ANDREW GALE last night warned that Yorkshire cannot keep relying on Jonny Bairstow’s “unbelievable contributions”.
The Yorkshire captain admitted others need to stand up after the champions were held to a draw in their opening match.
Yorkshire missed a chance to start their quest for a hat-trick of titles with a maximum points win after dominating the first half of their game against Hampshire.
After Bairstow’s career-best 246 helped them to 593-9 declared, Yorkshire reduced Hampshire to 128-5 towards the end of day two only for the visitors to reach 453-9 declared, Yorkshire finishing on 183-8 declared in their second innings before hands were shaken.
Last year, Bairstow played a key part in Yorkshire’s title triumph with 1,108 runs at 92. He took that form into England’s winter tour of South Africa, where he topped the averages and hit a maiden Test hundred in Cape Town.
Yorkshire’s top-order batting has been inconsistent for a while, an area they are working to address.
Gale denied it is a concern at this early stage, but did concede that Yorkshire cannot keep looking towards Bairstow.
“There’s going to come a period in the season when you can’t rely on your Jonny Bairstows to keep standing up and making unbelievable contributions,” said Gale.
“The lad’s playing a different game to the rest of us, I think, and he’s just picked up from where he left off in Cape Town and last season.
“It’s not panic stations; it’s the first game of the season. Jack Leaning had a good year last year, I got 1,000 runs, and ‘Lythy’ (Adam Lyth) looks back in the mix and is hitting the ball well.
“What I’m saying is, we won’t be able to rely at 40-3 on Jonny coming in and getting a double hundred.”
Gale said Bairstow’s continued good form is great news for England, with the international season just around the corner.
England start their three-Test series against Sri Lanka at Headingley on May 19.
“Jonny’s got a big summer ahead of him and to start off in the manner that he has done with a double hundred is fantastic for us and brilliant for English cricket as well,” said Gale. “He’s just got consistency in his game.
“He’s worked his game out very quickly over the last 18 months, I’d say, and he’s pretty level when he’s out at the crease.”
Bairstow managed only five yesterday, caught behind off a fine ball from South African pace bowler Ryan McLaren.
Gale top-scored with 46 but felt Yorkshire’s batting was “a bit sloppy” and “a bit soft”, adding that it had been “flagged up” afterwards and that “it won’t happen again”.
Overall, it was the proverbial game of two halves, with Yorkshire magnificent in the first half and mediocre in the second.
Hampshire resumed on 450-8 yesterday having saved the follow-on in the penultimate over of day three.
They added only three more runs before Ryan Sidebottom had Chris Wood caught by Lyth at second slip, ending a stand of 62 with McLaren, who did not add to his overnight 55.
Hampshire then declared as last man Fidel Edwards was unable to bat after injuring his right ankle in the warm-ups.
There are fears that the former West Indies international could be out for two months, and Hampshire also lost Liam Dawson, Sean Ervine and Wood to injury at various stages of this game, although Wood had recovered sufficiently from a knee complaint to feature yesterday.
Despite the drain on Hampshire’s resources, with coach Dale Benkenstein and video analyst Joe Maiden called on as substitute fielders, Yorkshire slipped to 43-4 inside 18 overs.
Alex Lees went lbw to James Tomlinson, who then had Gary Ballance caught at short cover.
Lyth wafted at a wide one and was caught behind off McLaren, who followed up with the wicket of Bairstow.
Gale and Leaning steadied things with a stand of 73 in 27 overs before Gale got a good one from Wood and was caught behind, Leaning following when he misjudged a drive off spinner Will Smith.
Adil Rashid was caught in the slips off Tomlinson, who then held Steve Patterson at mid-on off James Vince.
Liam Plunkett followed his first innings century with an unbeaten 27, Jack Brooks finishing unbeaten on 15.