Bairstow's brilliance gets Gale captaincy off to winning start

Warwickshire 217 & 347 Yorkshire 274 & 291-6 <i>(Yorks win by four wickets)</i>
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The Independent Online

Andrew Gale may not have the miles on the clock that some of his predecessors have brought to the Yorkshire captaincy but he is wise enough already to know that a winning start is no more than a comfortable introduction to the most unforgiving leadership role on the county circuit.

"It is nice, but we have won our first game before and ended up battling relegation so we will not be getting ahead of ourselves," Gale said. "This team is a long way from the finished article."

Yet, if there is to be relegation this season – and with a potential restructuring of the Championship programme there may not be – it could be that yesterday's defeat of a potential rival in the bottom half of the First Division table proves vital.

Yorkshire secured only two victories last season to Warwickshire's three. They are a rare commodity. Moreover, the increase from 14 points to 16 for a win gives it added value.

Yorkshire congratulated themselves for reaping a reward for positive cricket when the match swung their way after lunch yesterday, but Warwickshire were probably responsible for their own downfall, letting their discipline collapse after reaching lunch with the outcome squarely in the balance.

At that moment Yorkshire, 57-1 overnight chasing 291, had lost four wickets in an hour and a quarter, slipping from 82-1 to 130-5.

Neil Carter, the left-armer, had bowled a fine spell from the end where the pavilion used to be and Imran Tahir, the leg-spinner, appeared to be ready to make a match-winning debut. They had two wickets each, with Gale himself gone for a duck.

But the change after the interval could not have been more extreme. With Jacques Rudolph solid at one end, Jonathan Bairstow, the wicketkeeper-batsman, attacked at the other and the home side's bowling fell apart. Chris Woakes, the prospective England all-rounder, is unlikely to have had many worse afternoons with the ball.

The upshot was that Rudolph and Bairstow plundered 143 runs in less than two hours by the time the latter pulled Carter to midwicket for 81, by which point only 15 more were needed.

"We were a bit worried at lunch because Imran Tahir was bowling well but we felt if we were positive we could get something out of the game and when Jonny [Bairstow] started playing his shots, it took the game away from them," Gale said.

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