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Gale back as Yorkshire resume title charge

Andrew Gale is back for Yorkshire as they resume their bid for back-to-back LV= County Championship Division One titles against Durham at Scarborough.

The 31-year-old has missed Yorkshire’s last four Royal London One-Day Cup matches and returns to action having relinquished the captaincy in limited-overs cricket.

Gale has now fully recovered from the wrist injury which kept him sidelined and is keen on helping Yorkshire stretch their 34-point lead at the top.

“We have a crucial four days against Durham and we’re looking to play some good cricket,” he told the county’s official website.

“Then we’re fortunate in that we have an eight-day break from which I hope we can emerge rejuvenated for the last one-day game and the back end of the championship programme.”

Yorkshire are boosted by the return of Liam Plunkett and Adil Rashid, who have been made available by England after missing out on selection for the fourth Investec Test.

Gary Ballance will feature in the championship for the first time since June, while Jack Brooks is rested.

Brooks took six wickets as Yorkshire wrapped up a comprehensive win over Durham in the reverse fixture on the back of a record partnership between Jonny Bairstow and Tim Bresnan.

Tykes opener Alex Lees said: “They’re a real proud team and that’s clear to see for anybody watching them, so to beat them at Chester-le-Street was a real achievement. In fact, that victory in late June was probably our best win of the season.

“They’re a really talented team and have some dangerous bowlers and batsmen. But we know what we need to do and we’re just looking to look after our own games and hope to be there or thereabouts come day four.”

Durham, who are in one-day action today, sit 38 points behind Yorkshire in third spot and have gone three matches without a win in four-day cricket.

At the other end of the table, Worcestershire will aim to put their One-Day Cup woes behind them when they take on Nottinghamshire at New Road.

Worcestershire have failed to win a match in the 50-over format this season and are fighting to avoid relegation in the County Championship, although they do have a NatWest T20 Blast quarter-final to look forward to.

All-rounder Jack Shantry insisted there will be no one-day hangover against Notts.

“Although most of our players play both formats, I think we can make a distinction between the two competitions,” he told ecb.co.uk.

“Things haven’t gone as we’d like in the one-day competition but we’ve actually been playing really well in the championship. We played against a strong Yorkshire side and missed out on avoiding the follow-on by one run, and I think if we’d avoided the follow-on we’d have drawn that game.

“We’re all very confident going into the game against Notts. They’ve got a very strong batting line-up – someone like Alex Hales can take a game away from you if he gets in. But if we can keep their batsmen quiet, we’ve got a good chance.”

Captain Daryl Mitchell is likely to miss his first game for four years after suffering a hamstring injury against Surrey on Tuesday, but Alex Gidman returns after a spell out with a concussion.

Like Durham, it will be a quick turnaround for Nottinghamshire, who will travel up to Worcester after their match against Middlesex.

Fourth-placed Middlesex will stay at Lord’s for their championship match against Sussex, while Hampshire, the only side below their south-coast rivals, entertain second-placed Warwickshire in the other Division One fixture starting tomorrow.

LV= County Championship statistics

Hampshire v Warwickshire

Hampshire have only managed one win in their last seven versus Warwickshire (D4 L2).

Warwickshire have won the toss in their last five visits to the Ageas Bowl; losing only once in that time (W2 D2).

Hampshire have gone seven games without claiming victory at home (D5 L2).

Warwickshire have the opportunity to win three successive matches on the road for the first time since putting together a similar run from September 2010 to April 2011.

Boyd Rankin recorded figures of 6-75 in the reverse fixture earlier this season; he’s never taken more wickets in a single first class innings (he also took six v Yorkshire in April, 6/55).

Middlesex v Sussex

Sussex have gone four trips to Middlesex without registering a victory (D3 L1, excluding last season’s abandoned fixture).

Middlesex have tasted defeat only once in their last 14 at home (W5 D8).

Luke Wright (Sussex) has hit more fours (134) than any other player in the division.

Sussex are without a win in six matches (D2 L4).

The south coast side have only won one of their last eight matches that have started on a Friday (D3 L4).

Worcestershire v Nottinghamshire

Worcestershire have won the last three tosses when these sides have met; failing to win any of those games (D1 L2).

Nottinghamshire have gone four visits to Worcestershire without a win (D3 L1).

Only one of the last five meetings between these sides has ended in a draw.

Only Chris Rushworth (Durham, 406.1) and Steve Magoffin (Sussex, 398) have bowled more overs in Division One this season than Worcestershire duo Charlie Morris (392) and Jack Shantry (370.1).

Richard Oliver fell just short of making his third first-class century (99) the last time these teams faced off.

Yorkshire v Durham

Yorkshire have only managed one victory across their last 12 home matches versus Durham (D6 L5).

Yorkshire have never lost a match when winning the toss at home to Durham (W1 D4).

Jason Gillespie’s men have the chance to win six games in a row; their best run since the six match run they put together from August 1998 until April 1999.

Steven Patterson (Yorkshire) has registered more maidens than any other bowler in the division this campaign (102).

Chris Rushworth (Durham) has the best average of anyone to have bowled at least 200 overs this season in Division One (19.2). 

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