Andrew Gale hailed the team spirit in the Yorkshire dressing room and admitted his pride following the county’s season-ending win over Worcestershire at New Road.
The White Rose secured their fifth Division One victory, by seven wickets inside three days, to take fourth place in the table for the second year running.
Gary Ballance scored a superb first-innings 194 and added 60 in their pursuit of a 134 target, while Ben Coad impressed with four wickets in Worcestershire’s second innings on day three.
The hosts conceded a lead of 88 and were bowled out for 221 shortly before tea.
Since losing back-to-back home games against Worcestershire at Scarborough and Somerset at Emerald Headingley, when Yorkshire were in the bottom two, they have won two and drawn two to finish the season strongly.
“I thought the last four or five weeks of the season was a really strong finish,” said Gale.
“To perform the way we have done, under immense pressure after the game at Scarborough and the loss against Somerset at Headingley, we were massively under the pump.
“But to win the Roses game and then kick on and back it up in the last three weeks of the season, it shows what character, determination, team spirit and togetherness we have in that dressing room.
“I’m really proud of the boys.
Day 3 highlights
“It’s pleasing (to finish fourth) because four or five weeks ago we were staring down the barrel. To finish fourth in the table is nice, and we’ll get a lot of confidence going forwards.
“This season has been tough. It’s been eventful and unpredictable.
“All the stuff that’s happened has been out of our control and has got in the way of performance.
“I’m amazed how the lads have stayed together throughout it all really because without that I’m sure we’d be playing Division Two cricket.
“People have questioned the team spirit, and that’s what’s annoyed me most – things such as the dressing room’s a fractious place and splitting up.
“But you don’t perform like that for the last five weeks of the season if you haven’t got that togetherness. It’s testament to the lads.
“During the last four weeks of the season, we have shown what Yorkshire Cricket is about.
“I’ve just said to the lads ‘When people look from the outside at Yorkshire, they should see a group of cricketers who are together and strong, determined, have a great attitude towards the game and play the game hard’.
“That’s what we’ve had.
“Skill wise, we know there’s lots and lots of work to do, and we’re far from the finished article. But if you keep the team spirit up, you always have a chance.”
GaleyLad</a> ???? “We’ve shown a lot of character to finish in the fashion we have done.”<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/YourYorkshire?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#YourYorkshire</a> <a href="https://t.co/NyKd9JJIBy">pic.twitter.com/NyKd9JJIBy</a></p>— Yorkshire CCC (YorkshireCCC) September 27, 2018
Ballance’s match return of 254 runs has pushed him up to a season’s Championship tally of 906 runs.
“Gary’s return to form has been quite immense towards the back end of the year,” said Gale. “We always know if Gary is in that sort of form, it puts us in good positions in games.
“Hopefully he can keep that form up at the start of next season.
“I’m really pleased for him to be able to finish in the manner he did with those match-winning contributions because he’s had a tough time of it with the captaincy and his own form.”
While Jack Brooks was Yorkshire’s leading Championship wicket-taker with 51, Coad wasn’t far behind with 48.
Gale added: “It’s a tough one losing Jack, who’s been a great ambassador for the club.
“The way he’s performed since he came on board, to be involved in the Championship-winning season, we wish him all the best at Somerset.
“It’s sad to see him go, but it’s time for others to step up and take his place.
“Ben Coad has certainly showed what he’s capable of by leading the attack. And there’s others waiting in the wings as well who will get their opportunity.”