The Holy Grail finally headed home in 2001. It had been a long time between drinks with Yorkshire picking up their first County Championship for 33 years.
Not since the glory years of the 1950s and 1960s, when Yorkshire won seven Championships in 10 seasons, had they secured English cricket’s greatest prize.
Under the leadership of David Byas Yorkshire were back amongst the elite at the turn of the millennium and the famous County Championship pennant would be flying high once more in the Broad Acres.
David Byas with the County Championship trophy in the Scarborough dressing room, 2001
“I take great pride in what we achieved that summer,” said Byas, whose team won nine of its 16 games to finish 16 points clear of second-placed Somerset.
“We had a great side and a lot of things seemed to come right that year. We’d been pushing hard for three or four years and the Championship was the culmination of that period. There was always a weight of expectancy on our shoulders playing for Yorkshire, always that pressure, so to win the title was a very special feeling.”
A month after Yorkshire had won the title; Byas was gone and was on his way to the county’s biggest rivals – Lancashire.
C&G success at Lord’s
Disaster struck for Yorkshire the following year and after winning the Championship they were relegated. Even though Championship cricket hit a low ebb, one-day cricket blossomed and the White Rose headed to Lord’s for the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy final against Somerset and victory was assured when Australian Matthew Elliott smashed an undefeated 128 from 125 deliveries with 16 fours.
Captain that day was Richard Blakey and the wicket-keeper believed the six-wicket victory over the West Country outfit was his biggest achievement in cricket.
“Of all my cricketing moments that was the most special,” he recalled.
“I would put it in front of playing for England. Don’t get me wrong playing for my country was a tremendous honour. But to lift a trophy for Yorkshire in front of a full house and partisan crowd at Lord’s – it doesn’t really get much better than that.
“The crowd that day seemed to be full of Yorkshiremen, and the lads celebrated long into the night.”
How the C&G Trophy was won…
- Yorkshire beat Devon, Northamptonshire, Essex and Surrey en route to the final
- It was the last time the club won a domestic trophy.
Somerset 256-8 (50 overs)
P Bowler 67
M Hoggard 10-0-65-5
R Sidebottom 9-0-49-2
Yorkshire 260-4 (48 overs)
M Elliott 128*
A McGrath 46*
RL Johnson 10-2-51-3
SOME FALLOW YEARS
Yorkshire’s relegation from Division One of the Championship was followed by the county playing for three seasons in the lower tier before achieving promotion at the end of the 2005 campaign under the captaincy of Craig White.
The next four seasons all saw the county very close to the relegation zone In the first division before Andrew Gale, in his first season as skipper in 2010, effected a complete transformation and led Yorkshire to third place. Had the county won one more game it would have been the champion county!
It was a temporary false dawn, however, as Yorkshire were relegated in 2011 and spent their fourth season in Division Two. This, though, is currently the record as only Lancashire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire have spent so few seasons in the lower tier.
Despite 2012 being the wettest summer for exactly 100 years, the White Rose, with new coach Jason Gillespie in post, bounced back to Division One at the first attempt and in the six seasons since have never finished lower than fourth.
CHAMPIONS AGAIN – AND TWICE
The twin highlights of these six years have undoubtedly been the two successive titles of 2014 and 2015. With Gale still at the helm and no fewer than eight England players available at one time or another there was no shortage of talent to achieve the success that they did.
The team lost only one match in each of the two seasons, won eight of their 16 in 2014 and 11 in the following year when they finished a most impresswive 68 points ahead of runners-up Middlesex. There were 26 consecutive undefeated games over the two years and this was Yorkshire’s best run since 1946. A wonderful achievement.