Yorkshire CCC: Colin Graves keen to join new board at Headingley

COLIN GRAVES wants to be a voice for the Yorkshire members after revealing that he is ready to stand for the club’s new board.

The former Yorkshire supremo and ex-England and Wales Cricket Board chairman is hoping to be one of the two Yorkshire members invited to join the new look set-up.

After the racism crisis that rocked Yorkshire cricket, with the club spending £1.9m last year on various related costs, a year in which it recorded a post-tax loss of £795,000, a new 12-strong board is being created with the aim of providing greater diversity to take the club forward.

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Six non-executive directors are being proposed to the members for approval – former paralympic athlete Tanni Grey-Thompson; Lucy Amos, head of social media at The Walt Disney company; finance expert Leslie Ferrar; commercial director Nolan Hough; Yaseen Mohammed, chair of Park Avenue Bradford and a trustee of the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, and legal expert Kavita Singh.

Colin Graves. Picture: PA.

In addition, members can appoint two of their own representatives to a board that is headed by chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel and which includes acting chief executive Paul Hudson, interim managing director of cricket Darren Gough and existing director Trevor Strain.

Graves could be joined as a members’ representative by Stephen Mann, the former chair of the Yorkshire members’ committee, with an EGM likely to be called towards the end of July to ratify the two member appointments. Nominees for the non-executive positions will be presented at the annual meeting on May 28. Graves, who needs just 20 supporters to put himself forward, and whose family trusts are still owed circa £15m by the club, believes that a lifetime of experience in the game makes him an ideal candidate.

He told The Yorkshire Post: “The reason that I want to do it is that with my knowledge of cricket, running an international ground, my experience of cricket in England and Wales, I don’t think there’s anybody who’s got my experience in all those respects, so from that perspective I could add something to the board because a lot of them won’t have that sort of experience.

“Ever since I first went there (to Yorkshire) in 2002, I’ve always listened to the members, I’ve always supported the members giving their views, giving them platforms, and I’ve always said it’s a members’ club and it always should be a members’ club.

“That’s what I said when all this furore started last year that people have got to remember it is a members’ club.”

Graves, who has had no direct involvement in Yorkshire since leaving in 2015 to become ECB chairman, believes that the club is ready to move forward again after governance reforms secured the future of international cricket at Headingley. The club was temporarily banned from staging major matches due to the crisis and could still be hit by penalties from the England and Wales Cricket Board pending the outcome of an investigation.

The £1.9m costs associated with the racism affair include a settlement payment to former player Azeem Rafiq, plus settlements agreed with departed club staff, legal and PR costs, along with subsequent actions including a governance review.

Yorkshire expect to incur further expenditure as a result of the crisis throughout this year.

“The main thing they (Yorkshire) have done now is they’ve got international cricket back and what they’ve got to do now is make sure they can run the club properly, run the club profitably, and make sure they continue that work,” added Graves.

“There’s a massive job ahead. They’ve still got £15m worth of debt in there, so from that perspective, there’s a lot still to do.

“I think I can add a bit of experience with what I’ve done in the last 20 years, and if I get 20 members to put my name forward, and if I get selected as one of the two by the nominations committee, that would be great.

“But if somebody is more qualified than me, that’s fine. I’ll put my hand up and say you’ve chosen the right one. But I think, as it stands today, I’d be very surprised if they can find somebody who’s more qualified, who’s run international cricket, a county ground, a county club, all the experience I’ve gained in 20 years. I don’t think there’s many people out there in England and Wales who could surpass it.”

Graves’s nomination is being supported by Robin Smith, the former Yorkshire chairman, who has made no secret of his opposition to what has taken place at Yorkshire recently.

Smith has written to members urging them to back Graves and is one of several individuals who have asked him to stand, with Smith telling members that Graves is “much needed in the aftermath of the recent crisis”.

Inevitably, critics will perceive it as the ‘old guard’ refusing to stand aside but Graves said: “I’m doing this as a Yorkshire member who has put my head above the parapet. The club has set the rules, and if I get 20 members to support me, to put my name forward to the nominations committee, then I’m prepared to do it and I want to do it.

“I’m not going through the back door, I’m not breaking any rules. I’m playing to the new rules that have been set by the club.

“What we’ve got to do is make sure the right people are in there on the board to take the club forward and finish off all the work that’s been done in the last 20 years.”