England Physical Disability World Cup winner and Yorkshire’s national title-winning captain Gordon Laidlaw has called time on his illustrious playing career.
Laidlaw, 43-years-old, has opted to step away from the playing side of the game, both with Yorkshire and in league cricket with south Yorkshire side Warmsworth.
Undoubtedly, batter Laidlaw retires as an England and Yorkshire legend. He has played county cricket for close to the last 17 years and was a World Cup winner with England in 2015.
Edinburgh-born but a native of Doncaster, Laidlaw explained his decision.
He said: “I guess my mind knows what to do but my body isn’t there anymore.
“There’s been a few times this year where I’ve been in the field thinking, ‘What am I doing?’ When I’m in position in the field, I’m alright. But getting there has been a struggle.
“I actually got myself back to being quite fit this year, but I still felt it.
“I always said that I wanted to play cricket to enjoy it, and this summer hasn’t been as enjoyable as I’d want. The success we had was unbelievable, and I loved that. But physically not being able to do what I’d want to as well as I’d want to was a bit of a frustration.”
Laidlaw has announced his decision today, on international day of disabled persons. He captained Yorkshire to this year’s National Quest League title, one of two career highlights.
He has handed over the captaincy of that D40 team to players’ player of the season Matt Bateman. It has also been confirmed that Owen Morris and Alistair Domville will continue in their roles as captains of Yorkshire’s D40 Pursuit and S9 Terriers teams in 2024.
“When I retired from England in 2018, I wasn’t ready to retire completely from playing. I still felt I was able to play and make a difference,” continued Laidlaw.
“I wanted to help Yorkshire win the Pursuit League and get back to competing nationally at least. We’re ahead of the game with winning it, and that’s amazing.
“We always talk about helping to leave the shirt in a better place than when you picked it up, and certainly for Yorkshire and England – looking at the (Physical Disability) squad they’ve just announced for India – that’s the case.
“For Yorkshire, there’s new players joining all the time and coming through.
“Matt taking on the captaincy now, getting ready for his second year with us, it shows we’re attracting good, quality players who can take us forwards. He has got lots of experience, and he’ll do a great job.
“You always hear professionals say they know when it’s the right time, and that’s now for me.
“I’m happy to – and want to – still be involved with disability cricket with Yorkshire and England where I can, and also at club level. But that’s not in a playing capacity.
“I’ll miss the camaraderie in the dressing room a lot but not being out on the field. I’m 43, but my body feels like it’s 10-15 years older than what I am.”
Of his career highlights, Laidlaw said: “I’ve probably achieved everything I need to achieve in disability cricket. I’ve won the title with Yorkshire, won the World Cup with England and played in the Disability Premier League.
“To be able to win a World Cup was something I’d never have dreamed of as a young lad growing up, and I’d say that’s my biggest achievement.
“Playing international cricket is a massive thing in itself, but to go and win a World Cup in 2015 was brilliant, especially given it was in Bangladesh, which was completely alien to us in terms of conditions and such.
“From a Yorkshire point of view, this season has been the pinnacle. We won the Pursuit the year before, and our ambitions were to stay in the Quest League. So to go on and win it is the best thing Yorkshire Disability Cricket has ever achieved. To be a part of that makes me very proud.”
Laidlaw is confident Yorkshire can back up this season’s Quest triumph.
“They definitely can, no doubt,” he said.
“It will be hard because you’re up there to be shot at instead of being the underdogs. Everybody will be desperate to beat us. That’s a good place to be in because we’re seen as one of the best counties again.”
And he added: “Disability cricket is as strong as it’s ever been in Yorkshire.
“The management team have played a big part in that, Owen Jervis working with the Yorkshire Cricket Board. The County Club have helped us, the ECB as well, and the set-up is more professional now.
“The pathway is there right from S1 to S9 and D40. To have two D40 teams is something we wouldn’t have thought of even 5-10 years ago.
“Any aspiring cricketer, and they don’t have to be young, has got a chance to play and feel a part of Yorkshire Cricket. That’s really powerful.”