Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale is hoping a winter of grade cricket in Australia will provide him with the perfect preparation for the 2014 county season.
The left-handed batsman, who passed 1,000 LV= County Championship runs for the first time in his career during the most recent summer, heads to Melbourne next week to play for the Dandenong club, who are captained by Darren Pattinson, the ex-Nottinghamshire and England fast bowler.
Gale will play at the weekends and help with coaching of the Dandenong juniors during the week before returning to Headingley in late February to participate in the latter stages of pre-season with the White Rose.
“I went out there as a young player, at 21-years-old, to play grade cricket in Sydney,” said the 29-year-old, who will turn 30 later this month. “I had an absolute stinking five months out there. I hardly scored a run.
“But, in the scheme of things, it was probably one of the best things that happened to me. Up to that point, my career had been plain sailing. So going out there really toughened me up.
“I just felt like I wanted to go back and prove a point, as much to myself as anything. I want to go out there and dominate.
“I’ll be returning in the last week of February in time for the latter stages of pre-season with Yorkshire.
“I wanted to go away last winter (to New Zealand). But because of the hip injury I sustained during the summer, and with the Champions League having just finished, the physio wanted me to get that sorted back at home.
“I feel like in going away, I’ll be able to really concentrate hard on my fitness in sunnier weather. It’s also a good opportunity for my family as well. My little girl’s two-years-old, so this is possibly the last opportunity we’ll get to do this.
“I also want to develop my cricket. I usually try to go away around February time anyway. I went to Sri Lanka last winter, and I’m the sort of player who enjoys playing cricket all year round. I experienced that when I played for the Lions.
“If I can develop my game, I’ll come back in form, I’m sure.”
Gale scored 1,067 runs in the 2013 Championship season, including a score of 272 against Nottinghamshire at Scarborough and two other hundreds.