Surrey v Yorkshire: Gale sets winning standard to rescue Yorkshire
ANDREW GALE insists that Yorkshire cannot afford to take anything for granted as they seek to shake off the spectre of relegation.
The county’s first-team coach believes that they are one of “four or five teams” who could yet drop down to Division Two.
Yorkshire take on Surrey at the Oval on Tuesday targeting a win that would significantly ease their relegation fears.
They play bottom-club Warwickshire at Headingley next week in their final home match before ending the season against champions-elect Essex at Chelmsford.
Even fourth-placed Surrey are not mathematically safe, and Gale said: “The table is very tight. There’s four or five teams who could yet go down.
“We can’t afford to take anything for granted.
“We’re going into the last three games with the aim of trying to win all three; that’s got to be the mentality.
“We’re not going into them to try and draw and pick up points where we can.
“We need to get some wins on the board as soon as possible, and hopefully we can start this week.”
Fifth-placed Yorkshire are only 13 points ahead of seventh-placed Somerset, who occupy the final relegation position.
With a maximum of 24 points on offer for a win, and with only 26 points separating Somerset from third-placed Hampshire, it highlights the congested nature of the division and the predicament in which Yorkshire find themselves.
“We are where we are because of the cricket we’ve played, simple as that,” said Gale.
“We haven’t played anywhere near our best cricket this season, so we’re where we are because of some poor performances.
“At the same time, we can’t afford to look back now.
“All we can do is look forward and concentrate on the final three games.”
Yorkshire will be without two key players for the match at the Oval, with Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid now unavailable for the rest of the season due to England white-ball duty.
Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow and David Willey are also away with the national side.
Yorkshire have named three spinners in their 15-man squad in the form of Azeem Rafiq, Karl Carver and Jack Shutt.
It is likely that Shutt, a 20-year-old from Barnsley, is being taken along for the experience after some impressive performances in the second team.
On missing Plunkett and Rashid, who both played in last week’s match against Middlesex, Gale said: “It’s frustrating, more so with Liam because he gives a slightly different dimension to our attack as someone who can bowl over 85mph.
“Rash probably hasn’t hit his straps and bowled as much as he would have liked in the last few weeks, to be honest.
“But it’s disappointing when you get someone like Liam back to his best after the injuries he’s had to then wave him goodbye to go and play for England.
“It’s frustrating, but, at the end of the day, we just have to get on with it.”
Yorkshire head into the game on the back of a morale-boosting draw with Middlesex at Headingley.
That game featured an improved batting performance from the hosts, who have struggled in that department all summer and who scored 358 in their first innings against a good attack in testing conditions.
“If we bat like that, we know we’ve got the bowling attack to back that up, so that will give us a lot of confidence going forward,” said Gale.
“The mentality that we showed towards our batting, the price that we put on our wickets, was very good.
“We probably had the worst of conditions – they were typical, tough Headingley conditions to bat in – but I thought we dug in really well. When it’s tough like that you can’t just hit your way out of it, and we worked really hard to grind it out.”
Surrey have drawn nine of their 11 Championship games, including the day/night match at Headingley in June that was ruined by the weather.
They welcome back opening batsman Mark Stoneman after England’s Test series against the West Indies and the Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara, who has been playing in the Caribbean Premier League.
However, Surrey are without Jason Roy and Tom Curran for the rest of the season due to England duty.
“They’ve had a sort of a mixed bag year as well,” said Gale.
“They’ve got Stoneman back, who’s a key player for them, and also Sangakkara.
“I’d expect it to be a slow, low, spinning surface. We’ve got a few spinning options, but whether we play two spinners will depend on what the pitch is like.”
Yorkshire are unbeaten in their last nine Championship matches against Surrey, winning two and drawing seven.
However, Surrey have lost only once to Yorkshire in their last 19 home games, winning six and drawing 12.