Andrew Gale: Unbelievable feeling something we can repeat again next year
It feels unbelievable to have won the County Championship title again – to win it like we did on the first day down at Lord’s against Middlesex was amazing.
It was a little bit weird in the fashion that we found out we were champions again. I was batting out in the middle with Alex Lees and then I saw all the lads on the balcony started clapping and that began to spread around the ground and there were a few cheers of ‘champions’ - it was a really special feeling.
There were no high fives or jumping for joy out in the middle because we were still playing, so it was a rather sedate celebration between Alex and myself.
We obviously knew the situation before we started batting and that we had got the five points that we needed and we knew that Nottinghamshire needed to be bowled out for less than 350 and at that time (when we went out) they were 120-odd for seven, so we knew they would be struggling.
So when it did come around, there was a little bit of a fist pump to the lads on the balcony and I just got back to concentrating on my batting.
On a personal note it was a little bit disappointing not to quite get to three figures but, if I’m being honest, given what we’ve achieved this season, I’d take that all day long.
What’s particularly pleasing for me about winning the title this time around is that we’ve had to win in a different fashion this year.
Last year we blew teams away a lot, by an innings sometimes and, while we have done that a couple of times this year, we’ve not done it as consistently.
But we have had so many players missing through England call-ups – at times, last-minute call-ups and it has been tough.
Then, with myself missing the first game at the start of the season and Ryan Sidebottom going down injured, that made things difficult, but we’ve made sure that we haven’t used that as an excuse and we’ve just got on with the job and whoever has come into the side has contributed in a massive way.
I think it says a lot about the club that we have coped with all these players being called away and shows how good our squad really is.
Anyone else in the country who would have had seven or eight players missing at various stages throughout the season would be seriously depleted and probably fighting relegation.
But as well as showing that we’ve got a strong squad, it also shows that we have a strong winning mentality – we know how to win games of cricket now and when we get ahead in games now we know we’re going to be ruthless and put our foot on the throats of the opposition and take the game away from them.
Another thing this season is that somebody has always always stood up to get the job done for us.
If we’ve been bowled out cheaply, the bowlers have run in hard and bowled them out cheaply too – that happened at Warwickshire and against Durham at Scarborough.
Or, if we’ve been 50-4 or something like that, somebody down the order has always come in and put together a massive partnership.
This is all the result of lots of hard work in recent years and, looking back, I think 2012 was really a watershed year for us.
We’d been relegated, but we came back up straight away and it created a winning mentality which allowed us to play a lot of young players all at once.
The lads liked the feeling of winning and, when we arrived back in Division One, we didn’t really fear anybody.
If I’m being honest, I don’t think this team has reached its peak yet.
There are certain areas that we can improve on. I feel that all year we haven’t really played the perfect game and our top order batting needs to be looked at as that is definitely an area where we can improve.
But there’s no reason why we can’t repeat this again next year. I think the biggest challenge is to win it back-to-back because you’re always wondering whether, after winning it once, people will rest on their laurels and sit back and think that they’ve achieved everything they possibly could have done.
To win it back-to-back like we have, you know that the ambition is there.
And there is a lot of personal ambition in the dressing room too. There are a lot of guys who are on the cusp of England duty, or are already in the England side – so they have a point to prove to themselves and the selectors, so I think we – as a group – can go even further and achieve more success.