Boycott joy at president nomination
Boycott is the unanimous choice of the Yorkshire board to succeed Ray Illingworth as president for a two-year term beginning next spring.
The legendary former Yorkshire and England opening batsman, 71, said it would cap a remarkable association with the sport if he was accorded the highest honour with the county club.
Yorkshire’s members will shortly vote on Boycott’s nomination, which is set to be ratified at the club’s annual meeting in March.
Speaking from his home in South Africa, Boycott, who is a Yorkshire board member and remains a highly-respected media figure, said he was honoured to have been nominated by chairman Colin Graves and the Yorkshire hierarchy.
“I am absolutely delighted to be nominated as president,” he said.
“Yorkshire has always been a members’ club and the members have always shown me tremendous support and affection in the past, which I have always appreciated.
“Should the members elect me as president, I can assure everyone that my media work on TV and radio will not get in the way.
“They never have done while I’ve been on the board – I’ve attended many meetings and functions and spoken many times for our club,” he said.
Boycott, the third-highest scorer in Yorkshire’s history with 32,570 first-class runs at 57.85, has served the club in a variety of roles.
The Yorkshire board believe the presidency would be fitting reward for all his endeavours.
“I’ve been associated with Yorkshire for around 50 years,” added Boycott. “Firstly, from 1962 to 1986 as a first-team player – and, even while I was a player, I paid to be a member from 1973 until I was made an honorary life member in the 1990s.
“Then I served eight years on the committee and now the last six years on the board.
“To be elected as president would be the icing on the cake.”
It will surprise no one with a fleeting knowledge of Yorkshire’s cricketing history that Boycott’s nomination has not led to the universal popping of champagne corks.
He remains the most charismatic and compelling of figures, and a minority of Yorkshire members and ex-Yorkshire players – Bob Appleyard and Richard Hutton among them – do not want him to become president amid grievances that date back to when Boycott was a player.
They blame him for the internal struggles that split Yorkshire cricket in the Seventies and Eighties and have been campaigning for several months behind the scenes in an effort to stop him gaining office.
But Graves is rock-solid behind his man and has called on Boycott’s critics to let bygones be bygones, frustrated at what he perceives to be the perpetuation of age-old quarrels.
To their credit, neither Boycott nor his opponents have shown any appetite for a public slanging match, which would hardly be in Yorkshire’s best interests at a time when they have enough on their plate with multi-million pound debts and a team languishing in the County Championship Second Division.
But as revealed in yesterday’s Yorkshire Post, there has been a direct challenge to Boycott in the form of an alternative candidate put forward for the presidency.
Long-standing Yorkshire members Adam Brown and Pete Allerton have proposed that former international umpire Dickie Bird be considered for the role in a move eagerly latched on to by Boycott’s opponents.
However, Brown and Allerton have acted independently of Bird, while the club’s constitution does not permit for another candidate in any case.
At present, the club nominate only one individual whom the members then decide whether to support; Yorkshire are not obliged under club rules to put Bird’s name forward in direct competition.
Brown last night said he and Allerton had championed Bird because they feel Yorkshire’s members deserve a greater say in such matters as the presidency.
“We put in the nomination because we’re tired of going to AGMs just before the new cricket season with everything set up as a fait accompli,” he said.
“This is nothing personal against Geoffrey Boycott or anybody else; we would just like to see people have a free vote between different candidates.”
Graves has revealed Yorkshire plan to make Bird president once Boycott’s term has expired in 2014, while Bird last night stressed he had absolutely no desire to get involved in a battle with Boycott or anyone else.
“I’m flattered and honoured if people have put my name forward for the presidency; it’s very kind of them and I’m grateful for their support,” he said.
“However, I have no wish to stand in Geoffrey’s way or to go against the wishes of the county club. If Yorkshire were to appoint me as president after Geoffrey then that would be a fantastic honour – the greatest of my life.
“It would be the fulfilment of a lifetime ambition to become Yorkshire president at some point in the future, but, at the end of the day, that would be up to the board and the Yorkshire members.”