HAD there been anyone in the second team piling up runs, Andrew Gale might not have played in this game.
Why, the Yorkshire captain said so himself.
“If there was a second team lad who was stacking them up, and really putting pressure on, then it would be a case of leaving myself out,” he admitted prior to this match.
“But there’s no one really breathing down my neck.”
Gale, who added that he wanted to be “speaking for myself with runs”, had made 327 of them in the Championship this season at 19.23.
He had managed only one half-century in 18 innings.
Admitting that his form was “a worry”, and that he was “short of confidence”, Gale did what he has traditionally done in such situations – he knuckled down and fought with every sinew.
The result was an innings of 83 at Old Trafford yesterday which, although not the three-figure score he had set his heart on, was testimony to his character, an innings which helped Yorkshire to avoid the follow-on as they made 360 in reply to 494, Lancashire ending day three on 70-0 in their second innings, enjoying a lead of 204.
Had Gale translated his highest score of the season into his first century of the campaign, it would have been a fitting achievement.
It was on his last appearance at Old Trafford in 2014 that he had the infamous altercation with Ashwell Prince that led to him being banned and prevented from lifting the Championship trophy.
That episode was the nadir of Gale’s career, so it would have been a cathartic experience to have registered a hundred.
As it was, he could content himself with a fine contribution, one which restated his personal authority and which helped his side in a sticky situation.
That situation saw the Yorkshire score standing at 55-2 when Gale came to the crease on the second afternoon.
He and Alex Lees added 81 in 42 overs before close of play, and the pair carried on from where they left off in glorious sunshine yesterday morning.
Gale battled through to a half-century from 162 balls with six fours, with Yorkshire building a powerful platform.
But they lost the anchoring presence of Lees when the stand was worth 130, the opener falling lbw to Kyle Jarvis for a splendid 85 after starting the day on 62.
It was a composed performance from Lees, who faced 260 balls and hit 10 fours, and there was no let-up from Yorkshire as Gale found another strong ally in Jake Lehmann.
The 24-year-old Australian – son of former Yorkshire batsman and current Australia coach Darren Lehmann – soon found his feet in his first innings for the club.
With an effortlessness evocative of his father, Lehmann off-drove Jarvis to the foot of the old pavilion and promptly repeated the feat.
There was a lovely cover-driven four off Nathan Buck and a cut off Tom Smith to the backward-point rope as Lehmann raised a fifty partnership with his captain in just 52 balls.
The stand was broken moments before lunch when Gale was caught in the gully by Simon Kerrigan off Smith, playing a cut shot to a ball that deserved the treatment.
Gale was annoyed with himself for picking out the man, but it was a gutsy effort from the Yorkshire skipper.
After lunch, the visitors slipped from 272-4 to 283-7, at which point the follow-on target was still 62 away.
Adil Rashid was brilliantly caught by Haseeb Hameed at short-leg off Kerrigan, the 19-year-old taking an instinctive catch when the batsman flicked the ball firmly off the back foot.
Lehmann played-on at an attempted cover-drive off Jarvis, falling four short of a half-century, and Tim Bresnan went lbw playing back to Jarvis.
But Andrew Hodd and Steve Patterson added 58 in 17 overs, Hodd scoring a vital 43 before being superbly caught by a diving Liam Livingstone, who ran quickly to his right from slip to take the chance at full stretch after the batsman sliced a leg-side drive.
Patterson cover-drove Nathan Buck to the boundary to take Yorkshire to the magic figure of 345, before the same bowler castled him as he aimed towards leg.
Ryan Sidebottom was last out, caught behind off Kerrigan, the Yorkshireman walking before the umpire raised his finger – an example of good sportsmanship in the passionate cauldron of Roses cricket.
Smith and Hameed, the Lancashire openers, played impressively when the hosts replied.
Hameed, looking every inch a future England player, produced some delightful shots as Lancashire extended their lead in the evening sunshine.