YORKSHIRE first-team coach Andrew Gale revealed that people have been contacting him to check on his well-being after a barrage of criticism on social media.
Gale answered his critics in the best way possible as Yorkshire took a giant step towards avoiding County Championship relegation by beating Lancashire at Emerald Headingley.
Yorkshire’s 95-run win means that if they take a maximum of 18 points from their last two games, at home to Hampshire next week and away to Worcestershire the week after, they will be playing First Division cricket again next season.
It has been a challenging summer for Gale, who has faced some hateful abuse on social media – not least on the club’s own Twitter feed.
The former Championship-winning captain has had to deal with all manner of problems such as players leaving, players going to the Indian Premier League, players refusing to play red-ball cricket, and so on, but he said that those closest to him have been a rock of support.
“It’s certainly been challenging,” he reflected. “I haven’t read or seen a lot of the stuff, to be honest, I’ve kept out of it, but I know that things must have been bad when a lot of people have been texting me asking if I’m okay.
“But that comes with the territory, I guess. There’s massive expectation that comes with Yorkshire, with Yorkshire cricket, but we know what we’re trying to achieve at the club.
“The fact is we’re going through a period of transition. Players like Ben Coad, Harry Brook, Jonny Tattersall, Matthew Fisher, they’re going to need time, and we want to give them that opportunity while at the same time trying to make sure we compete.
“We’re still looking to bring in a couple of new faces, and myself, Martyn Moxon (director of cricket) and Mark Arthur (chief executive) know what we’re trying to do at the club, and we believe in it.”
Perhaps of all the wins secured during Gale’s time as coach, this was the most affirming for him personally.
It’s very easy to question the fight of the side at arm’s length, from a distance, but the lads have always had a lot of togetherness and a lot of team spirit.Yorkshire first-tream coach, Andrew Gale
It spoke of a united dressing room after Yorkshire had been staring down the barrel after day one, which saw Lancashire finish on 105-0 after dismissing the hosts for 209.
The visitors advanced to 145-1 before collapsing to 252 all-out as Jack Brooks nipped in with five wickets.
Yorkshire followed up with 272 in their second innings as Gary Ballance and first-innings centurion Tom Kohler-Cadmore united in a key century stand to set Lancashire a target of 230 that they never threatened.
“I thought that we showed a lot of character, a lot of togetherness, a lot of team spirit and belief to come back from day one,” said Gale.
“To fight back in the fashion that we did and then to drive the game and go on to win by 90-odd runs in the end was a fantastic effort.
“It’s very easy to question the fight of the side at arm’s length, from a distance, but the lads have always had a lot of togetherness and a lot of team spirit.
“One of the main things I said in pre-season and throughout the winter was that if you have that, you’ve always got a chance, and it’s at times like this when it’s tested and the lads have put their hands up and got behind each other.”
Yorkshire required only 40 minutes to seal victory on day four. Resuming on 109-7 with another 121 runs still wanted, Lancashire lost Keshav Maharaj – their last chance, perhaps, of pulling off a remarkable triumph – when he had his leg stump knocked back by Brooks in the day’s fourth over.
Brooks followed up by bowling Graham Onions on his way to match figures of 9-113 before Ben Coad applied the coup de grace, having Josh Bohannon well caught at short mid-wicket by Tim Bresnan off a fiercely-struck drive to finish with figures of 5-24 as Lancashire were ejected for 134.
“We were a little bit worried about Coady coming into the game after a side injury, but we felt that we could protect him within a five-man attack,” added Gale.
“He’s come through fine and he’s a wicket-taker; he’s got a lot of wickets for us in recent times, particularly at Headingley, and it’s proved the right decision in the end (to play him).
“As for Brooksy, for him to do what he does and keep performing is testament to the bloke.
“Obviously he’s leaving at the end of the season, and it would be easy for him just to breeze through and not give it his all, but he’s not like that and the last few weeks he’s put in a real shift for us and shown that he’s desperate to sign off in style. What a great performer and ambassador for Yorkshire he has been.”