Chris Waters: Elevation of Andrew Gale at Yorkshire could be the perfect fit ... again
ON the one hand, it is something of a calculated gamble.
How could it not be after Yorkshire yesterday appointed as first-team coach a 32-year-old with no experience of coaching a first team?
On the other, it is an eminently sound and sensible decision by the club.
Indeed, the more one thinks about it, the more one thinks that Andrew Gale and Yorkshire could again be the perfect fit.
For the past seven seasons, Gale has captained Yorkshire to unprecedented success in the modern era.
During that time, Yorkshire won two County Championships, achieved a runners-up finish, twice came third and also won promotion.
Gale helped to create the very culture that made it possible in tandem with director of cricket Martyn Moxon and former first XI coach Jason Gillespie.
If anyone knows how to manage the Yorkshire players, how to get the best from them, it is Gale, whose experience of Yorkshire CCC is second to none and whose man-management skills are already proven.
Having failed in their attempt to land Paul Farbrace, the England assistant coach, and having also been linked with prominent coaches such as Andy Flower and Richard Dawson, it is fair to say that Gale was not Yorkshire’s first choice.
The club received 16 applications when they advertised internationally, but at a press conference at Headingley yesterday to announce Gale’s appointment, Moxon spoke of how it became increasingly clear that he was the “obvious choice” and that “the best man for the job was already at the club”.
The best accidents are always the happiest ones, and this has the air of a move that although far from likely when it was announced that Gillespie was returning to Australia, seems a natural step for both Yorkshire and Gale.
The club are keen on continuity (Moxon is approaching a decade back at Headingley), while Gale – who turns 33 on Monday week – had long-term coaching ambitions and perhaps only another couple of years at best remaining as a player.
Last year, he averaged 21 in first-class cricket, dropping below the standards he expects from himself, and he ended the season publicly casting doubt on whether he wanted to continue as captain.
As such, the transition from player to coach feels timely, and although he might not have taken the usual route to the biggest coaching position in domestic cricket, he is Level Three qualified and has for many years run his own coaching business.
Gale has shown that he can rise to a challenge, and it should not be forgotten that Yorkshire took something of a calculated gamble on him too when they made him their youngest captain since the 1930s.
Moxon’s judgement on that occasion was spot-on, and there is no reason to suspect that it is not so again.
Gale’s appointment has been warmly greeted by relevant parties.
On Twitter, Jason Gillespie called it “a great appointment”, while Yorkshire players also tweeted their approval.
Jack Brooks called it “an astute move”, Tim Bresnan pronounced himself “proud and pleased”, while Adam Lyth declared himself “really pleased”, just a flavour of the many ringing endorsements.
Gale has great respect in the dressing room, and the fact that the dressing room is blessed with outstanding senior players such as Brooks, Bresnan and Lyth gives him an immediate advantage.
Previously, he has spoken about how the dressing room practically runs itself, given its quality and experience, and this will help him as he beds into the role and embarks on what will clearly still be something of a learning curve. Significantly, though, he does not have to start his coaching journey working with unfamiliar players at a different club, adapting to different methods and ways of doing things.
As captain, Gale was always ‘up-and-at-’em’, a tough man doing a tough job. But he is also canny and perceptive, and he has the vision to take Yorkshire forward in an evolving sport – not least in white-ball cricket, where they have not won a trophy since 2002.
No doubt those wishing Gale all the best in his new position will reflect also on the service he gave to Yorkshire as a player.
He was a batsman who made the best of himself, a player capable of splendid and courageous innings, and who wore the White Rose as proudly as any man in the club’s long history.
Indeed, if you were to cut him in half, the word “Yorkshire” would no doubt be inscribed on his innards. As qualifications go for this new challenge, that is not a bad start.