Lord’s trip would be icing on top of title hat-trick

MARK ARTHUR has outlined Yorkshire’s targets for 2016.

Mark Arthur.

The county’s chief executive said the priority is a third successive Championship.

Yorkshire also want a Lord’s final in the 50-over Cup and a better showing in the Twenty20 Blast.

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Yorkshire reached the 50-over semi-finals this year but were second-bottom of their T20 group.

“The players have their sights very firmly set on achieving three Championships in a row, an improved performance in the T20 competition and going one step further and getting to a Lord’s final,” said Arthur.

“Our T20 performances have been disappointing since we reached the final in 2012, but with the recruitment of David Willey, and the emergence of some of the younger members of the squad, we expect to be more competitive.

“While we want to win any competition we take part in, the Championship will continue to be our priority.”

Reflecting on “a special year for Yorkshire cricket”, Arthur paid tribute to captain Andrew Gale and his talented team.

Gale’s men broke all records en route to 11 wins from 16 games and 286 points.

“It was no ordinary achievement,” said Arthur.

“During the course of the season, the squad had to deal with seven players being called up to represent England at any one time and the consequent chopping and changing of personnel.

“They also had to deal with the one-eyed decision by the ECB to extend Andrew Gale’s ban, plus Ryan Sidebottom’s early-season injury.

“When the lads won the first match of the season at Worcestershire, they were effectively without eight first-choice players, and 21 players were used during the course of the season.”

Arthur feels the relationship between players and coaches under-pinned the triumph.

He credits director of cricket Martyn Moxon and first-team coach Jason Gillespie for creating the right environment.

“The players would be first to admit that they have had considerable help and support from the coaching staff, led by Martyn and Jason,” said Arthur.

“They work phenomenally hard to ensure the players are as well prepared as they can be.

“No stone is left unturned, and they create a relaxed atmosphere which allows the players to express themselves.

“The players stuck to the processes throughout the season and never got ahead of themselves.”

It was not just Yorkshire men’s team who prospered in 2015.

Arthur also praised the performances of the Yorkshire women and representative sides.

“The Yorkshire women won the Championship, and the U-13 and U-15 girls won their respective national titles,” he said.

“The men’s over-50s won their County Championship, while our Academy won the Yorkshire League Cup and prestigious Black Sheep Trophy.

“Next year, the women will be looking to emulate the men by becoming back-to-back county champions, and the U-13s and U-15s will be looking to retain their titles.

“In addition, the U-17s will be striving to improve on their 2015 standing.”

Off the field, Arthur believes there have been many positive developments in 2015.

“With the support of members, stakeholders and our corporate partners, Test match ticket sales were up by 24 per cent on the previous year, and hospitality sales rose by six per cent,” he said.

“The ODI was a huge success, both commercially and operationally, all of which bodes well for post-2019 when our current staging agreement with the ECB comes to an end.

“Domestic ticket income from matches at Headingley increased by 58 per cent year on year, hospitality by 43 per cent, membership income by 15 per cent, while our online shop showed a two-year growth of 106 per cent.

“Such figures have undoubtedly been helped by our new floodlights and the continued growth of T20 cricket.”

Arthur said Yorkshire still have much to achieve – not least whittling down a debt of circa £20m.

He said that remains “the elephant in the room”, but stressed that Yorkshire have been working hard with their creditors to agree reductions in interest and also capital repayment holidays, with more details expected in March.

“As a club, we are very grateful to all our creditors who have made it possible for us to trade positively over the next few years until the exceptional year we are forecasting in 2019,” he said.

Yorkshire stage an Ashes Test in 2019, plus four World Cup games and a one-day international against Pakistan.