Cricket: Yorkshire motivated by history rather than afraid of it, insists skipper Andrew Gale
Captain Andrew Gale claims Yorkshire are motivated and not burdened by history as they chase a third successive Specsavers County Championship title.
No side have won three championships in a row since Yorkshire themselves achieved the feat under Brian Close from 1966-68.
Gale said: “I don’t think we feel the weight of that because when you turn up and play for Yorkshire there is a weight of expectation anyway. You are expected to win trophies. That is part and parcel of being a Yorkshire cricketer.
“This year we will go in and give it our best shot. The lads don’t need any motivation - win three championships and in a row and go down with the legends of Yorkshire cricket.
“We don’t feel the pressure of that. The lads are embracing it.”
Yorkshire, who lost to the MCC last week in the traditional season curtain-raiser in Abu Dhabi, play two more friendlies against Derbyshire and Leeds Bradford MCCU before beginning their campaign against Hampshire on April 17.
Gale expects the challenge to be tougher than ever this season with promoted sides Lancashire and Surrey bolstering the quality of the First Division.
The 32-year-old said: “We are obviously positive and confidence is high without taking anything for granted.
“We believe it is going to be the hardest year we have had. The division looks as strong as it has been and everyone is probably going to raise their game against us. We need to be on top of that.”
The 2016 domestic season will be the last in the current format before the England and Wales Cricket Board starts to make changes from next year. The top division is to be reduced from nine to eight teams and the season is to be divided into more clearly defined blocks for the three formats of the game.
Gale, speaking at the domestic season launch at Old Trafford, said: “I enjoy the 16-game (Championship) format but I am not against 14 games.
“I think it will probably make for better cricket because teams will have their better players out playing longer with more rest around that, and Twenty20 is better in a block from a playing point of view.”
The introduction of a dedicated late-season block for Twenty20 cricket has been viewed by some as a possible stepping stone towards a new, streamlined and franchise-based competition, similar to Australia’s Big Bash, in the future.
That, however, remains to be seen and for the time being the NatWest T20 Blast will continue.
And Steven Croft, captain of last year’s winners Lancashire, believes the competition is stronger than it is sometimes given credit for.
Croft said: “Franchises have been mentioned and I think that is the only other option, but I think the Blast is in a good place.
“There is some great cricket being played and it has developed some great players. I think the Blast, as a competition, is a good one.”