YORKSHIRE believe it is unfair to judge head coach Andrew Gale until he has got the right tools to work with.
Gale has faced criticism from fans after three challenging seasons in charge.
But Yorkshire’s chief executive Mark Arthur said: “Until we can jointly deliver him a squad of players that are a) capable of First Division performances and b) executing their skills as they should, then it’s wrong to judge the head coach.
“Coaches can only prepare players to the best of their ability, whatever the sport. Once those players cross the white line they are the ones who have to execute their skills, and I don’t think there are too many players who would be happy with their overall performances this year.
“We still haven’t got a squad that we’re happy with, and until we’ve created a squad that is able to perform to the best of its ability, as individuals and as a collective, it’s very hard to pass judgment on any individual coaches.”
Arthur feels that Yorkshire are still in transition after the gradual break-up of the team which won the County Championship under Gale’s captaincy in 2014 and 2015.
We still haven’t got a squad that we’re happy with, and until we’ve created a squad that is able to perform to the best of its ability, as individuals and as a collective, it’s very hard to pass judgment on any individual coaches.Yorkshire chief executive, Mark Arthur
The club have already outlined their desire to strengthen the batting during the winter and have identified spin as another priority.
Gale has told the board that he wants two overseas players for T20 next year in order to have a better crack at that competition, which Yorkshire have never won.
The club’s hierarchy is optimistic that results will improve next season as the squad evolves and youngsters develop.
“We continue to transition as a club and hopefully we can challenge for trophies next year,” said Arthur. “At the end of 2017, which was the end of Andrew’s first year as coach, we recognised that we had to make some changes to the squad and sometimes it can take three or four years in order to find a balanced team that is free of England call-ups, free of injuries, and so on.
“Unlike football, we can’t just go out and wave a cheque book at the situation, but we are very much aware of the issues playing-wise and we want to bring in more competition on the batting side of things in particular.
“But it’s always a balance; Surrey won the Championship last year but they finished below us this year, and that’s the challenge you come across when you’re successful because suddenly you find yourselves unable to select players who’ve been successful for you in the past because of availability (England call-ups), or the fact that a generation is getting older and can no longer perform to the best of its powers.”
As well as trying to sign the right players to fill the right holes, Arthur believes that age-profile is important in the Yorkshire squad. In their last Championship match of the season against Warwickshire at Edgbaston, Yorkshire fielded only five players aged 25-30 – the age-range that Arthur feels is preferable.
“Top performing athletes are normally between the ages of 25 and 30,” he said.
“We haven’t got very many players available to us in that age group. You need a core of players between those ages, the prime years, and I think also because we were successful with the side that we had in 2014, 2015 and 2016, some players didn’t get the opportunity to come through as much.
“In the 1960s, for example, Yorkshire hardly ever changed the team, and when it came to the 1970s the club wasn’t that successful.”
Arthur made no attempt to hide behind a difficult 2019. Yorkshire finished fifth in the Championship, fifth in their T20 group and sixth in their 50-over group.
“We were very disappointing in T20,” he said. “In mitigation, we were building the squad around three key players, the two leg-spinners Josh Poysden and Adil Rashid and (pace bowler) Matthew Fisher, all of whom got injured. We also had a number of games cancelled for rain.
“At the same time, we were found wanting in the final overs of games when, in several cases, we managed to lose when we should have won. Individuals within the team that we expected to perform didn’t come up to the mark, while in the 50-over competition, things would have looked different if we’d won the games that we ended up tying.
“As for the Championship, it was a mixed bag. We had three games curtailed by rain in which we had the advantage and, all things being equal, if those had gone to their natural conclusion – Hampshire home, Essex home, and Warwickshire away – the table would have looked very different.
“But there were some good performances from the players in the Championship and, up until the last three games, we still had an outside chance of winning it.
“Off-the-field, of course, it was a very successful year, with the opening of the new Emerald Stand, our World Cup games and our Ashes Test, but, at the end of the day, we’re judged by how we perform on the pitch and we’re striving to improve.”