Failure to press home advantage in Royal London Cup leaves Andrew Gale frustrated
ANDREW GALE has described Yorkshire’s one-day cricket as “one step forward, two steps back” as he reflected on their exit from the Royal London Cup.
The county’s first-team coach watched his men go out of the competition this week as Yorkshire failed to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 2013.
Gale was delighted with the consistency that Yorkshire showed in reaching five successive quarter-finals between seasons 2014-2018 that also brought three semi-final appearances.
But although Yorkshire showed flashes of their quality in this year’s tournament it was ironically their inconsistency that cost them as they finished sixth in the nine-county North Group with a record of two wins, three defeats, two ties and one no-result.
“We were too inconsistent,” said Gale. “It feels like one step forward, two steps back.
“You’re so encouraged by some of the things that you see and then, another time, you’re thinking, ‘Why have we played like that?’
“We did some good stuff, but we didn’t do the good things for long enough – that sums up our tournament.”
Yorkshire have not won a one-day trophy since 2002 and had hopes of featuring in the last One-Day Cup final to be staged at Lord’s before the showpiece event moves to Trent Bridge from next year onwards.
Gale had described it as one of his personal ambitions to be part of a Lord’s final having sat in the stands as an Academy player when Yorkshire beat Somerset in the old Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy 17 years ago. That dream can no longer be realised despite a rousing start to this year’s competition that saw Gale’s men thrash Leicestershire by 213 runs, in the process racking up 379-7 – the highest one-day total recorded at Headingley.
But there followed three last-ball finishes that resulted in ties against Warwickshire and Derbyshire and defeat to Lancashire which, had those games gone Yorkshire’s way, would have given them four extra points and seen them qualify in third position at Lancashire’s expense.
In their other games Yorkshire were soundly beaten by Nottinghamshire and Worcestershire, won a rain-affected match at Northamptonshire and saw their final encounter with Durham wrecked by the weather.
“Apart from the first game against Leicester we weren’t able to put a full performance together with bat, ball and in the field,” said Gale. “To win white-ball games you need to be able to put in a full performance.
“We had Worcester on the rack at 60-4, for example, only to let it go in the last 20 overs of their innings because we couldn’t hold the pressure for long enough, and you’re left scratching your head.
“But if you look at our stats individually they’re good – they’re up there with the teams at the top. But we haven’t been ruthless, we haven’t had people who’ve put their hands up and got us over the line. That’s been the difference.”
Gale added: “Looking back, the three close matches… that’s what cost us in the final analysis.
“We should definitely have beaten Derbyshire; they were chasing 225 off 22 overs and should have got nowhere near that.
“The Lancashire game, needing 80 with six wickets left, we should have got those runs at a canter really.
“Those games, in particular, knocked the wind out of our sails, and I’ve said to the lads that we have to learn from that because it shows that every game, every run counts – even more so when the T20 matches come round.”
With Yorkshire mathematically eliminated ahead of their final fixture, Gale took the opportunity to look at several youngsters for the visit of Durham.
Batsman Tom Loten, wicketkeeper Ben Birkhead and pace bowler Jared Warner were handed their first outings in senior cricket, while batsman Will Fraine made his first appearance since joining from Nottinghamshire – although, in the only cricket possible, Durham batted and reached 182-2.
“There’s a few of them that we wanted to have a look at earlier in the tournament, but because it turned out every game was sort of a cup final we couldn’t really get them in,” said Gale.
“It was just to give them some experience and to have a look at them, but with the weather that we had we’re probably none the wiser. They learn quickly at that age and they sink or swim, and I guess the tournament next year will accelerate the development of a few of those blokes.
“You could see a situation when The Hundred’s on at the same time that some of them could stand up and improve vastly (in the One-Day Cup) to the extent that, by the end of The Hundred, they might be pushing a few others for first-team places.”
Birkhead, in particular, caught the eye in the limited play possible against Durham.
Gale said of the 20-year-old gloveman: “Birky did well behind the stumps. It is a concern for us if Tatts (Jonny Tattersall, the first-choice wicketkeeper) breaks a finger or goes in the back or something. Have we got a replacement? But Birky showed that he can do the job and ticked the right boxes.”