YORKSHIRE supremo Colin Graves has launched a scathing attack on the club’s players, branding their performances “a disgrace” in the wake of the team’s humiliating relegation from the County Championship.
The Yorkshire chairman said they had let down the club and the members and urged them to take “a long, hard look at themselves” after the team’s embarrassing descent into Division Two.
Yorkshire’s relegation was confirmed yesterday when Worcestershire gained the single point they needed from their match against Durham to condemn Yorkshire to the drop.
It represented a spectacular fall from grace one year after Yorkshire almost won the title – and Graves is in no doubt who is to blame.
“It’s down to the players who have been on the park – nobody else,” he said. “The performances have been a disgrace; they have been unacceptable. The players need to take a long, hard look at themselves as far as I’m concerned.
“We’ve given them everything they wanted – contracts, salaries, we’ve given them everything.
“So they can’t turn round and say Yorkshire’s done this or Yorkshire’s done that.
“In the past, they’ve blamed the Headingley pitch and said we can’t get a result pitch at Headingley. Well, we’ve had bloody result pitches this year, but we kept losing on them.
“Don’t blame the bloody pitch, it’s not the pitch. It’s the fact they can’t play on it, that’s the problem.”
Graves said a club of Yorkshire’s stature should not be in Division Two.
He added some of the players were not as good as they seem to think they are.
“Maybe we all got a bit carried away after last year and the expectation levels that were created,” he added. “We ended up finishing third in the league and thinking, ‘bloody hell, we’ve got some world-beaters here’.
“In reality, we’ve performed poorly.
“Yorkshire should not be in the Second Division, simple as that.
“But the fact is, we’ve batted badly, we’ve bowled badly, and we’ve let teams off the hook.
“We’ve dropped bloody catches left, right and centre.
“What frustrates me is that we’re rewarding our players with good contracts, long-term contracts, and some of them have just not performed. And these are players who are, or have been, on the verge of the England team supposedly.”
Graves went on: “On paper, we have got some good players. If you look at it, we’ve got eight or nine players who’ve played for England in one format or another. And yet, as a team, they’ve performed badly this year.
“And it’s some of the top players, some of the ones who have been in and around the England set-up, who have let us down the most.”
Yorkshire’s poor performances were not simply confined to the Championship.
The club also finished second-bottom of their CB40 group and fourth-bottom of the Twenty20 North Division, winning just 14 of 44 games in all competitions.
But despite such statistics, Graves stressed his support for Martyn Moxon, the county’s director of professional cricket. Moxon has come under fire from some supporters but Graves is backing the former Yorkshire and England batsman to turn things around.
“At the end of the day, you can coach the players and you can tell them what to do, but you can’t go out on the pitch and play the game for them,” he added.
“You can’t blame Martyn Moxon if one player keeps playing a stupid shot and getting out.
“You can’t blame Martyn Moxon if one bowler keeps bowling a load of trash and can’t bowl a decent length and line.
“That’s not Martyn Moxon; he’s not doing it.
“You can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
“To be honest, I feel sorry for Martyn because he’s put his faith in the team we’ve got, the squad we’ve got, and he’s backed them hook, line and sinker. And we’ve backed Martyn on his judgment, and I will continue to do that.
“At the end of the day, it’s down to the players – nobody else. They are the ones who haven’t performed.”
Relegation will hit Yorkshire hard in terms of prestige; less so in a financial sense.
The annual £1.8m handout from the England and Wales Cricket Board remains the same whichever division you are in.
“Relegation from Division One doesn’t really affect you financially,” said Graves, “because you get the same handout, although we may experience a slight drop in membership figures.
“The prize money is less in Division Two, of course, but most of that goes to the players anyway, so I couldn’t care less about the bloody prize money.”