Yorkshire held a constructive and forward-looking annual general meeting on Saturday in a Headingley Long Room packed with the county club’s members.
The focus of media attention was on Geoffrey Boycott’s bid to be elected to the Club’s Board and although the former Yorkshire and England batting maestro failed in his attempt there was no acrimony and plenty of goodwill from both sides.
Geoffrey said that although he was disappointed not to gain a place on the Board nothing had changed and he wanted everyone to know that he loved the Club that had been part of his life for 60 years.
And Club chairman, Steve Denison, stressed that Geoffrey was a legend of the Club and he and the Board wanted to see him at Headingley at every possible opportunity.
“He will always be welcome here, so let’s hope that’s what happens going forward,” said Steve, who pledged that the Board would talk to Geoff about him becoming a global ambassador of the Club which is what they wished.
“We are desperately keen for everybody in the Club to be playing to their strengths and Geoffrey’s strength is in that ambassadorial role, shouting about Yorkshire County Cricket Club around the world and bringing people into the ground at Headingley, particularly on international days.” he added.
In a postal vote, 602 Yorkshire members voted in favour of Geoffrey being elected to the Board and 758 voted against.
Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur (1,306 votes for and 122 against) was elected to the Board along with retiring members Robin Smith (1,274 for and 160 against) and Sir Gary Verity (1,192 for and 229 against).
Explaining his decision to stand for the Board, Geoffrey said after the meeting: “I thought I could do some good for the Club. To all those people who voted for me, thank-you, and to those that didn’t I just want everybody to know that I love the Club. It’s been a part of my life for 60 years.
“I love its history, its traditions, and I know many of the members personally and I just wanted to put some points and views to help. It’s not going to change anything. I’ll be watching and supporting the team as I’ve always done. We have a very good set of players, we’ve got an excellent coach, good management behind the scenes, and they’re a pleasure to watch. I’ll be here for the first match of the season and I’ve already booked for Scarborough. It falls in nicely that I’m not commentating.”
Geoffrey’s former Yorkshire team-mate, John Hampshire, who also captained the White Rose side, received an overwhelming vote to elect him Club President in succession to ‘Dickie’ Bird who has been president for the past two years during which time Yorkshire have won the Championship title and then retained it.
To loud applause, the Chairman said that Dickie had not missed a match either home or away and had done a fantastic role as ambassador. John Hampshire was a very worthy successor.
Charlotte Evers was returned to the Yorkshire CCC Members’ Committee by an overwhelming majority and David Ryder was appointed a Vice-President of the Club in appreciation of his services over the past 40 years.
David, who started out as assistant secretary in 1975, retired from his full-time role as Director of Operations last October, but was persuaded to continue on a part-time basis.
The President’s Medal for outstanding voluntary services to the Club was awarded to long-serving member, Nigel Pullan, who writes for the Yorkshire Yearbook as well as providing written material in various other ways.
Yorkshire members voiced their appreciation at the meeting to Steve Denison for detailing and analysing the county’s plans over the next few years and to Director of Professional Cricket, Martyn Moxon, for his comments on Yorkshire’s 2015 season and his goals for the new campaign.
Steve said that all the lines they had drawn up regarding turnover were trending in the right direction. Membership numbers were growing and there was every indication that they would continue to do so. The same applied to T20 turnover which was already up on the same time last year.
Test and international cricket was a key element of their financial performance and they were significantly ahead of this time last year on ticket sales which was a fantastic testimony to what they were offering on international cricket at Headingley.
Diversity was crucial in order to receive public funding and they had to make sure they were doing things right and had the right skills in place for the redevelopment they wanted. There had to be an appropriate and balanced structure for the running of the club and they had got this.
It was essential that they redevelop the south stand and although this would not be easy they had a plan in place which they were implementing.
From next year, the County Championship will be reduced from 16 matches to 14 but Steve stressed that Scarborough was very important to Yorkshire as a venue and he promised that it would remain so. He also referred to the ECB redevelopment plan for Bradford Park Avenue which would be a wonderful facility without costing Yorkshire a penny.
Martyn said that there had been some very satisfying results last season as far as the County Championship was concerned and to retain the title was testimony to the hard work of all of the players and the staff of the club.
The batting as a group did not fire in the same way as the previous season and they had to rely more on individuals to get them out of some tricky situations and there had been several outstanding contributions. The bowling had been very consistent and outstanding throughout a summer in which many records had been set and milestones reached at all levels.
Martyn accepted that the challenge for improvement was still there in one-day cricket and they had been bitterly disappointed to be beaten in the semi-final of the Royal London Cup. The biggest disappointment, however, had been not even qualifying for the quarter-finals of the T20 competition and they had worked hard throughout the winter on making sure that the skills and decision-making would be very much better this year. He was very pleased that the younger players, particularly, had executed their skills very well under pressure on the recent pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi and it had been a good effort to retain the T20 Trophy out there after beating domestic T20 Champions, Lancashire, in the final.
Martyn felt certain that the signing from Northamptonshire of David Willey would help to bolster the one-day team immediately and he was delighted they would be welcoming back New Zealander, Kane Williamson, who would be replaced when unavailable from mid-July by Australian, Travis Head, who was an exciting young batsman recommended by their coach, Jason Gillespie.
Members were pleased to hear Martyn say that whenever possible England players would be allowed to play for their counties and he thought that most if not all of their England players would be available at the start of the new season – including Joe Root.