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Gale fired up for Hampshire trip

— 20 April 2017

Yorkshire are desperate to even things up when they tackle Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl tomorrow.

The 2014 and 2015 county champions were stung in the opening round of the Specsavers County Championship at Headingley earlier this month.

Having taken a 132-run first-innings lead, Yorkshire could not prevent Hampshire from hitting back with the ball to set themselves a target of 320.

They achieved it deep into the third day to win by four wickets, and they followed that up by having the better of their second round draw at home against defending champions Middlesex over the Easter weekend.

Former Yorkshire captain and current Hampshire coach Craig White has said he expects the White Rose to “come at us hard”.

The visitors have been buoyed by a fine all-round performance to beat Warwickshire by an innings and 88 runs at Edgbaston.

And they also have England Test stars Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root available.

But they haven’t forgotten!

“Chalky’s right, we were wounded about what happened given we drove the vast majority of the game,” said coach Andrew Gale.

“We’re going down there to win, that’s for sure.”

Hampshire have struggled at the wrong end of Division One in recent years.

Last year, they were even relegated before Durham’s financial problems meant a reprieve.

But, this year, they are much stronger having recruited South African duo Kyle Abbott and Rilee Rossouw on Kolpak deals, although the latter misses this clash with a finger injury.

West Indian Fidel Edwards is also on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Seamer Abbott took seven wickets in the second innings at Headingley and nine in the match.

He added seven in the match against Middlesex.

Rossouw scored an important 47 in the second innings chase at Headingley before hitting 99 against Middlesex as Hampshire claimed an 82-run lead on first innings.

“I’ve said from the outset that any team in this division can win the title,” said Gale.

“You only need to look at Warwickshire. They’ve got a fantastic squad, but they’ve lost the first two games by an innings.

“Hampshire have recruited really well, especially with Kyle Abbott, he’s a fantastic addition.

“They’re a good team who are full of confidence, but we’re playing some good cricket at the moment as well.”

Root and Bairstow will slot in to form an incredibly strong looking Yorkshire top six.

“To have two guys like that, world-class players right on top of their game, it’s going to strengthen us no doubt,” said Gale, who will change his batting order as a result.

“We have one of the best number threes in the world available, so I’d doubt Peter Handscomb will bat there.

“He’ll come in down the order I’d imagine, and that’s a good place to be in as a team.”

Like Gale, Yorkshire captain Gary Ballance is relishing the contest, and he echoed his coach’s comments.

He added: “Hampshire played really well in that fourth innings to win the match, and you’ve got to give them credit. They’re a good side playing excellent cricket.

“But we’d like to put in a good performance and reverse that result.

“We have more guys fit now, bowlers wise, and obviously we have Root and Bairstow coming back for this game. They are pretty decent players, aren’t they?

“It has all the makings for a really good game.”