ANDREW GALE has told his County Championship-winning team that if they want to go down as Yorkshire legends they have to win trophies year after year.
Yorkshire’s title last summer was their first trophy for 12 years and prompted predictions they could build a dynasty of success.
Chairman Colin Graves even challenged them to dominate county cricket for the next decade, echoing the efforts of the great Yorkshire side of the Sixties.
“That’s what I’ve said to Martyn Moxon (director of cricket) and Jason Gillespie (first-team coach), that I believe it could be the start of a golden era,” said Graves, who stands down as Yorkshire chairman on March 28 to become chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board from May.
“With the players we’ve got and the Academy guys coming through, I think we could have another Sixties situation on our hands, I seriously do. I want us to dominate like we did back then.”
Yorkshire won seven Championships in the 10 seasons from 1959, when they boasted such great names as Fred Trueman, Brian Close, Raymond Illingworth and Geoffrey Boycott.
But Gale said that for the current side to be classed in that company, they needed to win a raft of trophies.
“People talk about this team potentially being as good as the Sixties, or whatever, but, at the end of the day, you are judged on how many trophies you win,” said Gale.
“If the lads want to go down as legends in Yorkshire, you don’t go down as legends if you just win one trophy.
“First and foremost, backing up the Championship is key.
“That’s the most important thing for me this year, that we don’t just go, ‘Oh, we’ve won one’ and then get relegated, because there’s a history of teams winning trophies and getting relegated the year after or fighting relegation.
“That’s the first target – to keep doing well in the Championship – but there’s no reason why we can’t play free-spirited cricket in one-day and T20 and challenge for those trophies as well.
“That’s what I want to see now going forward.
“We’ve got to show we’re improving in all formats.”
When Yorkshire last won the title in 2001, it was a false dawn.
They were relegated the following year and failed to kick on to further success.
But with the majority of the current squad in their 20s, Yorkshire should be capable of challenging in all competitions for the next few years – even though they are regularly hit by England calls, with six of their players this week chosen for the Test tour to the West Indies.
Gale feels they can compete strongly not only in next summer’s Championship but also in the T20 Blast and one-day cup, areas in which Yorkshire have lately under-performed.
“I think you go into every season optimistic, but we’re certainly going out to try to win all three trophies,” said Gale.
“We’ve probably got more strength in depth than we’ve ever had before, and, if you’re going to compete in all three competitions, that’s exactly what you need.
“Probably in recent years we’ve maybe put the one-day stuff on the back-burner and used the opportunity to rest people, but we’ve got such a good squad that I don’t think we’ll need to do that.
“We always have to manage workloads – people like Ryan Sidebottom, Steve Patterson and Tim Bresnan – but we’ve got young lads who can come in and perform well.”
Gale said the younger members of the squad were helping keep the senior players hungry and on their toes.
He is ready to give such youngsters their chance again this year, particularly with Yorkshire affected by international calls.
Yorkshire will be without Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Adam Lyth and Jonny Bairstow for the opening three Championship games, which clash with the forthcoming West Indies trip. Gale is also suspended for the first match.
“With England playing 17 Test matches or whatever it is in a short space of time, they’re going to be calling on our lads again in addition to the ones already in the squad,” said Gale.
“Jack Brooks might get a sniff, Tim Bresnan might get another go at one-day cricket, and so on. So the young lads could certainly get an opportunity.
“We’ve got a group of young players who haven’t really been around pre-season before – people like Will Rhodes, Jonathan Tattersall, Josh Shaw – and you never really know what to expect when you bring young players in, but they’ve actually brought a lot of energy to the group.
“I see these sort of lads challenging for a place, definitely.”
Gale believes he has a self-motivated squad and players with plenty to play for in international terms.
He believes that will also help to keep the team hungry.
“What we’ve got going for us is that a lot of people have personal ambition as well,” he said.
“There’s a lot of lads who are in or just touching that England squad, who can pretty much grasp a full England place, so while that’s there it’s not just about Yorkshire.
“That will look after itself.
“People like Lyth, Lees, Rashid, Plunkett – they’re not just going to sit back and rest on their laurels. They want to play for England, which means they’ll be successful for us in the process.”