Gale ready to prove one-day force for Yorkshire

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ANDREW GALE insists he still has a future as a one-day cricketer.

The Yorkshire captain relinquished the leadership of the one-day side in August to focus on running the Championship team.

Gale found it hard to hit the same heights as a batsman in one-day cricket and felt the dual captaincy was affecting him.

Now he can concentrate more on his batting and believes he can merit a place in the side.

“I’ve got big ambitions next year to get my one-day form back to where it was four or five years ago,” he said. “I worked really hard on it last winter and felt that I made some strides forward again in T20 cricket, but I didn’t quite nail it as I would have liked.

“I just felt that the one-day captaincy had started to affect me, so, hopefully, now I can get back some form.

“I want to play in every game, and although that’s probably unrealistic, I still want to be part of the one-day stuff.”

Gale, 32 this month, made three appearances in the Royal London 50-Over Cup last summer, scoring 56 runs.

He struck 288 runs in 12 NatWest T20 Blast games, including a match-winning 68 not out against Notts at Trent Bridge.

But it was in Championship cricket that he excelled. The left-hander hit 1,006 runs at 40.24 – finishing second to Jonny Bairstow in the run-scoring list - and played an important role in Yorkshire’s second straight title.

In contrast to their Championship form, however, Yorkshire were typically inconsistent in one-day cricket.

They reached the semi-finals of the Royal London Cup but came second-bottom of the T20 Blast North Group, losing eight of 14 games.

Although hard to thrive in all three competitions (Gale stated last summer that “you almost need two different squads to compete in all competitions”), Yorkshire are determined to give it a go.

The ambition shown by previous high-profile signings of players such as Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell has been maintained by the capture of England all-rounder David Willey, a man Gale believes could yet provide the missing ingredient.

“He’s more or less carried the Northants team in the shorter form for the last few years or so,” said Gale. “At Twenty20 Finals Day a few years back, he nearly won the final on his own.

“I wouldn’t say that just by signing him that suddenly our performances are going to go through the roof, because obviously we need other lads to step up as well.

“But you’d like to think that by adding him into the team, it’s only going to give us a better chance of winning one-day silverware.”

Yorkshire have not won a one-day cup since 2002, when they beat Somerset in the old Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy.

They have only once reached Twenty20 Finals Day.

It is something that rankles with all at Headingley, and explains the keenness to snap up Willey. The 25-year-old is a proven force.

“I just think he’s a match-winner,” said Gale. “You look at certain players, like Jonny Bairstow, for example, and if they have their day then they’re out-and-out match-winners.

“It’s the same with David Willey. On his day, he can win a game single-handedly.”

There was perhaps no greater demonstration of what Willey can do than when he powered Northants to victory over Sussex last summer in the T20 Blast quarter-final at Hove. The left-hander bludgeoned 100 from 41 balls with seven fours and 10 sixes, Northants eventually finishing runners-up to Lancashire.

“That knock he played in the quarter-final was incredible,” said Gale. “He basically won that game on his own.

“The more players you’ve got in your team who can do things like that, the more chance you’ve got of winning games.

“We’re really pleased to have him on board.”

Yorkshire beat off stiff competition to sign Willey, who had become the nation’s hottest transfer target.

In the end, Yorkshire’s size, success and potential, plus the chance to work with such as first-team coach Jason Gillespie, prompted the player to move north.

“One of the big drivers for David Willey to come to Yorkshire was because of Jason Gillespie and the stuff he can learn from him, and also what he can learn from Ryan Sidebottom too,” said Gale.

“As a fellow left-armer, Siddy will be working closely with him and, when Siddy does eventually retire, there’s a like-for-like replacement there.

“David is keen to play more four-day cricket going forward, and that was another big factor for him. We think the move will benefit everyone.”

Willey’s main role – in the short-term at least – will be to help Yorkshire in one-day cricket.

Gale is optimistic for their chances next year.

“The club is determined to keep improving – to get to knockout stages, to get to Finals Days,” he said.

“In my view, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t with the squad we’ve got.

“We’ve got some great players, and I think we can make more strides in the one-day stuff.

“Everyone is working towards that goal.”