YORKSHIRE have given Andrew Gale a resounding vote of confidence ahead of his third season as first-team coach.
Gale has experienced two challenging summers with the club twice flirting with Championship relegation and missing out on the knockout stages of the T20 Blast.
Yorkshire reached the semi-final of the Royal London Cup last year and the quarter-final the year before.
But it has been a tough transition from the successful period in the mid-2010s when Gale captained the county to successive Championships.
On the eve of the new season director of cricket Martyn Moxon spelled out Yorkshire’s collective support for the 35-year-old coach, who now has the experiences behind him – and a talented squad – to take the county from strength to strength.
The former England opener is a huge admirer of Gale’s ability and the work he is doing behind the scenes.
“The bottom line is that Galey puts on fantastic practices, he’s giving lads opportunity and everyone is fully behind him,” said Moxon.
“The environment is healthy and competitive and Galey has played a massive part in creating that.
“We’re not the finished article – we’re all accepting that. We’ve still got work to do. However, results aren’t totally down to the coach either.
“Ultimately the players have to go out and play to their capabilities. A coach can only do so much. The players have to go out and play the game.
“But I’m confident and happy with the way that we prepare, what we’re talking about (with the players), what we’re working on, how the players are being managed, and so on.
“Galey has our full support.”
Moxon knows as well as anyone that coaching success can be difficult to achieve.
He spent seven seasons steering Yorkshire towards a point where, in 2014, Gale was able to captain to the title a squad that reached their glorious peak under his predecessor as coach, Jason Gillespie.
As that side has gradually broken up, echoing the constant evolution of sport, a new guard has formed which, on paper, has the quality this summer to challenge for silverware.
The seam bowling – boosted by the Kolpak signing of the South African Duanne Olivier – looks particularly strong, while a talented batting group is perhaps now primed to finally prove its class, helped by the appointment of a specialist batting coach in Paul Grayson.
Outlining the challenges that Gale has faced in his first two years, Moxon said: “What we’ve seen over the last couple of years is that things have changed.
“From when we were successful in 2014 and 2015 motivations within some players changed, their aspirations changed, the whole landscape changed.
“We changed the coach, and Galey came in. A young and inexperienced coach, which we all accepted.
“He was very much an appointment for the future, and I know in my own personal situation that you don’t become a brilliant coach overnight.
“You’ve got to go through the highs and lows. You’ve got to go through the process of what coaching is about, and it’s different to being a player.
“Galey was an esteemed captain – he won two County Championships as captain and was a great leader on the field – but coaching is different. Your relationships with players change once you become a coach and so on.
“We’re still going through the process of change, but we’re rebuilding the team to be successful again.
“We’ve had challenges and there always will be challenges because it’s never plain sailing, but we’re investing in predominantly our own players and the appointment of Paul Grayson –who also brings the experience of being a first XI coach – will only help Galey continue to develop.”
Yorkshire admit that they perhaps should have given Gale such specialist support earlier.
At Saturday’s annual meeting chief executive Mark Arthur told members: “In hindsight we should have given Galey more coaching support over the past couple of years as Martyn’s role has become more and more administrative.
“With the recruitment of Paul Grayson I think we are in a good place. The batters have now got their own coach in Paul and the bowlers are making great strides with Richard Pyrah’s technical knowhow.”
After two tough years few outside ‘God’s Own County’ will perhaps expect Yorkshire to flourish this season.
However, another strong squad is beginning to emerge.
“I’m very excited about the season,” said Moxon. “I think we do have a good side. The potential is huge.
“We’re not going to start the season not trying to win the Championship, let’s put it that way, and I think we’ve got some excellent players.
“We’ve got now a really strong group of seamers, which you need if you’re going to challenge on all three fronts.
“You’ve got to have that large group of seamers who can play first-team cricket, and we’re really pleased with the situation we find ourselves in with regards to that aspect of our squad.
“There’s still areas and questions that need to be answered – we know that. But if our players perform to their potential we’re going to be up there.
“There are a number of positions up for grabs and real competition for places going forward, which is a very healthy situation to be in.
“We want the players now to really grasp these opportunities and take the bull by the horns, and take us forward as a club.
“I can assure everyone that we’ve got a group of players who are desperate for success and who are very proud indeed to wear the White Rose.”