SEVEN Yorkshire players, including captain Andrew Gale and new signing Jack Brooks, are heading to Sri Lanka this month for an eight-day training camp as they gear up for the new county season.
The group, which also includes youngsters Alex Lees, Jack Leaning, Eddie Wilson, Barney Gibson and Karl Carver, will be led by second XI coach Paul Farbrace, a former assistant coach of the Sri Lanka national team.
But, originally, the camp at the P. Sara Oval in Colombo was not the county’s first choice.
They had planned to travel to India before the Indian national board threw their rattle out of the pram after England’s Test series success in December.
The BCCI, notoriously difficult customers, are unhappy that young English players such as Joe Root have gained experience of Indian conditions to the detriment of their national teams.
They have therefore blocked county camps for Yorkshire, Durham, Kent, Hampshire, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire, affecting approximately 30 players.
Both Gale, who is paying his own costs to travel to Sri Lanka between February 18 and 28, and Brooks have described the Indians’ stance as “a bit bizarre” and “a bit petty”.
But it may well have worked in Yorkshire’s favour because Farbrace’s contacts look to have secured the help of Sri Lanka stars Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara to talk to the players, while Brooks could also call on the help of former Northamptonshire team-mate Chaminda Vaas.
Gale explained: “Originally it was supposed to be India, but they won’t let any teams in now because of England’s success.
I think it’s all a bit bizarre.
“It’s probably worked out for the best because the Sri Lanka trip looks a better option. Farby has got loads of links, and I think he’s hoping to get people like (Kumar) Sangakkara and (Mahela) Jayawardene to come and chat to us.
“Literally, we’ll be netting from 8.30 in the morning right through to early evening. It will be pretty intense, but ideal preparation for me and the guys.”
And fast bowler Brooks, in the final stages of a recovery from an Achilles injury, echoed Gale’s thoughts by adding: “I think it’s a bit petty more than anything. But, to be honest, the Sri Lanka trip looks better. So maybe it’s been a blessing for us.”
The rest of the Yorkshire squad will have the week off at home in the midst of the trip, but they will be back in training before heading to Barbados for their full pre-season tour on March 11.
Farbrace, who will be joined in Sri Lanka by development manager Richard Damms, added: “Our batsmen will be able to take their winter indoor sessions to batting on grass. This was one of the reasons why Andrew Gale wanted to attend.
“For the bowlers, in particular Jack Brooks who didn’t play much cricket during the second half of last season, they will be able to get in the nets and get back to some proper bowling fitness.
“We want Jack to hit the new season fully prepared and become one of our main strike bowlers as we aim for success on all fronts.”