The battle for places has already begun, says Yorkshire skipper Andrew Gale

Adam Lyth, pictured, is in direct competition with Alex Lees for a place in the Yorkshire starting XI

Alex Lees

First published in Sport by

Andrew Gale expects to be thrown a curveball during Yorkshire’s ongoing pre-season tour of Sri Lanka with regards to team selection ahead of next month’s LV= County Championship opener against Somerset.

The White Rose skipper says the majority of his team picks itself for Taunton, but there are still some unknowns due to things such as England player availability.

Yorkshire play some red ball cricket in Colombo before returning to England on March 28, where they play two three-day friendlies against Leeds/Bradford MCCU and Northamptonshire before April 13.

Competition for places is fierce in all departments of Yorkshire’s squad, especially amongst the fast bowlers, and that curveball could come from someone such as Bradford’s pace bowler Moin Ashraf.

Joe Root’s six weeks out with a thumb injury, meanwhile, has uncomplicated things somewhat at the top of the batting order.

Asked whether he has an idea of his first Championship starting XI, Gale said: “It’s difficult at this moment because we don’t know the availability of someone like Tim Bresnan. It also looks like Joe Root is not going to be available.

“But there’s probably six, seven or eight lads who pick themselves. Mind you, there’s always a surprise in pre-season, someone who comes out of nowhere by scoring a couple of hundreds or taking a couple of five-fors.

“This season more than ever, we’re going to have a few selection problems.

“Alex Lees and Adam Lyth are probably battling against each other for a spot a little bit. Leesy’s had a good winter and Lythy is looking as fit and as well prepared as I’ve ever seen him.

“The Root situation will make that slightly easier. If Tim Bresnan comes back, it might be a seamer that gets left out.”

Gale also believes the new county schedule, which sees the NatWest T20 Blast played throughout the summer and the one-day Royal London Cup in a block towards the end, will make success in all three competitions a more realistic target.

Yorkshire showed last year that such a target was unattainable with a more cluttered schedule.

He added: “We went down the route last year of Pro40 being the bottom of our list in terms of winning competitions. We wanted to rest our lads with the priority being the Championship.

“But with the schedule the way it is this season, I think achieving something in all three competitions is going to be very realistic.”

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