Andrew Gale: We're in good shape and raring to go for the new season
I think the lads are actually getting sick of getting asked the question of: ‘Can we win three in a row?’. We just really want the season to start now and get some wins under our belts and play some cricket.
We know we are a strong side and that if we can play the cricket we know we can consistently, we will be challenging right up there again, for sure.
The hunger is there and I haven’t seen anyone resting on their laurels or slacking off and thinking they have achieved everything they can in the game.
We have spoken as a group about what we need to do, the standards we need to set and how we are going to go about it and now it is about putting the plans into place, starting against Hampshire at Headingley tomorrow.
Obviously, the coin toss rules change allow the visiting captain to bowl first should they chose and I’d imagine with the weather we’ve had, Hampshire will come and bowl.
I don’t think I will be putting my stripy blazer on much at Headingley this year!
It was certainly another busy off-season for me. Another baby in the Gale household arrived at Christmas, on Christmas Day at 8pm, so it has been pretty hectic in the house since!
In terms of preparing for the season personally, I have had really good preparation. I got a few runs out in the UAE against Lancashire and a couple of starts against the MCC and then made a hundred in a practice match.
It is as good as I felt in a long time; whether that is a good or a bad thing, I don’t know.
One downer before the start of the season is losing Tim Bresnan for early season, which is a bit disappointing. But if there was any time you would want to lose someone, it’s probably early season when the England boys are available.
Looking at the others, I have got to say Gary Ballance looks a million dollars. He looks refreshed and back to the old Gary Ballance that we know.
For such a young lad, Gaz has such a fantastic record. I thought he was binned off by England a little bit too quickly, but he has worked as hard as I have seen him work on his all-around game and I expect him to have a big summer and be banging that door down for England.
Everyone else has chipped in during pre-season. Ryan Sidebottom is looking in good form and bowling as quick as I have seen him bowl for a long time and he has got himself into fantastic shape this winter.
The good thing about this pre-season, even though it has been extended, is that it has allowed everyone some opportunity to get into some good form.
There’s no-one who is coming into the season who you are thinking: ‘It could go either way.’ Everyone has had time in the middle and scored a few runs or bowled a few overs.
It is going to be a big season for a fair few young players such as Will Rhodes and Karl Carver. Particularly with the spin situation, we don’t know when we will have Adil Rashid available.
Rhodesy is a good all-rounder and will be called upon at some stage and batted really well in the UAE and is showing he’s maturing a lot.
It’s about keeping the young lads grounded, but developing as well. It will be a squad effort like last year.
There was sad news in the cricket world this week when it was announced that Nottinghamshire and England batsman James Taylor was retiring because of a serious heart condition.
I was really saddened and a bit shocked. It came out of the blue; I was in the nets and Martyn Moxon said: ‘Have you seen this?’ and he said he’d received an email.
I know ‘Titch’ (Taylor) really well and I had two winters with him and he is one of my closest friends away from Yorkshire and we always meet up and go out for meal when we play against each other.
He is a lad who has worked really hard and had to overcome his critics, probably because of his size. But for a guy who is 26 years old, to get nearly 10,000 first-class runs shows how good a player he is.
It is so disappointing that after working so hard, he has had his career taken away from him. But I guess on the positive side, he will look back in five, 10 and 20 years time when he has family and stuff and think: ‘It could have been a lot worse.’ Who knows what he will go into now. But one thing is for sure, whatever Titch does, he gives it his full attention and really puts everything into it and I am sure he will be successful in whatever he does.