Traditionalist Arthur is ticking right boxes at Headingley

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WHEN Mark Arthur was in the running to become Yorkshire’s chief executive he decided to buy a particular book.

The Sweetest Rose: 150 Years of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, by my friend and press box colleague David Warner, does exactly what it says on the tin – it traces the history of the club from its birth in January, 1863 to the present day.

“I bought David Warner’s book and tried to learn as much as I could about the history of the club,” said Arthur.

“I took it out to India on holiday with me when I knew I was going to be invited for an interview for the job at Headingley and by reading the book you get a feel for the history and tradition and all the incredible characters that have been part of Yorkshire cricket.”

Of all the pronouncements Arthur has made since starting 
in his job last Tuesday – his desire to make Headingley “one of 
the top four grounds in the country”, his plan to help reduce the club’s £20m debt, his ambition to make everyone feel part of Yorkshire cricket – it is among the more ostensibly unremarkable.

And yet it revealed something significant about the man himself.

For it showed that Arthur places great stock by the club’s history and tradition.

And that proves he is in tune with the club’s members and supporters.

For nowhere, it has always seemed to me, is history and tradition more important than in Yorkshire.

When I came up from Nottingham to join the Yorkshire Post in 2004, the same journey north that Arthur himself has taken after almost two decades working at Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and Nottingham Forest Football Club, I was immediately taken by the pride that the club has in its eminent history.

If you do not know your Lord Hawke from your Lord Lucan in these parts then you are immediately on a hiding to nothing.

No county has a greater history and tradition than Yorkshire.

That Arthur has bought Warner’s book is testimony to the importance he puts in that history and tradition.

He is a man who recognises its value and worth.

Arthur, in fact, is a cricketing traditionalist.

That will also endear him to Yorkshire’s followers.

When I first interviewed him last week, Arthur told me that he favours County Championship and Test cricket.

Tick.

He told me that the Championship is the competition he most wants to win.

Tick.

He told me that although he thinks one-day cricket is vital for generating more money and interest in the game, it is essentially a bit of fun and enjoyment.

Tick.

This is a man who is singing off the right hymn sheet.

Of course, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

Arthur will be judged not on whether he knows his Lord Hawke from his Lord Lucan as on the success he achieves in helping to improve Yorkshire’s income streams and Headingley’s future as an international cricket ground.

He will be judged in terms of how well he raises the profile of Yorkshire cricket.

Plenty of hard work clearly lies ahead.

First impressions, however, are certainly encouraging, and I myself was impressed that he had bothered to buy David’s book.

All that remains now is for me to try to persuade him to buy a certain biography of Fred Trueman.

“I’m not an avid reader, I’m afraid,” he laughed.

“Reading David’s book was a labour of love, but I’m what they call an executive summary man – I do a lot of my communication face-to-face, and I don’t sit around reading an awful lot.”

Oh well, it was worth a try...