Flashback: Chris Adams lifts lid on why he snubbed Yorkshire

SHORT-LIVED TENURE:  Chris Adams on the day he was unveiled as the new Yorkshire captain in November, 2006. Picture: Tony Johnson
SHORT-LIVED TENURE: Chris Adams on the day he was unveiled as the new Yorkshire captain in November, 2006. Picture: Tony Johnson
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IT used to be said in cricket-writing circles that the busiest time to cover Yorkshire was in the winter rather than the summer.

That was when events off the field inevitably boiled over as the club routinely tore itself apart.

Throughout most of the 1970s and 1980s, for example, Yorkshire were famous more for their rows and wrangles than their runs and wickets.

Barely a day went by without at least a minor disagreement, usually surrounding a certain Geoff Boycott.

Happily, those days are behind Yorkshire, with the club much more of a contented ship.

Success helps, and a county that had been starved of it since the 1960s has had plenty lately, winning two successive County Championships and surely odds-on to retain their title next year.

Indeed, the last winter of discontent at Headingley occurred as far back as 2006-07, when just about everything that could go wrong did.

The nadir was when Chris Adams, the former England batsman and then Sussex captain, pulled out of a deal to become Yorkshire’s captain/manager, despite having been officially unveiled at a press conference at Headingley.

The background to Adams’s appointment was turbulent.

Craig White had stepped down as captain after a poor season in which Yorkshire narrowly avoided relegation.

Richard Blakey’s contract was not renewed, a decision that went down badly with the team.

Darren Lehmann left, Michael Lumb began to look around, and Anthony McGrath also said he wanted out in frustration at the way the club was being run.

Yorkshire effectively signed Adams not only to replace White as captain, but also director of cricket David Byas, who was not minded to accept an alternative managerial position.

Also that winter, Yorkshire signed South African batsman Jacques Rudolph on a Kolpak deal in a move heavily criticised by the England and Wales Cricket Board, who felt the club were exploiting regulations.

Adams’s U-turn – one of the most remarkable in cricket history – is documented in his new autobiography, ‘Grizzly: My Life and Times in Cricket’.

Ghosted by leading writer Bruce Talbot, it details the dramatic events which, until now, have never really been properly explained.

After guiding Sussex to the 2006 Championship, Adams writes that he was approached by Stewart Regan, the then Yorkshire chief executive, at the Professional Cricketers’ Association dinner at the end of that season.

Regan asked if Adams would be interested in heading up a planned restructuring of Yorkshire’s cricket operation, and a meeting followed with Regan and then Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves in London.

The captaincy alone was not sufficient to sway Adams, who had one year left on his Sussex deal.

At 36, he had started to contemplate life after playing and was tempted more by the managerial aspect.

“He (Graves) outlined that the club’s management were unhappy with the cricket structure at Yorkshire and that Geoff Boycott, who had been co-opted on to their board, had recommended a scenario where the captain called the shots on and off the field,” writes Adams.

But Adams, who described Yorkshire’s financial offer as “mind-blowing”, added that “my biggest mistake that day was not making sure everything we’d agreed in principle was subsequently put in writing”.

After discussions with his family, Adams accepted Yorkshire’s terms and travelled north for another meeting.

“The meeting with Regan and Graves didn’t start too well,” he remembers. “Regan told me that Michael Lumb was leaving to sign for Hampshire and Anthony McGrath was still insisting he wanted away as well. They told me there was no chance of Darren Lehmann returning as overseas player.

“I had asked for full control over the selection of his replacement but the next thing I knew Regan was telling everyone he had some great news – Younis Khan, the Pakistan batsman, had been signed for 2007.”

Adams continues: “I was stunned. What happened to the assurances I’d been given about overseas players at earlier meetings?

“Of all Pakistan’s batsmen he was probably best suited to English conditions but I was concerned how much he would play because of international commitments.

“At that stage, I was really beginning to have serious doubts but it felt as if I was on a conveyor belt and couldn’t get off.

“We went through my proposals to overhaul the coaching structure but again Regan pulled the rug from under my feet.

“I wanted a first-team coach and physiologist with Steve Oldham taking over as senior bowling coach and Kevin Sharp looking after the second team.

“Regan dismissed my plan to bring in two new people out of hand.

“I got the impression that if it wasn’t his idea he wasn’t interested.”

Adams returned to Headingley the following week for further meetings, including one with the players in the indoor school.

“I think they left feeling positive,” he says, before adding that “the same could not be said for me”.

Adams went on: “I think I slept about 30 minutes that night.

“I knew at the outset there would be some serious battles to be fought but now I was having some serious doubts about fulfilling all the roles I would be taking on – batsman, captain and manager.

“What about my relationship with Regan and did I really feel, having met the players, that they could be my team?

“The doubts were crashing in. By 5am I was wide awake and feeling physically sick. All I wanted to do was be back with (wife) Sam and the kids and, by 9.30am, I was.

“As soon as I walked through the door, Sam knew I couldn’t go through with it.”

Adams returned to Sussex CCC, who welcomed him back with open arms, before making the dreaded phone call to Regan.

“We spoke for no more than a couple of minutes and I hardly allowed him to get in a word edgeways.

“I explained that my change of heart was the best decision for my family and me and that I wanted to finish my career in a Sussex shirt.

“He was stunned and asked if a face-to-face meeting with Colin Graves might salvage the deal.

“I told him I would happily talk to Graves on the phone. Regan knew my reasons and I was sure he could easily convey those to his chairman. That phone call never came.

“Fortunately, I had never signed a contract.”

After Adams’s about-turn, Boycott slammed his “lack of moral fibre” and Yorkshire turned to the so-called “dream team” of Darren Gough as captain and Martyn Moxon as director of cricket, a move from which their current success can be traced.

Everything turned out right in the end, but it was pretty tempestuous at the time.