Yorkshire are banking on hunger of star imports

YORKSHIRE chief executive Mark Arthur has insisted that the county champions have not broken the bank by signing four of the world’s top players as he revealed the club have spent no more on overseas cricketers than they did last year.

Aaron Finch at Headingley

Yorkshire have re-signed the two overseas players they had last summer, New Zealand batsman Kane Williamson and Australia batsman Aaron Finch, who gave them overseas coverage for most of the campaign.

But despite recruiting two more players this time in Pakistan batsman Younus Khan and Australia all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, giving Yorkshire complete overseas coverage for the coming season, Arthur said the club had spent within their means as they battle debts of £20m-plus.

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“We’ve nowhere near broken the bank by signing the four players,” he said. “It’s not costing us a lot of money.

“To put it into context, we’re not spending any more money on our overseas players than we spent in 2014. We wouldn’t break the bank to do this.”

Yorkshire have assembled the strongest overseas contingent in county cricket as they seek to defend their County Championship title and to make headway in the NatWest T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup.

Arthur said Yorkshire were able to keep down the cost of overseas players – despite doubling their number – because those players are keen to play for the club.

“We have a fixed budget for overseas players and those players earn an awful lot of money playing elsewhere in the world,” he said. “They’re not coming here for the money, they’re coming here to play cricket for Yorkshire. We don’t get into a bidding war with anybody.

“The initial reaction from a player when we make contact with them is very important. Are they keen to come and play cricket, or are they keen to earn as much money as they can? We’re only interested in the people who are keen to come and play cricket for Yorkshire.”

This year’s quartet are certainly keen.

Williamson is returning for a third spell after a six-week stint in 2013, followed by a prolonged stay at Headingley last summer.

The 24-year-old will feature in the final three Championship games after the end of New Zealand’s tour to South Africa in late August.

Finch, 28, is back for a second stint and will arrive after the Indian Premier League in May, staying until late August when both he and Maxwell, 26, will join Australia’s limited-overs squads for the games against England.

Younus, 37, is also back for a second stint after representing the club in 2007 and he will play from the start of the season until Finch and Maxwell arrive from the IPL. Now Yorkshire hope Maxwell will also become part of “the family”.

“Three of the four players we’ve signed for next season are known to us, and that’s very important,” said Arthur.

“They’re really good human beings as well as great international cricketers, and we know they fit into the environment that has been created by the captain and the coaches.

“In addition, Maxwell comes highly recommended through his former flat-mate, Aaron Finch, and we want to build positive relationships with these players.”

Arthur continued: “The players are coming here for the challenge, but they’re also coming here for the enjoyment.

“Aaron Finch really enjoyed himself last year, Kane Wiliamson enjoyed himself in 2013 and 2014, and it’s quite refreshing in this day and age when professional sportsmen want to play for the enjoyment of it and the challenge.

“They all believe in what we’re trying to achieve and it’s the coaches, led by Martyn Moxon and Jason Gillespie, who create that environment along with the captain, Andrew Gale.

“International cricketers set themselves high standards and are not going to want to come into a laissez-faire atmosphere, but they also want to enjoy themselves and that’s the environment, the work-hard, play-hard environment, that Dizzy (Gillespie), in particular, has created.”

The fact overseas players want to return to Yorkshire reflects well on the environment and the pulling power of a winning side. It also reflects the club’s ambition to continue winning and to create a dynasty of success.

“We’ve stated that we want to try to win a number of competitions over the next decade,” said Arthur. “You can only do that by having depth in your squad.”