ANDREW GALE has revealed that the disappointment of Yorkshire’s Twenty20 campaign is driving them on to win the Royal London Cup and complete an historic league and cup double.
The Yorkshire captain said that the club’s failure to qualify for the knockout stages of the T20 for a second year running was a massive motivation as they look to win the 50-over cup in addition to a second successive County Championship.
Yorkshire will clinch the Championship next week with two games to spare if they manage just five points against second-placed Middlesex at Lord’s.
Before then, they have the considerable matter of a Royal London Cup semi-final against Gloucestershire at Headingley tomorrow (10.30am) as they chase their first appearance in a Lord’s final since winning the old Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy in 2002.
“We were really gutted and disappointed about the Twenty20 stuff so we sort of had a point to prove to ourselves,” said Gale, with Yorkshire having finished second-bottom of the North Group after eight defeats in 14 matches.
“It hurt us as a club, and it hurt us as a squad. We had worked so hard for it and we were so desperate to do well, but, for whatever reason, it just didn’t go to plan.
“It left us with something to prove, and the lads have done really well since then in the Royal London stuff.”
Gale, who recently handed over the one-day captaincy to young batsman Alex Lees, effectively reducing himself to a back-up one-day player and enabling him to concentrate on being the country’s best four-day leader, believes Yorkshire are naturally suited to the 50-over format.
Yorkshire finished third in the Royal London Cup North Group on the back of some strong performances and booked their place in the semi-final by defeating Essex at Chelmsford, where Liam Plunkett turned the game on its head with a match-winning display with bat and ball.
“We’ve got the players to play that longer form of one-day cricket,” said Gale. “I think our players generally suit the format of the white ball, and the bowlers can bowl more of a Championship length.
“I thought we showed some good form in the 50-over tournament last year and we were disappointed to lose in the fashion that we did in the quarter-final against Durham. Hopefully, this year, we can go all the way.”
Yorkshire have never previously done the league and cup double.
They almost managed it in the 1960s, when their three successive Championships between 1966 and 1968 were flanked by Gillette Cup triumphs in 1965 and 1969, but the current squad are on the brink of creating history.
“It would be great for the club and all the supporters if we could do the double,” said Gale.
“Our form has been exceptional of late in one-day cricket, and it will be a massive game against Gloucestershire now.
“There will be a big crowd in, and it’s just about hammering the processes like we’ve done in previous games and not getting carried away with the occasion.
“It promises to be a cracking game.”
Although Yorkshire arguably start as favourites, Gloucestershire are dangerous opponents and they have an excellent recent record against Yorkshire.
Gloucestershire have won 10 of the last 13 completed one-day matches between the teams, including last year’s group game at Headingley, and their march to the last-four this year has been masterminded by the coaching partnership of former Yorkshire players Richard Dawson and Ian Harvey, which will add further spice to the occasion.
One of those defeats came during the 2004 Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy semi-final at Bristol, where the home team won by five wickets against a Yorkshire side containing Dawson and Harvey.
Yorkshire also lost the 2005 semi-final away to Hampshire, the 2008 semi-final away to Essex and the 2010 semi-final at home to Warwickshire, with the club having lost 15 of their last 18 one-day cup semi-finals in total dating back to 1979.
“A lot of the players in our dressing room won’t have played in the recent semis, so I don’t think that will count for anything,” said Gale, who top-scored with 64 in the 2008 defeat at Chelmsford.
“That hasn’t even been talked about among the players.
“That won’t hurt those lads, and we will go into this semi-final full of confidence.
“We’re very optimistic that we can do well.”
Gale’s positivity is echoed by first-team coach Jason Gillespie, who believes the Headingley crowd can be Yorkshire’s 12th man.
More than 5,000 advance tickets have been sold and a good walk-up is expected, with decent weather forecast.
“It will be a difficult game against Gloucestershire, but, with a partisan Yorkshire crowd behind us, that can really help,” said Gillespie.
“We had a great victory at Essex in the last round and we feel we can build on that win, and it would be a great achievement to reach a major final at Lord’s.”
Pace bowler Liam Plunkett and spinner Adil Rashid have been named in a 15-man squad but they may be unavailable due to England one-day international duty.
Squad: Bairstow, Ballance, Bresnan, Brooks, Carver, Fisher, Hodd, Leaning, Lees (capt), Lyth, Patterson, Plunkett, Pyrah, Rashid, Rhodes.