Andrew Gale: I’m so proud of the boys, but this is just the start

Yorkshire's players celebrate in their dressing room after winning the County Championship.
Yorkshire's players celebrate in their dressing room after winning the County Championship.
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ANDREW GALE had to sit and watch the county trophy being lifted because of a ban that he cannot talk about. But it was no less a momentous occasion for the Yorkshire captain.

What an absolutely fantastic day that was for Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

As a club we’ve worked hard for this over a number of years, it’s been a long time coming but to get over the line in the fashion we did leaves me so proud of the boys.

It was a very emotional moment for me when the boys beckoned me on to the pitch and I lifted that trophy.

I’ve been playing for Yorkshire since I was 10 years old, I’ve gone right through the age groups with a lot of those lads and to then take over as captain five years ago, have two or three runners-up medals and play in the Champions League and then finally get my hands on that trophy, it feels like I’ve got the monkey off my back now.

I’ll go down in Yorkshire’s history books as the captain who led Yorkshire to the title. That’s a very proud moment.

On a personal level, it’s been a tough week not to be on the field leading the lads out, especially having been captain for five years not being able to take the lads over the line, but I had every confidence in the boys getting the job done and I’m absolutely ecstatic for them.

When I saw all the Yorkshire fans who had come down to Trent Bridge chanting my name at the end, it’s what dreams are made of. I’ve played all my career to be involved in something like that.

Of course I’m gutted not to take part in the game and lift the trophy with the boys, but they lifted the trophy, and that’s the main thing.

It was mixed emotions for me at the end; I wanted to be the one lifting the trophy, but it’s happened, we can’t dwell on it, the main thing is we lifted the trophy. Hopefully I’m lifting it next year because this is the start for Yorkshire and this won’t be the only time I have an opportunity to lift the trophy.

That’s the question now isn’t – can we dominate?

First of all we’re going to enjoy the moment – we’ve earned that.

But this group of players, I believe, will be talked about for a long time by Yorkshire members and people who are involved in cricket because this is not going to be a one-hit wonder type of thing, we have a group of players who can compete for a number of years.

When I took over as captain I remember sitting down with Stewart Regan who was the chief executive then and being the guy that I am I put a five-year plan together to win the County Championship.

I would have liked that to have been achieved within three years but that didn’t work out.

It’s certainly been a rollercoaster to this moment but where now?

We’ll have to sit down and think about our next five-year plan. It’s very different to what it was five years ago, it’s a different group of players etc.

But there’s no reason why we can’t go on now and dominate English cricket.

This has to be a start for us. Yorkshire can’t be going 13 years without winning a trophy or 32 years waiting for a County Championship, we want to go on now.

I’m sure the lads will have got a taste for it. They’ll want to enjoy this moment and the next few weeks, but when we sit down at the end of the season this will be a taster for Yorkshire cricket.

Just look at the stats and the strength of the Yorkshire core in that squad.

We had 10 of the 11 guys out there at Trent Bridge who came through the academy.

You look around teams in the country who can’t emulate that and they’re going to want to copy that.

Our academy is the best around, the hard work that goes into it from people like Martyn Moxon right down through the age groups, Richard Damms and Ian Dews, they work so hard in bringing these lads through, and to have a number of those here today, who have been through the Yorkshire academy, is just fantastic.

And as well as the young guys, we have Ryan Sidebottom, whose our Rolls Royce, isn’t he?

You talk about big players in big games, well he came out Friday morning and the way he bowled, he almost bowled them all out on his own.

It was a fantastic effort and he’s Yorkshire through and through.

Right now, we’ll enjoy each other’s company and sink a few beers.

All the families were down at Trent Bridge and that’s something we’ve worked hard at, we want to be a family club, a lot of the lads have got kids and we want them to be a part of this great success.

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THE roots of our title success began with our relegation three years ago.

Looking back on it now, that was a bit of a boost.

Playing in the second division allowed us to give the likes of Gary Ballance, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow an extended run in the side.

That’s four, five, six players under the age of 22 in the first team.

It’s very difficult to do that in the first division.

And getting promoted the first year back inspired the lads to win more trophies.

I think that relegation was maybe a watershed moment for us.

It was a horrible moment stood on the pitch that day but if there was any positive to take out of it, it was that we knew we had a group of players capable of competing in first-class cricket.

To throw them all in together in the first division would have been tough, but we learnt our trade in those days in the second division and when we got back we were ready.

It was certainly the dip on what has been a rollercoaster of a five years for me as captain.

Four out of the five years we’ve had success and it’s been an incredible run.

Somebody said to me today that in 68 games as a captain you’ve only lost eight games in first-class cricket as a captain – and I think that speaks volumes.

Not being able to play was tough, as I’ve already said, but it was important for me to be present for the players.

It was about staying calm overnight going into the final day, not doing anything different than we have going into any session.

I said to the players before the game started, I know I sound like a broken record but it’s process, process, process, that’s all it is. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s not get drawn into any press, or the end goal, and let’s not even try too hard to reach that goal.

Let’s just take it session by session, and within that, half an hour at a time, over by over, one ball at a time.

If we do that we’ll come out on top because we know we’re good enough to come out on top.

In the last few weeks the lessons of the last few seasons have helped us massively.

We’ve won our last four games very much as Durham did last season and the experiences that we had, particularly the last month of last season when we were leading and had to beat Durham and couldn’t, served us well.

It helped us not get carried away with the emotion of it all. We were very much focused on the process, session by session, ticking them off.

And it worked.

***Our exclusive Andrew Gale column is in association with Blacks Solicitors***

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