The Yorkshire first XI coach heads into the season with high hopes that the club can land their first silverware since that golden spell in the mid-2010s.
Gale led Yorkshire to the Championship in 2014 and 2015 and almost to a hat-trick in 2016. He believes his class of 2021 is capable of reaching such heights as they gear up for their season opener against Glamorgan at Emerald Headingley today.
“The challenge to the squad is: can we be as good as that team was back then, the team that won back-to-back Championships?” said Gale.
“I think we had a great team then and the record that we had was outstanding. We had all bases covered and quality players throughout the side.”
Yorkshire have undergone a comprehensive rebuild since, with players having retired and/or moved on. Several youngsters have been introduced in recent times to complement a variety of domestic and overseas signings.
Of the side that will take to the field today, only batsmen Adam Lyth and Joe Root remain from the Championship-winning team along with club captain Steve Patterson and fellow pace bowler Matthew Fisher.
However, Fisher was very much at the start of his career, with Yorkshire’s pace attack then led by Ryan Sidebottom and Jack Brooks with support from Patterson and also Tim Bresnan.
“We’ve worked a long time to get back to this stage because, if you look at this team now compared to that of five or six years ago, there’s hardly any of those lads around,” added Gale.
“We’ve talked about the transitional period that we’ve had in recent years, where we’ve given young lads opportunities and the chance to improve in first-class cricket, and I feel now we’ve got good depth and competition in the squad and the belief that we can win trophies again.
“You always need a bit of luck along the way with the weather and England call-ups and stuff, but we have that strength and depth and a good blend of experience and players who are coming out of that ‘youngsters stage’.
“I’m very confident going into the season and, as was the case a few years back, I think that we’ve got all bases covered.”
It is not only the depth and breadth of talent available that enthuses Gale ahead of his fifth season at the coaching helm. He also perceives echoes of the camaraderie and team spirit that played such a big part in the mid-2010s when a winning squad was very much a happy squad.
“I definitely think the togetherness and feel around the place is like what we had in 2014 and 2015,” he said.
“Not only did we have a great bunch of players back then, but they all wanted each other to do well and everyone had everyone else’s backs.
“This set of players also enjoy each other’s company and are full of confidence going into the season. I back this set of players, I really do, and I feel we can have a really good year.”
Asked what would represent a successful season, Gale said: “I think a good season would be to get to the latter stages of the County Championship, being in that top group [Division One] and competing to get to the final [of the Bob Willis Trophy].
“Also, getting into the knockout stages of the T20 because we are determined to improve our record in that competition.
“As for the One-Day Cup, you’ll have to ask [assistant coach] Rich Pyrah!” he quipped.
Pyrah will take charge of the 50-over team while Gale is part of Darren Lehmann’s coaching staff for The Hundred confection Northern Superchargers.
Although The Hundred will be a learning curve, with both Gale and the club keen for him to broaden his coaching experience, his primary focus is very much on Yorkshire.
“We’ve assembled a good squad that is capable of challenging and everyone’s really looking forward to it,” added Gale.
“We obviously want to get off to a good start, which will give us confidence, but, at the same time, with the games coming thick and fast [eight Championship matches in nine weeks], there’s no need to panic if we don’t do that. It’s a long season at the end of the day and the aim is always to be consistent.
“If we do that and stick to our processes day in, day out, I don’t think we’ll be far off.”
Yorkshire are without Gary Ballance this week after he sustained a concussion injury while batting in training.It is hoped that he will return for next week’s trip to Kent. Jordan Thompson (calf) and Matthew Waite (side) are also unavailable.
Yorkshire squad: Bess, Brook, Coad, Fisher, Kohler-Cadmore, Loten, Lyth, Olivier, Patterson (captain), Root, Tattersall, Willey.
Season Preview: Page 23
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