He was a highly impressive batsman, averaging in the high 30s in first-class cricket and good enough to score 20 hundreds.
In the latest of our top-five innings features, Chris Waters asked Gale to choose his favourite five from a Yorkshire first-team career that ran from 2004 to 2016.
1 – 151 not out v Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge 2010
“Scoring runs when no-one else does, the team wins and you’re the captain – that’s special,” said Gale.
“It was my first year in charge and I was lucky enough to have some good knocks that year, and none better than this one.
“I remember looking at the pitch the day before in training and it looked green and damp, and I thought, ‘Surely they’ll take some grass off.’
“But when we turned up on the day they hadn’t taken any grass off, and I won a massive toss and stuck them in.”
Gale’s men blew away the hosts for 59, Oliver Hannon-Dalby and Ajmal Shahzad each taking four wickets and Moin Ashraf two on Championship debut.
In tough conditions, Gale then struck a super unbeaten 151 out of Yorkshire’s first innings reply of 264, with Jonny Bairstow (36) the only other batsman to pass 19.
The pitch eased as Notts followed up with 413, leaving Yorkshire 209 to win. Bairstow (63 not out) and Gerard Brophy (41) helped Yorkshire home after they fell to a wobbly 95-4.
“It was a good game of cricket,” said Gale. “The pitch flattened out as it got drier, and I remember Bluey and Brophs came in and bashed it after we’d been in a bit of trouble.
“They’re tricky little chases, 200 or so, and we were riding on the crest of a wave as a team that season.
“We weren’t a Championship-winning side, if we’re being honest – we were young and inexperienced – but we got close in the end and played some bloody good cricket.”
2 – 272 v Nottinghamshire at Scarborough 2013
“I always had a confidence about me at Scarborough,” said Gale, who averaged 49 there in first-class matches.
“It was my ground. I used to look at the fixtures and go, ‘Who are we playing there this year? Who am I going to score runs against?’ I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get a hundred.”
Gale not only got a hundred against Nottinghamshire at North Marine Road in 2013 but a double and, had it not been for a declaration, might have had a treble.
He said it was coach Jason Gillespie’s decision to pull the plug.
“Although I was captain, I always said to Dizzy that if I was batting, you control the game from the edge and send a message out, because whenever I was batting the game seemed to move so fast and I was always thinking about the next ball, the next over, and so on. You lose yourself in the batting side of things.
“I’d just got past 250, I think, and Diz sent the message out to say, ‘You’ve got four overs to get as many as you can.’ I ended up chipping one in the air and I look back now because it finished up in a bore draw and I could have got 300. I should have told Dizzy where to stick it!”
Gale’s career-best underpinned a total of 572-8 in reply to Notts’s 443, the visitors closing on 105-1 in their second innings.
“That knock kick-started my season,” added Gale. “I hadn’t scored a run up to that point and was really struggling and really battling.
“Diz just kept saying, ‘Stay patient, you’ll get a chance and when you get in, just make it count’.”
3 – 125 not out v Essex at Chelmsford 2010
“This was in a one-day game and around that time Essex were a really good white-ball team,” recalled Gale.
“We went down there and myself and Jacques Rudolph knocked off a big target with no wickets down.”
The game in question was in the Clydesdale Bank 40-over competition and saw Essex score 232-9 after Gale stuck them in, West Indies fast bowler Tino Best taking 4-46.
Gale hit 125 not out from 115 balls and Rudolph 101 not out from 102 balls, the pair sharing a stand of 233 as Yorkshire won by 10 wickets with 4.1 overs to spare.
“Again it was my first year as captain and we were always talking about being ruthless,” he said.
“I wanted to lead from the front and me and Jacques walking off there at the end, it sent a strong message to the lads – that’s ruthless.
“It was a nice marker down early on as captain.”
Gale always enjoyed batting with Rudolph, the brilliant South African.
“I loved batting with Jacques. He’s a real good friend of mine - a great guy. He always kept me calm at the crease and brought me down to earth if I was getting ahead of myself.
“He’d say, ‘You don’t need to play that big shot, just keep knocking it (the ball) around.’ Then, ‘We need a boundary now, can you get a boundary?’ Then it was back to, ‘Right, knock it around again for a bit’, and so on.
“I was only 26 or 27, still finding my game, finding my feet, and he was that old and experienced head at the other end who’d been there and done it.”
4 – 121 v Lancashire at Old Trafford 2009
“We were in a bit of trouble in this one,” said Gale, with Lancashire having scored 489-5 declared in reply to Yorkshire’s first innings 181.
“The crowd was really into us, they were on top of us, being quite abusive towards us and saying that we were rubbish.
“It was one of the first times that I spoke in the huddle to the rest of the players and I remember saying, ‘Lads, we’ve got two choices to go about this – we can be bowled out by lunchtime or we can dig in.’
“Anyway, me and Jacques Rudolph again put on a massive partnership to save the game.”
The fourth-wicket pair added 218 to help Yorkshire to a share of the spoils, the visitors closing on 354-4 to secure a well-earned draw.
Gale hit 121 from 173 balls and Rudolph anchored the innings with 127 from 280 after Mal Loye (146) and VVS Laxman (109) had earlier starred with the bat for the hosts.
“When you speak like that in the huddle and you back it up on the pitch – I think that was one of those moments when the dressing room started to take me seriously as a leader, and I got the captaincy the following year,” said Gale. “That was a really big knock for me.
“I remember there were big craters in the pitch which Keeds (spinner Gary Keedy) was bowling into, and I just kept sweeping him out of the craters.
“The sweep was never a strong shot of mine, but that day I absolutely nailed it and felt like I could sweep every ball.”
5 – 124 v Durham at Chester-le-Street 2014
“The reason I’ve picked this one is because it came in the game after I left myself out against Middlesex at Lord’s to allow Rooty to play and captain the team,” said Gale.
Joe Root, available ahead of the international summer, had a match to forget as Middlesex knocked off a whopping 472 to win by seven wickets, Australian Chris Rogers smiting an unbeaten 241.
Gale, hitherto out of form and short of runs, reclaimed the reins for the next game in Durham – with Root by then unavailable – and responded with a magnificent 124.
It was an innings that said a lot about the man.
“I’d started the season poorly,” he said. “I hadn’t got any runs and everyone else had got runs. It was a tough decision to leave myself out as captain but very unselfish, I think.
“I remember being sat there after we’d trained at Lord’s in the dressing room before that Middlesex game and telling the lads that I wasn’t going to play.
“I said, ‘I’m not going to play. I’m the one who’s not in form. I wish you well.’ I turned up the next morning, watched the first half-hour and then got the train back and went and played second team and got 70 or 80.
“So to go out next Championship match, when Rooty had gone back, and score 124 just showed a strong mentality because some players might have fallen away and ended up not even being captain by the end of the season.
“I had no pressure from the coaches to leave myself out. They said, ‘It’s up to you. Whichever way you go we’ll back you.’
“I think it sent a strong message to the lads that no-one is bigger than the club.”
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