Yorkshire CCC must be allowed to move on from the paralysis that prevails - Chris Waters
Granted, that season is just six days old, wrapped up in nappies and still eating baby food, but after the first four days brought defeat to Leicestershire and now this, it has yet to start moving in the right direction.
Of more concern, however, is the off-field situation, both in terms of the club’s finances and the continuing effects of the racism scandal.
If the wheels are turning they are turning very slowly, with efforts to refinance the club complex, the search for a new chairperson ongoing and, it almost goes without saying, uncertainty regarding any sanctions arising from the scandal seemingly never ending.
It is a difficult position for Stephen Vaughan, the recently appointed Yorkshire chief executive, who remains confident that the club will emerge from a period in which it feels as if it is trying to move on but wading through treacle.
It’s as if Yorkshire are wearing a child’s harness and not able to move forward as freely as they want, still not out of a maze they are anxious to escape.
Until the finances are sorted, or at least stabilised, a new chairperson found and the sanctions situation determined one way or another, Yorkshire remain in this horrible labyrinth, this paralysed condition.
It’s like waiting for the rain to stop in Bristol with no sign of the covers coming off or the umpires emerging to carry out an inspection.
The biggest problem is simply the length of time it is taking and the knock-on effects.
It is just over two years and seven months since Yorkshire launched an investigation into allegations made by their former player, Azeem Rafiq, concerning racist treatment and institutional racism, allegations that produced two unsatisfactory investigations (Yorkshire’s and that of the England and Wales Cricket Board), a host of disputed conclusions and still no sanctions for those individuals found guilty/the club itself.
Such guilt is disputed in most cases, not least by those who would stand up for the club that was toppled/destroyed.
But if the rebuilt version has admitted culpability, which it did a long time ago now in respect of four charges, and regardless of whether one agrees with that or not, the question must be asked: why has a decision on sanctions not already been made, especially when the consensus seems to be that some sort of points penalties are likely that will clearly impact on the players and coaches – not to mention Yorkshire’s opponents and the wider game?
The wheels of justice grind slowly, as they say, or, depending on one’s view of this sorry farrago, the wheels of injustice.
If Yorkshire have not actually contested the charges (if anything, they have seemed anxious to make them stick), a decision should surely have been taken by now - or at least made public.
Now there is talk of the whole thing dragging on into the summer, a bit like the end-of-season play-offs in the Football League.
The human impact of this crisis is one thing, the effects well documented, but simply from a Yorkshire CCC point of view it is hugely damaging.
How can it be right that Ottis Gibson and Darren Gough, respectively the head coach and managing director of cricket, still don’t know - now into their second seasons in post - whether the club will face points penalties or not?
How can that be fair on the club generally, its staff and supporters?
Until full closure comes, or at least the sort that allows all parties to move on finally, Yorkshire will never break free from this maze.
They will still, to some extent or other, and regardless of the strides they are endeavouring to take, be tainted in some respect, making it tougher to attract new sponsors, partners and investors – not to mention retain members as well as find new ones amid the twin fallout of a racism crisis and a global pandemic.
Membership is down to just a few thousand (the exact figures are unclear); the crowds for that opening match against Leicestershire at Headingley were strikingly low - roughly 800 on day one, 1,300 on day two, 800 on day three and 500 on day four, a reflection not just of any disquiet that members might feel generally but also, it would seem, a general apathy.
It might be a small thing, but one was taken aback at how bland and insipid was Yorkshire’s recent annual general meeting, a gathering that should have been a hotbed of discussion and passionate debate – after all, has any club ever had more to talk about, even one as familiar with controversy?
Instead, it was like a meeting to determine whether tulips or daffodils should ring the outer perimeter of the local village hall, a gathering so stultifyingly dull that there was barely a line in it, as they say in this trade.
Either folk have been battered into submission by events of the last three years, and who could blame them, or else they no longer care anymore, a consequence, no doubt, of the paralysis that prevails.