Roses troubles, Strauss’s Wimbledon return: Richard Gibson

The extra spice discernible between Yorkshire and Lancashire during their three Roses tussles this season, above and beyond the intense traditional rivalry, was provided not by a clash on the field but words off it.

Because the ill feeling, which most notably spilled over during Lancashire’s County Championship victory in Liverpool last month, stemmed from disparaging, if indirect, comments from Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale at the start of the season.

During an interview with Sky Sports News in April, Gale, asked for his predictions on which teams would be challenging for the Division One title, expressed surprise at Lancashire’s promising start, and suggested they were one of the teams he envisaged struggling.

Naturally, his opinion got under the skins of the Lancashire lot, who will no doubt be quick to refer to the Championship table when the sides meet at Headingley on July 20-23, particularly if the White Rose county remain in the relegation zone.

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The Twenty20 gravy train is taking in new stops with every passing month, ensuring that it becomes everything it was designed not to be. Games are now serious, tactical and voluminous.

Thankfully, the good folk of the Channel Islands have still got the spirit right. This weekend the inaugural Guernsey Premier League comes to its conclusion with finals day. All the best local players were bought by four franchised teams, each allocated up to $25million in a mock auction. One chap went for a whopping $6.6million!

Organisers followed the original 2003 English model for success, as they targeted families, and erected marquees and bouncy castles. They also limited the number of matches, holding the tournament across four weekends in June.

Funds supplied by local businesses paid for each team to have an imported professional, and the same format is to be used in 2012 and 2013.

Shaun Udal, who signed up as one of the four imports in February when he was on the island for a Rob Key benefit dinner, and another retired ex-England man James Kirtley intend to return next year.

The quartet of ‘overseas stars’ was surprisingly completed by Nottinghamshire duo Paul Franks and Charlie Shreck, who were seen as surplus to their county’s Friends Life t20 commitments. All-rounder Franks has led the way with the bat, crashing 303 runs in just five matches.

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Hats off – or should that be on? – to Somerset then for their fun way of welcoming West Indian big-hitter Kieron Pollard back to Taunton.

Yellow hard hats are to be distributed at future home matches now that Somerset have their six-spanking specialist back from international duty. Yet the crowd was hardly safe when his temporary replacement Roelof van der Merwe was around – the South African had struck more sixes (12) than any other player in the tournament prior to heading home this week.

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The Professional Cricketers’ Association is encouraging high rollers and high flyers with its financial assistance for vocational courses.

Under the scheme, players have their training fees subsidised, and Warwickshire spinner Ant Botha and Northamptonshire fast bowler Luke Evans have undertaken two of the more eye-catching qualifications.

Botha has trained as a foreign exchange trader while Evans had around half of the outlay for his private pilot’s licence paid for.

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England Test captain Andrew Strauss’s return to Wimbledon this week was in a very different guise to that of his previous visit.

Strauss fronted the party of England players, and wives, housed in the Royal Box on Centre Court at SW19. Back in the mid-1990s, the boxes he dealt with contained strawberries and cream, working as a vendor at the Championships during his student days.

*Follow me on Twitter: @richardgibson74

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