Owen Jervis has paid tribute to James O’Conner, who has stepped down as the captan of the Yorkshire’s top-flight D40 side.

All-rounder O’Conner led the county’s primary disability side to promotion to the National Quest League last year, but he has opted to step back from leadership duties due to other time constraints.

He will continue to play for a side who gained a remarkable win under his leadership at Sussex on Sunday – with only nine players available due to late withdrawals.

“James has probably been our most successful captain, he’s done a fantastic job,” said team manager Jervis.

“He was part of that movement to increase professionalism within our set-up. He demanded standards off the field, and he’s performed on it. He was the top run-scorer last year, for example, and took a bunch of wickets as well.

“He’s a genuinely nice guy, and he just wants to help people.

“He’s just got to a point where his ambitions in cricket and his ambitions in life are at a crossroads, and he just wants to take some time out from the captaincy.

“He’s still going to play for us, which is brilliant news.”

Jervis continued: “His leadership style was that he was very much his own man. He succeeded or failed purely on his decisions. More often than not, he succeeded, which is shown by our recent results.

“He’s a very committed guy, and there were no half measures with him in charge.

“He brought trophies and has helped to give us more of a higher profile now than we’ve ever had.”

A new captain will be appointed before Sunday’s home fixture with reigning champions Hampshire at Higham.

O’Conner’s last game in charge, at Ansty on Sunday, is one he and his team-mates won’t forget in a hurry.

They won by two runs defending a target of 191, with Robert Hewitt defending three of the last ball as Sussex finished on 188-8 from their 40 overs.

The day’s star was middle order batter Cameron Sweeney, who hit a fabulous 97 off 82 balls with six sixes to help recover from 52-3 to 190-7.

“Man for man, I felt we were better than Sussex and was confident of winning,” said Jervis. “But it’s totally different when you only have nine players.

“We didn’t get enough runs even though it was a defendable target. Cam Sweeney was awesome again. He’s having quite the season.

“We were effectively 0-2 going out and 52-5. To recover to where we did was quite the effort. The bowlers then did an outstanding job.”

John Kenward-Nash claimed three wickets added to two for O’Conner and one apiece for Alex Jervis and Matthew Bateman, though Sussex recovered from 162-8 to keep the game alive.

“I never really panicked aside from the last 10 overs when the lads thought they’d won it and the game was drifting,” said Jervis. “I could see they were getting close.”

The side have started the season with a loss against Lancashire at home and a win at Sussex.

“Our next game is against Hampshire, who are probably the best team in the country,” said Jervis. “But we’ll be welcoming back a lot of players who couldn’t make the trip down to Sussex.

“We’re expecting to have Gordon Laidlaw back, Edward Denton. We won’t be at full strength as we’re missing Luke Riley, but we’ll be close.

“My ambition has always been to finish mid-table, and I think we will.

“We got a wake-up call when we didn’t beat Lancashire.

“The lads are not used to losing, and they perhaps underestimated it slightly. They batted nicely and we didn’t bowl so well.”

Yorkshire’s D40 development side have also started the season with a win and a loss a level below in the Pursuit League North, while the S9 side have won one and lost two in their North League.

Jervis said: “For me, it’s about establishing ourselves in the Quest competition and maintaining that Pursuit team.

“It’s difficult because I’ve got to name a top seven players who can’t drop down into the Pursuit League. Then everyone else interchanges.

“What I’m tending to find is that I have a lot of availability for home games, but asking people to travel to Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey is challenging.

“But the development side, we just want to create more opportunity. We don’t necessarily want them winning the league. It’s more about bringing on players. We’re definitely on the right track for that.

“We’ve signed a few players. Matt Bateman has come in and done a good job, Kyle Clayton from Lancashire has come over, he hits the ball hard and is a larger than life character.”

Despite Hampshire winning the National Quest title last year, they currently sit bottom of the table with two defeats from two. Jervis added: “That will be our toughest game.

“But teams are a very different proposition when they travel away from home because not all players will travel. We’ll see how it goes.”

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