Everyone here at Yorkshire County Cricket Club is looking forward to the break for the Christmas holidays. As we approach the end of 2022, there is cause for everyone at the Club to take pride in the work that has been done over the last 12 months and look to the future. We are already seeing results in terms of bringing more people into the Club and building on the foundations we have laid around making YCCC as inclusive as possible.
Yesterday, we announced our new innovative membership proposition for 2023, which is due to go on sale on Wednesday 11 January. Following wide consultation with members, tickets purchasers and the wider cricket community in Yorkshire, we are pleased to offer a proposition that makes qualified memberships more inclusive and accessible.
In terms of the cricket itself, in my first few weeks I have been fortunate enough to meet with the backroom staff and many of the players from the men’s and women’s teams. There were some clear positives last season with the Northern Diamonds winning the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy, and the men’s team reaching T20 Finals Day – not to mention success in the Second XI County Championship and across county age group levels. There was also the obvious disappointment of the Men’s First XI relegation to the second division of the County Championship.
From these brief encounters, I have already been struck by the teams’ drive and determination to succeed. The arrival of new players, including next season’s Club Captain Shan Masood, will inject more positivity into the camp. I am absolutely committed to working hard with the cricket department to ensure that we are in the best position to deliver success on the field in 2023 and beyond.
I want to highlight two key examples of how we are welcoming people into the Club. At the end of November, we welcomed 15 asylum seekers, from six different countries, to a special event at Headingley Stadium, organised as a result of a partnership between the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, Our Lady of Kirkstall Friends of Migrants group, and Horsforth Town of Sanctuary. For many of the attendees, this was their first exposure to cricket, and it was fantastic to hear about them getting involved across the day, trying their hand at the game for the first time.
This evening, we’re looking forward to welcoming people down to our end-of-year Christmas Carol service. It is the latest in a line of events that celebrate the great diversity of faith we have in the community, including our hugely successful inaugural Diwali celebration a few months ago.
Finally, I also wanted to reflect on this week’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee and the testimony of the Club’s Chair, Lord Patel, alongside other witnesses, which gave us much to consider, particularly in terms of the state of the wider cricketing landscape across the country.
We will continue to stand in solidarity with those who have been affected by racism and discrimination, working alongside the ECB and other organisations to ensure we are establishing best practice in this field through the implementation of our EDI plan.
During the session, Lord Patel spoke particularly eloquently about the great work that has been taking place on our Pathways Programme, and how breaking down cost barriers related to kit and coaching, as well as other measures to reduce bias in the selection process, has helped drive participation. The stats are so impressive from my point of view: a 60% increase in participants from a diverse background in our Boys County Age Group; a 40% increase in attendance for regional observations across the board; and a 62% increase in participation in observations in the Girls County Age Group in one year. We are keen to continue our work in encouraging women and girls to get involved in cricket, and in 2023 we’re investing in upgrading facilities to ensure we are fully inclusive of female players and fans alike
This combination of innovation, inclusion and investment are important to securing the long-term future of the club, giving us the stability to succeed both on and off the pitch. We have a fantastic stadium here, and a loyal membership, and my vision for the club sees us getting even more people down, not just to attend matches, but also other events throughout the year.
By demonstrating genuine commitment to driving the game forward, we have received recognition from a number of people involved in the game that we can be a template to follow for others, benefiting communities not just in Yorkshire, but across the UK. We recognise we have a long way to go, and we must not forget about recent history, but I am full of optimism for the year ahead.
I hope everyone has a restful Christmas break, I very much look forward to welcoming you all into Headingley in the New Year.
Yorkshire CCC CEO