What is your first Yorkshire memory? Cricket has always been in the family. Dad played a good standard of league cricket in the Castleford area for Glasshoughton and Townville, so I grew up playing cricket with my brother. I suppose I’d be four or five and Nick used to get me to bowl at him all day with a tennis ball behind the score box at Townville. It was my mum who taught me how to hold the bat and how to bat and bowl because Dad was always playing.
What is your favourite part of Yorkshire and why? I have to say the Dales. They are so big and varied and in striking distance of Leeds and Bradford. We go walking quite a bit and tend to go to Bolton Abbey, the Strid and Kettlewell. You can walk on one side of the river, there’s a good cafe and we like Bolton Abbey in the spring.
Do you have a favourite walk or view? I reckon you can’t beat the views over Huddersfield. You have lovely views from Castle Hill and also across the valley to Hopton. I like cycling in the area and it helps me stay reasonably fit in time for the cricket season.
Which Yorkshire sportsman or sportswoman, past or present, would you like to take out for lunch? I’m going to say Fred Trueman. He’s the epitome of a Yorkshire fast bowler. I’m of a similar build and have a big backside. I never met Fred. I stood in the same room as him a couple of times but I was scared to go up and have a chat. You hear all these stories about Fred’s pace and ferocity, and if half the stories are true, he sounds to me like he’s an absolute hero.
Which Yorkshire stage or screen star, past or present, would you like to take out for lunch? It would be either Patrick Stewart from Huddersfield or Sean Bean from Sheffield. Interestingly, there was something on Twitter recently asking who would play me. They were saying it should be Sean Bean, but he’s not far off 60 and I’m only 31! My favourite film is The Shawshank Redemption, starring Morgan Freeman, but I don’t suppose I can take him out because he’s not from Yorkshire.
If you had to name your hidden Yorkshire gem, what would it be? A place that’s talked about too often is Nostell Priory, near Wakefield. It wasn’t far from us when we were growing up in Pontefract. It’s good for the kids, we like the lake and there’s an adventure playground.
What do you think it is that gives Yorkshire its unique identity? Yorkshire has to be the best county in the country because of its diversity. You’ve got the Dales National Park which attracts visitors from all over the world. Tourism here is getting much, much bigger and there are so many places to choose from in Yorkshire where you can go on holiday. Then, you’ve got the coast. Yorkshire play cricket at Scarborough and our kids love it there, but we also enjoy going to Whitby and Sandsend. Another spot we love is Helmsley because my wife spent time there. So the more people know about Yorkshire the better.
Do you have a favourite restaurant or pub? I’m a bit of a foodie. Leeds is such a good scene for eating and drinking. At Headingley, we are only 20 minutes away and you can pop in and get whatever you want. The Man Behind the Curtain in Leeds is a place I want to go to, but you can’t get in. I like the Box Tree in Ilkley and The Star at Harome. We like the Gray Ox at Hartshead, near Huddersfield. The food’s home cooked and produced locally. I like the steak and lamb they do.
Do you follow other sports in Yorkshire and, if so, what? I think cricket and rugby league give Yorkshire an identity. I follow Castleford Tigers and always have done. But it’s tough to get there now because rugby league is played in the summer. All of Castleford get behind the team and there’s a good social atmosphere at the ground. I take some interest in football but not as much as I should do. Yorkshire’s new coach, Andrew Gale, is a big Huddersfield Town fan and I go with him sometimes, but I much prefer rugby league because it’s much more exciting.
Who is the Yorkshire person you admire the most? My granddad Geoff Hughes was an immense influence. He took me pretty much to every county game through the age groups and to each Yorkshire Seconds game before I learnt to drive. He was a massive part of my development as a cricketer. My coaches at Castleford and Townville, John Pearson, Mick Bourke and Ken Kingsbury, were also an inspiration.
Do you think Yorkshire has changed for the better or worse since you have known it? For the better. You only have to look at Leeds which has turned, if you like, into the capital of Yorkshire. It’s an important centre in the North with great nightlife and excellent shopping.