Yorkshire CCC stars top of the class through the ages - Chris Waters

SINCE 2007, Wisden has picked a Schools Cricketer of the Year, starting with Jonny Bairstow (St Peter’s, York).

Double honours: Norman Yardley. Picture: Getty Images

In 2013, another current Yorkshire player, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, won it for his efforts for Malvern College.

Other notable winners include Jos Buttler (2009 – King’s College, Taunton) and James Taylor (2008 – Shrewsbury School).

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As there was no schools cricket last summer, the wise men of Wisden had an idea. Why not trawl back through each edition since 1900 and select a winner retrospectively?

The result – in the latest edition, published this month – brings recognition for some Yorkshire players of the past, along with many of the sport’s most celebrated names.

Five Yorkshire cricketers make the backdated cut – most notably Norman Yardley, a former England captain, who led opposite Don Bradman in the ’48 Ashes.

Yardley, who captained England in 14 of his 20 Tests, played 302 first-class games for Yorkshire, scoring 11,632 runs at 31.95 and taking 195 wickets at 29.83. He captained the club from 1948-1955 and served as president from 1981-83. He died in 1989, aged 74.

Yardley has been named Wisden’s Schools Cricketer of the Year for 1933 and 1934, with the award based on the averages in each year’s almanack. Like Bairstow, he did so while playing for St Peter’s, York, with Yardley one of nine players to have won the award twice along with such as Sir Alastair Cook (Bedford – 2002/03) and Colin Cowdrey (Tonbridge – 1949/50).

Another Yorkshireman honoured is Phil Sharpe, part of the all-conquering county team of the 1960s. Sharpe hit five hundreds and two doubles for Worksop College in 1955 and went on to win 12 Test caps.

As much as for his batting (he scored 17,685 runs in 411 first-class matches for Yorkshire at 29.72), Sharpe is recalled for his magnificent slip fielding. He died in 2014, aged 77.

Colin Johnson, aged 73, is another recognised – a batsman who played 100 first-class games for Yorkshire between 1969 and 1979 (2,960 runs at 21.14). In 1966, Johnson shone in the colours of Pocklington School, averaging over 100.

In addition, Peter Ingham, 64, played eight first-class games for Yorkshire between 1979 and 1981, as well as 12 one-day matches. In 1974, representing Ashville College, Harrogate, he, too, averaged well over 100 with the bat as well as just 10 with the ball.

Finally, in 1996, Richard Wilkinson shone for Worksop College, averaging over 80 with the bat and under 15 with the ball. A former Yorkshire Academy captain, Wilkinson, 43, made a solitary first-class appearance for the club in 1998.

As well as the retrospectively honoured Yorkshire quintet, there are two winners from Leeds Grammar School: RW Elviss in 1964 and Iain Sutcliffe in 1993.

Although born in Leeds, Sutcliffe made his name at Leicestershire and Lancashire, amassing more than 9,000 first-class runs with 16 hundreds.

The 46-year-old’s annus mirabilis for Leeds Grammar School is particularly notable, for his tally of 1,623 runs (average 101.43) is the all-time record for schools’ cricket in the UK (as recorded by Wisden).

In total, the retrospective winners include 28 Test players – 25 of whom played for England, including nine as captain. Although Sir Ian Botham did not win the award, his son, Liam, has now done so (1994 – Rossall School).

All in all, an imaginative exercise, with the annual schools accolade designed to raise the profile of schools cricket in general.

“The only criteria for a school’s inclusion,” says Wisden, “are that it must not be age-restricted, and must have a sixth form and a fixture list of an acceptable standard.

“There are notable exceptions, but the majority of schools featured are from the independent sector, reflecting the paucity of cricket in state schools and colleges, a trend Wisden is keen to help reverse.”

Wisden 2021 is available from www.wisdenalmanack.com/2021