Arthur slams ECB at league dinner

Halifax Cricket League dinner officials, speakers and sponsors
Halifax Cricket League dinner officials, speakers and sponsors

Yorkshire County Cricket Club chief executive Mark Arthur bowled a few bouncers in the direction of the ECB at Friday’s Foster’s Halifax Cricket League dinner at The Venue, Barkisland.

Arthur, who attended with the Headingley club’s opening batsman Alex Lees, slammed the game’s rulers for not consulting the counties prior to last week’s announcement that the toss of a coin will no longer be mandatory in County Championship games in 2016.

Skipper Andrew Gale had already described the decision to give the visiting captain the option to bowl first as “absolute madness” and ex-Yorkshire and England captain Michael Vaughan said the ECB should simply employ its own groundsmen if it wanted to improve pitches to help the development of English spinners.

Arthur revealed that Yorkshire, who have won back-to-back county titles, had been told of the rule change just a few hours before it was announced.

“We are the top county, with seven players representing our country, and they did not bother to ask us at all. Is this the way ahead?” he said.

Arthur said Yorkshire had the task of rebuilding the confidence of players discarded by England and he criticised the decision not to pick Liam Plunkett for the next stage of this winter’s action.

Plunkett has plenty of pace for what are expected to be hard, fast wickets in South Africa and has been in good form against Pakistan in Twenty/20 action recently.

Arthur said: “Not taking Liam Plunkett to South Africa beggars belief. It makes you wonder about the thought processes going through the selectors’ minds.”

The chief executive also said it was “a sad indictment on the ECB” that Joe Root hadn’t been allowed to play in one county championship match for the white rose county last season.

That meant Halifax’s Lees had two county champion winner’s medals at the age of 22 while Root, two years older, had only one.

Arthur said he was confident that Yorkshire’s “production line” under Martyn Moxon and the other coaches would continue to develop good players and Lees said that Yorkshire were already working hard on their fitness for next season ahead of their bid for a hat-trick of titles.

The Lees family was well represented at the dinner and Alex handed over the Simon Lees Memorial Trophy, which remembers his father, a keen local player for many years.

It went to Sowerby Bridge CC’s Andrew Mellor, a key figure at the Walton Street club for 40 years.

Mellor recalled playing against Simon Lees from an early age and touchingly dedicated his award to fellow wicketkeeper Steve Priestley, the Copley player who died aged 50 recently.

Other winners revealed on the night were Copley’s Mark Baldwin, who won the Sportsman of the Year trophy decided by the umpires.

Middle-section runners-up Northowram Hedge Top took the team award, based on match marks.

The History and Heritage Shield award went to Greetland and Mytholmroyd for 100 continuous years of Halifax League cricket.

The entertainment was provided by Halifax pair Pete Emmett and Lea Roberts as master of ceremonies and comedian respectively.