Champions - Structure in place for Yorkshire to create modern-day legacy

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MARK ARTHUR believes the current Yorkshire side will eventually be bracketed with the great Yorkshire team of the 1960s.

The county’s chief executive predicted that Andrew Gale and his players will ultimately be thought of with similar esteem.

PRIME PRODUCTS: Yorkshire's Jack Brooks, Liam Plunkett, Jonny Bairstow, Andrew Gale, Jack Leaning and Tim Bresnan.

PRIME PRODUCTS: Yorkshire's Jack Brooks, Liam Plunkett, Jonny Bairstow, Andrew Gale, Jack Leaning and Tim Bresnan.

Yorkshire won seven County Championships in the 10 seasons from 1959 to 1968, plus the Gillette Cup in 1965 and 1969.

It was an era when the club boasted household names such as Fred Trueman, Brian Close, Raymond Illingworth and Geoffrey Boycott, all of whom achieved legendary status.

“This year is the first time that we’ve won back-to-back Championships since the great days of the 1960s,” said Arthur.

“There was a magnificent set of players playing for the club in that era, and I think that the current players can be up there alongside them.

“For those of a certain age, we can name virtually all of the Yorkshire team in the 1960s.

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“It was one of the great teams in the history of sport – not just cricket – and many of those guys were household names.

“It’s a wonderful legacy, and a lot for the current players to live up to.

“However, that is exactly what those players are starting to do.

“When history gets written in a few years, I think this lot will probably also be bracketed with the greats of the 1960s.

“Every Yorkshire cricket lover can be extremely proud of what they’ve achieved.”

The key to becoming a great team is to be consistently successful over a sustained period.

It is a penny that has dropped with the current squad, who believe they can create their own lasting legacy.

Yorkshire are blessed by their illustrious history but they have also been choked by it, with the success of the 1960s, for example, overshadowing the many barren years that followed.

It has been the same at Nottingham Forest football club, where Arthur was previously chief executive, but whereas Forest continue to languish in the suffocating shadow of the Brian Clough era, Yorkshire appear to have embarked on another golden period.

“I think the foundations have been laid for continued success at Yorkshire,” said Arthur.

“While you can’t guarantee success because of the vagaries of sport, I do genuinely believe that the structure is in place and that the structure is right, and also that the players know how to win.

“Knowing how to win, as I’m sure Brian Clough or Sir Alex Ferguson would have said, is almost as important as having the ability to win.

“The Yorkshire players know exactly how to win.”

Yorkshire have won the Championship differently this year, a fact Arthur acknowledges.

The victories have come more from backs-to-the-wall positions at times, with different individuals stepping up, something that perhaps can be attributed to the regular drain on the club’s playing resources and the fact they have struggled to field a settled XI.

Yorkshire suffered England calls throughout the campaign, with no fewer than six players on the spring tour of the West Indies.

For Arthur, it makes the squad’s success all the more sweet.

“To win the Championship again with so many players missing to the England cause – especially at the beginning of the season – is remarkable,” he said.

“We also had Andrew Gale suspended at the start of the year, and then Ryan Sidebottom pulled up with a torn hamstring, so it’s been a brilliant effort by all concerned.

“We set the target to be in the top-three of the Championship because you never know what the vagaries of the weather, international calls and injuries might prove to be.

“But we’ve coped with it all superbly.

“It’s been a different achievement to 2014.

“Last year, the batters all batted well together and the bowlers did their bit, whereas this year we’ve had one or two players getting us out of a hole at times with the bat, while the bowlers have been absolutely incredible.

“I think the key thing is that we’ve had that group of bowlers together all season, whereas the batters have dipped in and out depending on England calls.

“All in all, it’s been harder this year.”

None of it would have been possible without the right foundations.

Yorkshire are fortunate in that they have good men in key positions – not least Arthur, who has done much to help the club engage more with the local community and helped to get the business itself on to a sounder footing. Typically, he diverts credit on to the players and coaches.

“I think a lot of the current success is down to the foundations that Martyn Moxon, our director of cricket, laid for the club a number of years ago,” he said.

“Martyn, along with former chairman Colin Graves, brought first team coach Jason Gillespie to the club to give it a different type of direction, a different ambience within the dressing room, and it’s all come together.

“I’ve been in-and-around sport for many years, but I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a set of professional sportsmen so together.

“Yorkshire has been blessed with a number of very good cricketers over the years, but we now have a blend of very good cricketers and also an environment that’s been created by Martyn and Jason that has resulted in producing back-to-back Championships.”

The question now is: can Yorkshire achieve a hat-trick of titles, something not done by any county since they themselves achieved it between 1966-1968.

“As I say, you can never guarantee success,” added Arthur.

“But what I will say is that backing up last year’s success this summer is probably more difficult than winning it for a third time.

“I remember Anthony McGrath saying that when Yorkshire won the County Championship in 2001, they were still celebrating it pre-season in March and they then ended up getting relegated.

“That was something everyone at the club was determined wasn’t going to happen after we won it last year.

“As soon we got the celebrations out of the way – Buckingham Palace, No.10 and all of that – the players and coaches began working on how they were going to achieve what they’ve just achieved.”