All entries for Thursday 01 March 2007

March 01, 2007

The Winter of Discontent

The winter spanning 1978 to 1979 was one of the most fractious periods of UK political history. The Labour government’s attempts to implement a cap on pay rises to 5% were met with some resistance from the trade unions and there were widespread strikes in both the public and private sectors resulting near chaos among the public services. Those fateful few months of James Callaghan’s premiership became known as the Winter of Discontent after the opening line of Shakespeare’s Richard III. A general election was called in the spring and a new leader was elected in the Conservative Margaret Thatcher.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club have been having a ‘winter of discontent’ of their own. Towards the end of the 2006 season Yorkshire, then coach-less, received criticism from Anthony McGrath who was a senior player in the Yorkshire squad. It was a few weeks later that Stewart Regan, the club’s Chief Executive stated that he hoped McGrath would stay following some ‘constructive and helpful’ talks with the batting all rounder.

Michael Lumb, the middle order batsman, chose his moment shortly afterwards by choosing not to renew his contract at Yorkshire and announced a move to Hampshire.

Then some bright news appeared to be on the horizon. Chris Adams had announced that he was to leave Sussex, a team he had helped lead to the double of the County Championship and the C&G Trophy. He was due to sign for the club as player, captain and fulfil a role as coach. Adams’ departure was announced with some regret by Sussex on November 1st 2006.

The unsettled McGrath issue reared its ugly head yet again amidst the hype of the appointment of Adams and he announced his intentions to leave the club.

A most unexpected U-Turn from Chris Adams further added to Yorkshire’s woes. Two weeks after first announcing his move to Yorkshire, he claimed it was “too much too soon” and decided to honour the remainder of his contract with Surrey while having the opportunity to move into a managerial role when he felt the time was right.

The move sparked up criticism from fiery ex Yorkshire and England opening batsman turned commentator, Geoff Boycott who slammed Adams’ “lack of moral fibre.” Yorkshire were also left with more gaps to fill, in appointing Adams for his player-come-coach-come-manager role the incumbent director of cricket, David Byas, was practically forced to give up his position.

In amongst all this, McGrath grabbed headlines once again by starting litigation against the club in order to release him from his contract despite being offered the captaincy role in return for staying with the club. As if the county did not have enough on their plate trying to fill a middle order spot, find a suitable captain, appoint a coach and now a Director of Cricket not to mention their money worries that have forced them to move matches to Sheffield after an 11 year hiatus, they now had a legal battle on their hands too.

As with Callaghan’s winter of discontent, however, this one too resulted in a new leader. (This change in command though was probably more popular in Yorkshire than the one at the end of the 78/79 winter.) On the 28th February 2007, Yorkshire County Cricket Club announced the return of one of their favourite sons. Darren Gough was to make a move back to the club after spending three years at Essex and would take up a captaincy role to boot.

And so the future is beginning to look interesting for Yorkshire again. They have a new captain, someone who actually wants the job. Gough famously put his hand up for the role of England captain when no one else was willing while Nasser Hussain broke one of his fingers but the job was given to the unwilling Michael Atherton instead. The managerial situation is looking less bleak now too, the great former South African fast bowler Allan Donald has expressed an interest in the Director of Cricket position and the management are currently in the position of appointing a new coach.

There was once a time when the England Test side was almost indistinguishable from the Yorkshire County side which makes it all the more upsetting to see a team that was once great suffering terribly over the past few seasons (and that is coming from an avid Kent supporter!) Hopefully the upturn in fortunes over the past few weeks can bring about a happier dressing room and a more successful Yorkshire once again.

March 2007

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