ANDREW GALE is relishing the prospect of Yorkshire’s first County Championship match under floodlights.
The Yorkshire first-team coach has given a thumbs-up to the move, which will see his side face Surrey in a day/night game at Headingley from June 26.
Gale believes it is a positive step by the England and Wales Cricket Board, who have introduced a round of floodlit Championship fixtures to broaden the competition’s appeal and to help players better prepare for the first day/night Test in England next year.
England play a floodlit Test against the West Indies at Edgbaston from August 17, with floodlit Test cricket having already proved successful in places such as Australia.
After next summer’s fixtures were announced by the ECB, Gale said: “I think it’s already been proved around the world how popular day/night cricket is.
“It’s led to increased crowds, and there’s been some very good cricket played as well.
“I think it’s a good move, and it will be fantastic to see the lights on at Headingley with a pink ball.
“It’s going to be an iconic occasion.”
Yorkshire are one of nine counties to host a floodlit Championship game along with First Division rivals Essex, Hampshire and Warwickshire, plus Division Two sides Durham, Glamorgan, Northants, Notts and Sussex.
The Surrey match is one of five Championship fixtures at Headingley instead of the usual six, with each county losing one home fixture after the tournament was cut from 16 games to 14 to create more space in the schedule.
Yorkshire have retained their two home Championship matches at Scarborough, which will host the visits of Somerset and promoted Essex.
Scarborough’s two annual one-day games have been switched to Headingley, which will now stage four group matches in the Royal London One-Day Cup and the customary seven in the NatWest T20 Blast.
“I can see why the ECB has done it, to go to 14 Championship games,” said Gale.
“It will give the players more time to recover.
“But, from a personal point of view, I was in favour of 16 games.
“The Championship is a great competition in my opinion.”
Yorkshire, who narrowly failed to win a hat-trick of Championships last season, start their quest for a third title in four years against Hampshire at Headingley from April 7.
It is a repeat of their opening match last season, which ended in a draw.
“Any first game is tough because everyone’s got expectations after putting in all the hard work during the winter,” continued Gale.
“Hampshire proved that last year when we played them at our place; they performed well in that game and showed their quality.
“I’ve said for a long time that First Division cricket is strong cricket, and you’ve got to be on your game no matter which team you’re playing against to get a result.
“Hopefully, we can hit the ground running and challenge strongly again.”
Gale pronounced himself pleased with the fixture list overall, which brings greater clarity to the calendar.
There is less flitting back and forth between competitions, with the 50-over and T20 played in blocks, although the Championship remains a stop-start affair.
Yorkshire start their season on April 2 when they host Leeds-Bradford UCCE in a three-day game at Headingley.
The season officially starts on March 26 when MCC take on champions Middlesex in the annual curtain-raiser in Abu Dhabi, with the first county/university contests starting in England two days later.
“I much prefer to have the formats in blocks as that generally allows for more preparation time,” said Gale.
“There seems to be a much better spread of games, and I’m happy with the fixtures overall.
“The only thing that causes us a little bit of concern, I guess, is that we play Somerset in the Championship at Scarborough and then we play our first two Twenty20s the following two days, but that’s nothing new to us.
“We’ve had that type of thing in the past, and it’s the same for everyone, I guess.”
Yorkshire have been outstanding in the Championship of late but Gale wants them to compete for silverware on all fronts.
Last summer, the club reached the semi-finals of both the 50-over and 20-over competitions.
“All the competitions are a priority, and we’re desperate to get our hands on a white-ball trophy,” he said.
“It’s something that I’m working on now, putting plans in place, and making sure that the training we do before and after Christmas gives us confidence in our white-ball game.
“I just think we need to be a little bit braver in white-ball cricket and less one-dimensional, because we’ve definitely got the experience in there.
“Adam Lyth showed the way forward last season in the positive way that he played, and I think we just need to play a bit more like that in general and be a bit more fearless.