The Yorkshire first-team coach said that his side had made progress across the board, reaching the knockout stages of the two white-ball competitions and the top division of the Championship – the only county to achieve that feat.
But after a 106-run defeat against Warwickshire, for whom the former Yorkshire all-rounder Tim Bresnan performed the remarkable feat of taking six catches at first slip in the home team’s second innings, Yorkshire’s last hope of silverware is the Bob Willis Trophy – a one-off season finale between the champions and Division One runners-up.
They head into their final Championship game against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge, starting on Tuesday, fourth in Division One and realistically needing not only to win but also for other results to go their way to reach the BWT final that begins at Lord’s on September 28.
Gale said: “It feels like a bit of a nearly year because I feel we should have got to (T20) Finals Day, the lads also got to the quarter-finals in the 50-over comp, and we were one game away from taking the Championship to the last game of the season. But we are definitely on an upward curve.
“We certainly won’t be going to Trent Bridge next week to make the numbers up; I want to finish the season on a high. Notts have a chance of winning the Championship, and the last thing I want to be doing is seeing them lift the trophy in front of us.”
Gale pointed to his own experience as a Yorkshire player in 2013 when the side that he captained fell just short of winning the title after pushing Durham, the eventual winners, all the way before Durham won a decisive late-season game between the teams at Scarborough.
The disappointment was quickly erased and used as motivation when Yorkshire won back-to-back Championships in 2014 and 2015, which remains their last silverware.
“I spoke a little bit in the dressing room about my experience of 2013 when we fell short, losing against Durham at Scarborough,” said Gale, after Warwickshire sealed victory in the opening session on day four to go second in the table behind Hampshire.
“That hurt the players but they learnt from it (and went on to win the back-to-back titles).
“But you have to put things into perspective a bit; we’ve lost two games out of the last 19, and the way we’ve played over the last few weeks – we’ve played some great cricket. If you look around the dressing room, there are a few experienced heads, but it’s a young team and we are on this journey with the young lads to give them opportunity, and they will learn from this.”
Yorkshire went into the final day on 50-3 requiring a further 174 for victory after the third day had been lost to rain. They lost Gary Ballance to the third ball without adding to his overnight 21, which remained the highest score of the innings, when the former England man edged Chris Woakes to second slip.
Having taken three slip catches on the second evening, including the key one of Dawid Malan to the final delivery, Bresnan’s safe hands were to the fore once more when Harry Brook was caught low down off Woakes.
After Bresnan pinned Dom Bess leg-before and Harry Duke was caught-and-bowled by Craig Miles, Bresnan’s fifth catch followed when Jordan Thompson edged an attempted cut off Liam Norwell.
Steve Patterson’s swish at Miles gave Bresnan his sixth catch, and the match ended when Will Rhodes, the Warwickshire captain and former Yorkshire all-rounder, caught Ben Coad at mid-on off Norwell.
“It was disappointing to end in the fashion we did because I think when people play against Yorkshire, they know we’re a hard team to beat,” added Gale.
“But I thought we were a bit soft to not take the game past lunch.
“Credit to Warwickshire, they bowled well throughout the game. We should have bowled them out a bit cheaper in the first innings, but I was more disappointed with the batting in the first innings. We didn’t apply ourselves as well as we could.”
Patterson (hamstring) is a doubt for next week, while Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow are unavailable ahead of the T20 World Cup. Joe Root’s availability is unclear at this stage.