paul Farbrace, one of two Yorkshire coaches on the trip that included a game with a Sri Lanka Board XI, the tourists were also hosted for dinner by Mahela Jayawardene.
“It was fantastic, Sri Lanka, I was there for nine days,” Gale told ecb.co.uk. “It provided an opportunity to be in the nets most days and we played one match. So to work on some specifics, some technical specifics was really good.
“We got to chat to Sangakkara and Jayawardene, and it was a great experience not just for myself but for some of the academy boys as well.”
Considering the seamer-friendly conditions he normally plays in, Gale’s first-class batting average is a respectable 36.5 - yet some way behind Sangakkara’s 48.5.
“Sangakkara is a left-hander,” Gale continued. “He’s got the same sort of movements as I have when I bat.
“I picked his brains on a few things and he made batting sound pretty simple. If I can be half the player that he is, I’ll be quite happy.”
Gale is due to fly to Barbados on Monday with the rest of Yorkshire’s available first-team squad, including Brooks whom he believes will be in good shape following his Sri Lanka excursion.
“Jack Brooks went out solely to get some confidence with his Achilles. He had an Achilles injury last year and he wants to be ahead of the game going into Barbados,” he said.
“And also the academy boys, for one of the academy lads it was the first time he had ever been on a flight. It was a fantastic opportunity for them guys to really test their skills on the sub-continent.”
“I think it’s no coincidence that the teams who won stuff - in Hampshire, Derbyshire, Warwickshire and ourselves - last year, we all went to Barbados,” Gale observed.
“It provides you a good opportunity to get ahead of the game really. You can’t guarantee the weather in England at the minute and with the season starting earlier, then Barbados gives an opportunity to get some grass and game time out in the middle.”
“I’m very proud when I look at the players and the captains that have gone before. To be leading out the side in the 150th year is massive for myself,” he revealed.
“It was a dream come true becoming Yorkshire captain but to captain the 150th anniversary, the fairytale’s there if we go and win the championship.”
For the last 25 years Anthony McGrath has been at the club, but the White Rose head into this season without the batsman who retired last month aged 37.
“Mags has been a great player over the years for Yorkshire. He’s played some fantastic innings and he’s been a character around the dressing room,” Gale explained.
“He’ll be sadly missed but we’ve got to move on from that now and someone’s got to stand up and get the runs that he’s scored over the last 10-15 years.”
Other batsmen Yorkshire will be missing, for much of the season at least, are England duo Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root.
Both youngsters are establishing themselves in all forms of the international game, meaning minimal time with their county.
“They’ve done fantastically well,” Gale enthused. “Jonny Bairstow last summer had a great time of it, the way he went about his business under pressure against South Africa was tremendous.
“And Joe Root looks like he’s well equipped for international cricket. He’s really taken to it and long may that continue.”
Although Root is currently playing in the Test side ahead of Bairstow, Gale concluded: “They’re both young enough - they’re both in their early 20s - I think it’s only a matter of time before they’re both playing in that team.”