Tykes benefit from winter work

Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale has paid tribute to the staff at the Darren Lehmann Cricket Academy in Australia for helping to develop some of the county's star players.

Ajmal Shahzad, Adam Lyth, David Wainwright and Oliver Hannon-Dalby have all spent time at the centre in Adelaide in recent winters, and now it has aided the progression of a White Rose debutant.

Joe Root will make his County Championship bow in the season opener against Worcestershire at New Road today due to Anthony McGrath's absence through injury.

The 20 year-old batsman has just spent five months under the watchful eye of Lehmann, working on his fitness and playing grade cricket for local side, Prospect CC.

"I think that camp's worked pretty well for us over the last few years," said Gale. "We sent Ajmal there a few years back and he came back in tremendous shape. It has been a similar story with the likes of Olly, Wainers, Lythy and now Joe.

"It's more of a fitness camp rather than cricket, but there's still some valuable cricket lessons to be learnt.

"It probably gives players that kick up the backside they need when they're young.

"Boofer (Lehmann) was there for a little bit, but I think he was working alongside other coaches.

"Seeing Boof there will be an inspiration to the lads because he's such a big name in Yorkshire cricket - a legend.

"The reports we had back on Joe were outstanding. Since he's come back, he's really looked the part."

Root said: "I feel in great knick, and going out there was a massive help to my game.

"I feel fitter, sharper and in a good place to start the season.

"It was pretty tough on the fitness of things, but playing cricket through the winter was a massive advantage."

McGrath has travelled with the squad to continue his rehabilitation from knee surgery.

He suffered a setback with a nerve issue in his lower back during the last fortnight, but Gale said he is not too far away now.

There is good news for Jonny Bairstow in that he will start the season as first choice wicketkeeper.

The 21-year-old has fended off competition from 2011 beneficiary Gerard Brophy, who will play at New Road as a specialist batsman.

"Jonny will take the gloves because I feel as though the time's right for him to be given a good go now," explained Gale.

"He's been waiting in the wings for a while - but, if he's going to be the keeper at Yorkshire for the next ten years, he needs that experience.

"I spoke to Gerard around Christmas time and told him that he needed to work hard on his fielding if he was going to get in the team. He has done.

"He was quite impressive in the field this week - and he's in the form of his life with the bat."

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