Andrew Gale says his Yorkshire squad were “complacent” last year as they narrowly avoided relegation in the Specsavers County Championship. But he is confident that will not be an issue in 2018.
Coach Gale was highly critical of White Rose four-day performances back in September, especially after a three-day hammering at the hands of champions Essex at Chelmsford to end the campaign.
It meant Yorkshire, although they finished fourth, avoided relegation by just two points.
After title wins in 2014 and 2015 and a near miss in 2016, their underperformance was a shock to the system for Gale and company.
“I thought as a group we got complacent last year,” said the former captain, at the helm for those two aforementioned title wins. “We almost expected to have success without working hard for it.
“I think the signs were there very early, but individual performances paved over the cracks.
“Going forward, since being back in training before Christmas, I’ve seen the appetite we’ve had before.”
After losing at Essex, an angry Gale said he felt let down by his players, particularly the seniors ones, and said the White Rose were lucky not to be relegated.
However, time is a healer, and he is now hoping last year can be good for his squad.
“No one is guaranteed success, but I think last year could be a real positive for us in the scheme of things,” he said. “I remember 2011 when we got relegated, it was the best thing that happened to the club in the long run because it meant change.
“I’m hoping last year was a case of one step backwards to take two forwards.”
The biggest plus point from Yorkshire’s Championship campaign was the performance of seamer Ben Coad in his breakthrough year.
Coad took 50 wickets having developed markedly during the previous winter, both physically and skill wise.
“It was fantastic for him, and I felt a bit sorry for him because he did so well in his first year and didn’t see any rewards for it from a team point of view,” said Gale, who is confident of more improvements.
“A couple of years ago, there were a lot of questions over whether Ben would make the cut. He hasn’t got express pace, although he has got good control. It probably took him a bit of time to work out what kind of bowler he would be.
“He was put in a similar bracket to Steve Patterson as a bowler, but we had a chat at the start of last season because we saw him as more of a wicket-taker.
“He just needed to be a bit more attacking in his mindset.
“I’ve just seen him grow from strength to strength in terms of confidence. Around the group now, it’s almost like he’s one of the senior bowlers. He has matured and he really backs himself.
“He knows he has still got developing to do, and he hasn’t rested on his laurels. He’s still getting stronger and searching hard for another yard of pace. But Ben’s biggest asset is his control and his mindset.”