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Yorkshire gets behind President Boycott

— 25 March 2012

Geoffrey Boycott, above, was elected President of Yorkshire County Cricket Club by an overwhelming majority at the Club’s annual general meeting in the East Stand Long Room at Headingley Carnegie on Saturday.

It was also revealed that Michael Vaughan had been co-opted on to the Management Board and that Joe Sayers had been made first team vice-captain for the coming season.

Of the proxy vote 1,115 members were in favour of Geoff being installed as President and only 109 against – a majority in favour of 91.09 per cent – while the vote in the hall was virtually unanimous, with only three against.

Geoff told the members he was delighted to be voted in as President, and he thanked everyone for their support. There was all-round approval when he said bluntly: “The only thing that really matters to the membership is that Yorkshire do well in Championship cricket. The team can play well in Twenty20 and 40-over cricket, but if they play badly in the Championship they will let you down.”

Geoff said that promotion to the First Division of the Championship was essential this coming season: “The Club will celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2013, and in our anniversary year we should be striving to win the Championship. We cannot do that in the Second Division. We have got to get out of it.

“The young players have to perform, and some of them didn’t do so last season when they let themselves and the Club down. That has to stop, and they have to help to get promotion, because Championship cricket is part of our heritage.”

Geoff said that the first game he saw at Headingley was in 1952, when he sat on a wooden bench as an 11-year-old watching Fred Trueman terrorise India with three wickets as the first four fell without a run scored.

He had gone on to be a player, captain, Committee representative and Board member, in fact practically everything apart from gateman and groundsman: “As an American President once said, you cannot please everybody all of the time, but I believe I know what I am talking about, and will continue to say so.”

He promised that he would not be sitting in the Hawke suite of Headingley Carnegie Pavilion all of the time this season, but he would be talking to the members: “I believe I have an understanding with the members, and that they have with me – they got me my job back when a former Committee sacked me.”

Board member and former Club President and Chairman Robin Smith said that Geoff had been nominated as President because he was a person of stature, hard-working and respected and a good ambassador for the Club. He would not avoid controversy, but he would unite the Club and oppose the ECB on any move to reduce the number of Championship matches.

Geoff was a loyal Yorkshireman who had played for 25 years, had enormous energy, and had spent a lot of time looking at young players in the nets.

Chairman and acting Chief Executive Colin Graves opened the meeting by saying that he had reflected on what a lot of the members had thought about last seasont was very disappointing to be relegated in the Championship, but there was no point in looking back.

Colin would be meeting all the players and giving them dinner on Thursday: “I will put my arms around them, and lift them up. Last year is history. We have some fantastic young talent in Yorkshire, and that is the thing we have to look forward to. When I attend ECB meetings they say we have the best squad in English cricket. We think Andrew Gale is the right person to captain the side, and we have full confidence in him.”

A flat coaching system had operated under Martyn Moxon, and a watershed had been reached at the end of last season after talk about restructuring for 18 months. Three new people had been brought in – first team coach Jason Gillespie, senior second team coach Paul Farbrace, and development manager Richard Damms. The Club had a new philosophy within the coaching staff, and the players were motivated by it.

Without Test cricket at Headingley Carnegie finances would be in a perilous state, but over the next seven years the Club should be in a healthy financial situation and the policy of the Board was to pay down debt as quickly as possible.

Colin said Geoff Boycott was retiring from the Board, and he wanted to pay tribute to him for being very supportive. He had always gone with what the Board had wanted, and there was no better ambassador than Geoff for Yorkshire CCC.

The Chairman had let his colleagues on the ECB know that Yorkshire wanted to keep 16 Championship matches a season. There were big problems in the scheduling of county cricket, and to make it all fit was well nigh impossible. It was a nightmare not easily resolved, but it had been written in stone that if Yorkshire lost members in any numbers through any reduction in Championship cricket this would be underwritten by ECB finances.

Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon returned early from the preseason tour of Barbados to give his report. He said he had never been involved in relegation before, and he certainly did not enjoy it. It had made it a difficult winter for him.

Martyn admitted that things had not worked out as he would have liked without an overseas player last season, and the team had not played well enough for long enough to win Championship games. They had got into potentially match-winning situations before letting things slip through immaturity, carelessness and naivety. They had lacked consistency in one-day cricket, but they had claimed some notable scalps on the way.

They had been working on these points during the winter, and although it was early days he had been very pleased with the way the team had performed in Barbados. The batsmen had made some big scores, and the team had done well to win the Twenty20 competition.

Martyn’s aim was to play a team made up predominantly of home-grown players who would be successful for some time to come, and to help to win in the short term they had signed Australian Phil Jaques on a non-overseas basis. Phil had done very well when previously with Yorkshire, and he would be a great plus this season.

Yorkshire were looking into the possibility of signing an overseas player, and Colin said there was money in the budget if one was required. If one came it would be a fast bowler, and he expected that an announcement would be made within the next two or three weeks.

Martyn also paid tribute to Sayers for doing a very good job in difficult circumstances on taking over as captain last season when Gale was injured. The players had responded well to him. Joe’s form pre-season had been very good, and it had been agreed to make him the official vice-captain.

Colin confirmed that Michael Vaughan had been co-opted on to the Board which, with Geoff Boycott as President, was a step in the right direction.

Former Yorkshire and England all-rounder Richard Hutton was appointed a Vice-President of the Club, and Dr. Keith Howard, founder of the Emerald Trust whose generosity had enabled the museum to be built, was appointed an Honorary Life member.