The first-team coach lamented a dearth of application, desire, passion and commitment - qualities that he said he expected as a minimum - after Yorkshire followed last week’s 298-run defeat to Somerset at Taunton with another thumping loss.
Gale said that those results had “taken the gloss off” and “put a shadow over” a hitherto encouraging Championship season, with Yorkshire having gone into the Somerset match third in the table with an outside chance of winning the title.
He said that he fully understood supporters’ concerns as Yorkshire fell to fifth in Division One ahead of their final match of the summer against Warwickshire at Edgbaston starting on Monday.
“I can’t defend that display,” said Gale, whose side were dismissed for 117 on day four in pursuit of a notional 551 despite having reduced Kent to 39-5 on the first day.
“From 10 overs in we were outplayed. We lacked application, desire, everything that we’ve done well this year, the characteristics that we’ve shown, fighting our way back into games, you name it.
“Our skill levels were down; I can handle that sometimes. But what I can’t handle is the application and desire not being there, the willingness to fight, and the honest truth is that we’ve rolled over and died the last two weeks. That hurts me.
“We did it at Somerset and we’ve done it again here. We haven’t been willing to apply ourselves and fight to get back into the game, and that’s not the way Yorkshire do things.
“We had a long chat before this match about not cruising to the end of the season. We didn’t want complacency but, on this evidence, that’s what we’ve shown.
“I feel like we’ve made progress this year in the Championship and done some really good stuff, but it’s sort of taken the gloss off that and put a shadow over it really.
“I think that anyone who knows me as an individual is aware that I expect my players to play with passion and fight on a daily basis. If we can’t win, we don’t lose sort of mentality. That’s shone through at periods this year. The last two weeks it hasn’t.
“I’m hurting, I’m really disappointed. I feel what the members feel, what the supporters feel. I’m busting my gut to make things right. Every defeat hurts me. I lose sleep over it and I want to make it right.”
Gale said that the only player who could hold his head high was Matthew Fisher, the 21-year-old pace bowler who made his return after a two-month injury absence.
Fisher took four wickets in the match, top-scored with 47 not out in the first innings and hung around for over an hour in the second after arriving at the crease with Yorkshire 46-7.
“The one bloke on display this week who I thought the game’s meant everything to is Matthew Fisher,” said Gale.
“You could see that with his batting, bowling, running around in the field. Everything was on this game for him. Maybe for a few of the others, it wasn’t.
“That was a great pitch to bat on, if you wanted to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in. We spoke before the game about being positive with our footwork, backing our defence and being willing to invest time. But we haven’t been willing to invest time. We’ve had lots and lots of soft dismissals. Yes, Kent played well, but we should still be competing.”
Not even Ben Stokes, Ian Botham and Bob Willis rolled into one could have inspired a miracle at Headingley yesterday, where Yorkshire resumed on 44-6.
They lost their seventh wicket to the 11th ball of a sunny morning, Tim Bresnan edging a drive off Darren Stevens to wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson.
It was Stevens’s fifth wicket as he became, aged 43 years and 142 days, the second-oldest player after W.G. Grace in 1895 to score a double hundred and take five wickets in the same first-class game, his first innings 237 having rescued Kent on the opening day in tandem with captain Sam Billings, who went on to become the first man to score two hundreds in a Championship fixture at the ground.
Fisher and Jonny Tattersall held up Kent with an eighth-wicket stand of 35 in 17 overs, ended when Fisher was superbly caught by Robinson diving to his right off Harry Podmore.
Tattersall added another 35 for the ninth-wicket with Duanne Olivier, who was bowled through the gate by Daniel Bell-Drummond, who rounded things off by having Tattersall caught at second slip.
Yorkshire, whose previous heaviest defeat was by 376 runs to Essex at Chelmsford in 2017, have awarded opening batsman Adam Lyth a testimonial for 2020.