Darren Gough aiming to rebuild culture at Yorkshire CCC – and he could be bringing back Anthony McGrath

Darren Gough plans to rebuild a culture in his new role as Yorkshire’s interim managing director of cricket.

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England captain Joe Root backs Darren Gough to lead Yorkshire CCC forward

Former England paceman Gough is initially in post until the end of the 2022 season.

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Gough’s appointment comes at a time of huge turbulence for the county when their handling of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations of racism and harassment were widely criticised.

Darren Gough, saluting the Yorkshire fans in 2008, is back at Yorkshire CCC (Picture: PA)

The crisis that engulfed the county led to chairman Roger Hutton and chief executive Mark Arthur standing down and, on Friday, 16 members of the coaching and medical staff were dismissed, including first-team coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon.

“We have to face these issues head-on and make positive actions, that’s going to be the biggest thing,” said Gough, who has left his position as TalkSport presenter.

“We are going to be watched by the sporting world, not just in this country but around the world.

“We have to make a difference and take everyone at Yorkshire on a journey, engage them and listen to them.

He's back: Darren Gough, left, salks to Stuart Broad during his spell with the England coaching staff. Picture: Getty Images.

“I know it’s such a big job because of that. We do need to rebuild a culture and make Yorkshire County Cricket Club a better and more inclusive place.

“It’s quite obvious that’s what I see as a vision for the club.”

Gough had two playing spells with the White Rose, between 1989 and 2003 and 2007 and 2008. He captained them in his second, when he gave Rafiq his Yorkshire debut.

The 51-year-old says he has spoken to Rafiq in the past about “mental health and what it (Yorkshire’s treatment of him) did to him as an individual”, but not since his return to the club was confirmed.

Anthony McGrath retired from playing for Yorkshire Cricket in 2018 and has made a real name for himself coaching Essex (Picture: Steve Riding)

Gough said: “I’ve not spoken to Azeem since I’ve taken over, but I’m sure he will want to chat with me at some point.

“I spoke to a couple of guys who sadly lost their jobs on Friday because that was not an easy situation for anybody.

“One of my roles will be to meet people and make a difference in the pathway and getting people to access coaching for free.

“We talk about the lack of south Asians coming through from the pathway into the professional game.

Yorkshire legend Darren Gough arrives back at Headingley, Leeds, in February 2007

“That’s where we’ve got to start and make sure we get it right, to take us in a different direction where we’ve been at.

“But I honestly believe that there will be counties out there in 10 years from now who will follow what Yorkshire have done.

“I hope I can make a difference and communication is going to be the biggest thing. I’ve been out of a dressing room for 14 years and that has helped me move to the next level.”

Yorkshire chairman Lord Patel welcomed Gough to his new role on Monday, saying his “infectious enthusiasm” and “will to win” will help the club build a “brighter future”.

One of Gough’s most pressing priorities will be appointing an entirely new coaching staff. There has already been speculation Anthony McGrath could join from Gough’s other former team, Essex, to head it.

Ajmal Shahzad, the first Yorkshire-born player of Asian extraction to play for the county, has also been linked with a role.

It was Gough who persuaded ex-captain McGrath against leaving Yorkshire in 2007. The batsman was adamant he would until reversing the decision two days after Gough returned as captain.

Bradfordian McGrath joined Essex as assistant to Chris Silverwood in 2016, replacing the now-England coach 18 months later. Essex became the first team to win the double of County Championship and Twenty20 Cup in McGrath’s second season, and followed it with last year’s Bob Willis Trophy.

Huddersfield-born Shahzad, who made his Yorkshire debut in a one-day game against Worcestershire in 2004 and later played for Lancashire, Nottinghamshire, Sussex, Leicestershire and England, is now coaching at Derbyshire and has been linked as a possible assistant coach.

Gough could also have to reshape Yorkshire’s playing squad with reports a number of players are threatening to quit after the departures of Moxon, first-team coach Gale and others, the huge financial damage from the loss of sponsors and potentially next summer’s international cricket at Headingley, and the presence of Gary Ballance – one of those Rafiq alleged racially abused him.

Gough at least has goodwill on his side as an England and Yorkshire great, and the backing of England captain Joe Root, who is preparing for the Ashes series which begins tonight.

“He’s a good man and I’m sure he’ll be looking to put his stamp on things at the club,” said Root. “From my experience of spending time with Goughie he’s obviously very passionate and knowledgeable about the game. His love for it is clear for everyone to see.”

Gough said: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club has been part of my life since my earliest days in cricket when I made my debut in 1989, and I spent 15 happy years at the club,” said Gough.

“Like many, I have followed how the club handled the recent racism allegations with sadness and anger.

“I want to play my part in rebuilding cricket in Yorkshire and I am looking forward andI am certain that we can make Headingley roar again.”