Gale 'can't wait' for Australia trip
There is arguably no player in the English game that has seen his stock rise over the last 12 months as much as Andrew Gale.
Indeed, this time last year, he was a surprise inclusion in England’s Performance Programme squad for the tour of South Africa, after which he was asked to captain the Lions’ tour of the United Arab Emirates.
The ensuing 12 months have seen Gale become the youngest player in the post-war era to be handed the captaincy at Yorkshire, where he led with great aplomb as they narrowly missed out on a first County Championship title in nine years.
Meanwhile, the 26-year-old’s performances with the bat have been equally impressive - he averaged 46 in the four-day game last season, scoring three centuries - prompting observers to tout him for full England honours.
That will have to wait for now, however, as Gale prepares for to represent the EPP once again - this time in Australia.
“I am really excited for the trip,” he told ecb.co.uk/video. “To shadow an Ashes squad and to possibly take some sort of part in it will be a fantastic experience and I just can’t wait to get on the plane to be honest.
“It will be difficult - really tough, but it will be enjoyable and well worth your while. It’s an opportunity to take your game to the next level.
"How often do you get the chance in a county season to go to Australia for five weeks and move your game on?
“I see it as more of an opportunity than hard work.”
The tour of Australia could prove significant for another reason because if one of England’s frontline batsman was to get injured, the selectors would almost certainly look for a replacement in the EPP.
Gale is all too aware of the importance of impressing so that, if a chance comes along, his will be the name on everybody's lips.
“From a cricketing point of view, we are next in line - you don’t wish injuries on anyone, but, you know, we are chomping at the bit; everyone in this squad has trained really hard,” he added.
“If that chance comes up you want to make sure that you’re the one that is knocking on that door, so I think it will be a great experience and I reckon a lot of the lads will take a lot from it.
“Anyone in the squad is only one injury away from playing in the team for the Ashes and it does cross your mind - we saw last winter, with the likes of Craig Kieswetter and Steven Finn, injuries went down and they were next in line.
“You have got to put yourself in that position, where you’re the one who is next in line, so it is exciting.”
Given England’s recent form, it could still be a while before Gale achieves his ambition of securing a first Test cap.
However, he believes that, should that time come, his ability to draw on the the "fantastic" set-up in the EPP will stand him in good stead.
“From just being around the environment, you get a feel for what standards you need to reach in international cricket,” he added. “In country cricket, you get caught in the bubble of just being on the country treadmill really.
“To get a taste of what international cricket is the biggest thing of what I got out of last winter; not just technically, but also physically and mentally and the support you get from the staff in the set-up is fantastic.
“You cannot help but make strides forward as a cricketer.”