Wake-up call must produce positive response at Yorkshire CCC

YORKSHIRE's misfiring stars will be given another chance next summer.

In charge: Andrew Gale has the backing of chief executive Mark Arthur. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Chief executive Mark Arthur says there will be no football-style reaction to the club’s brush with County Championship relegation.

Arthur has given his full support to the coaching staff and insists that the current players are good enough to put things right.

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His comments come after the 2014-2015 champions, who nearly won a hat-trick of titles last year, escaped relegation by the skin of their teeth, finishing three points clear of relegation.

“We don’t want to bring a football mentality into cricket and into Yorkshire cricket,” said Arthur, the former Nottingham Forest Football Club chief executive.

“There’s no question of us not supporting the coaching staff, who are absolutely the right men for the job, while the talent is there among the existing group of players, so it’s not a question of making changes in that respect.

“We’ve had a wake-up call this year, flirting with relegation, and none of us wants to go through that again.

“The season didn’t go as we’d hoped, but we’ve got a long-term vision at Yorkshire and we intend to pull together.”

Continuity has been a theme running through Yorkshire cricket in recent times, underpinning a predominantly successful era.

In the wake of this year’s performance, some supporters have questioned whether the club were right to maintain that policy by appointing former captain Andrew Gale as first-team coach last November, with Gale having had a difficult first year.

However, many Yorkshire fans are firmly behind Gale and recognise the challenges that he faces, most notably trying to get more from a batting department that was under-performing long before he took charge.

After Yorkshire were dismissed for 74 in their final match of the season against Essex at Chelmsford, their lowest first-class total for 18 years, Gale candidly insisted that senior players must take responsibility – a view echoed by Arthur and the board.

“We took a decision this time last year, having spoken to several individuals and advertised the position, that Andrew Gale and (fellow coach) Richard Pyrah were the right people going forward for the long-term,” said Arthur.

“One of the reasons for appointing Andrew was that he was the leader in the dressing room for seven years as captain, and he knows those players inside out.

“It’s easy to blame coaches, but it’s players who take all the plaudits when you win something, and, I believe, it’s players who should take responsibility when things don’t go well.

“The fact is, the players are really well-prepared for every match and the practice has been exceptional, but the application on the match-day hasn’t always been good enough.”

Player appraisals are now taking place at Headingley, with individuals being reminded of their responsibilities.

“Martyn (Moxon, director of cricket) and Andrew want to see a bit more fight from the players,” said Arthur. “They want to see them digging in and not surrendering their wickets quite so cheaply.

“We’ve got to get more out of the current players. We’ve got to refocus them. As Martyn has said, the ability is there. It’s down to the mindset. How much do they want it? Are some of them content with their position in life? That’s what we’ve got to find out.”

After great success in recent times, Arthur admits that a hint of complacency may have crept in. It is a common pitfall for successful sides, and the CEO reflected: “I think an element of complacency has been seeping into our red-ball cricket; I don’t think you’d find anybody at the club who wouldn’t say that.

“It’s not that people set out to be complacent, it’s just one of those things that can happen from time to time.

“We’ve got to find a way of improving individual mindsets and making players hungrier, and that will be determined by talking privately one-to-one with each player. We want to back our current group of players and try to get more out of them, and they’ve got to get more out of themselves as well, so it’s a two-way thing.”

Yorkshire want to sign an overseas player for next season who can bat in the top three, but they do not envisage further additions or venturing down the Kolpak route.

“That’s not something we want to do,” said Arthur. “Also, any top-quality batsman who is thinking of moving county, for instance, would look at our line-up and say there’s no obvious place for them to get in because we do have quality options, regardless of the challenges that we’ve had this year.”