David Parkin wonders about batting for the other side

I’VE always wanted to be a fount of all knowledge.

A message arrived from a reader following last week’s blog.

“Surprised you had nothing to say about YCCC. As a member I need to decide how to cast my vote and your guidance would have helped.”

How flattering.

Particularly given the individual in question is a leading light in the Yorkshire business community and involved in international business deals.

To be honest, I’m no expert on the situation or subject of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

But when has a lack of knowledge or understanding ever stopped me from having my say on anything before?

To give a summary of the current situation, members of Yorkshire County Cricket Club are currently being asked to vote on a financial rescue of the club by Colin Graves, a wealthy Yorkshire businessman, founder of retail chain Costcutter who was executive chairman of the club from 2012 to 2015.

That was a period when players, coaches and staff at YCCC were accused of racism by former player Azeem Rafique.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club is the biggest and best supported cricket club in the land.

It has been described as the Manchester United of county cricket but given United’s current travails, that analogy has less resonance these days.

The fact it is still wrestling with the fallout of the Rafique racism scandal says a great deal about how poorly it has been run in recent years.

From not taking Rafique’s claims seriously in the first place and instead deciding to brand him as a “wrong ‘un”, to former chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel deciding to dismiss a large number of employees and contractors at Yorkshire which the club later admitted was “procedurally unfair” and cost the club millions in legal fees and costs.

I know many supporters of YCCC shared senior figures at the club’s view of Rafique as being a bad apple looking to damage the club.

But as soon as his claims of racism were made public, that’s when the club should have investigated them fully and settled the case with him and then made changes which would have ensured the same thing could never happen again.

Instead, it compiled a dossier of evidence about his poor behaviour and attempted to shut him up.

You don’t have to be a cricket fan to see the evidence of how that approach didn’t work.

The racism scandal at Yorkshire suddenly leapt from the sports pages of the newspapers to the front pages and to the top of the TV bulletins.

I said at the time that there were no winners in all of this.

And the biggest loser in all of it was YCCC, which temporarily lost its right to host England test matches, had to pay big fines to the ECB and spiralled further into debt.

Most of the millions it owes are to former chairman Colin Graves, an ex-chairman of the ECB, who now wants to return to run the club.

Members are now being asked to approve Graves’ return.

Given the club says it has spoken to more than 350 interested parties and now only has one left, says much about its financial plight and Colin Graves’ passion for Yorkshire.

Yes, it could be argued that Graves’ interest in returning to Yorkshire is focused on protecting the money he has loaned it, but I don’t think anyone could argue that he loves the club and wants to secure its future.

The alternative option to his deal, until recently, we are told, was a bid from Sports Direct and Frasers Group owner Mike Ashley.

It was never suggested before that the former Newcastle United owner was a fan of cricket so his deal would surely have been a property play focused on Yorkshire’s Headingley Stadium.

When has Mike Ashley ever put money into anything without expecting, and delivering, a sizeable return?

So Yorkshire County Cricket Club finds itself in the last chance saloon.

Colin Graves was at the helm of the club during a period when it has admitted failing to tackle the use of racist and discriminatory language by staff.

But he has never been accused of racism or wrongdoing during his time at YCCC or at the ECB.

Last summer, Graves was criticised by the ECB for describing discriminatory language as dressing room “banter”, “unacceptable” though he said it was.

It was an ill-judged comment which I’m sure he now regrets.

But who, honestly, can say that they haven’t, in the past, been in a sports dressing room, a pub or even an office environment when “banter” was exchanged which today would, rightly, be deemed as totally unacceptable?

We must hope that YCCC has learned from the mistakes of the past.

It must now focus its energies on becoming financially stable and well run again.

Should that be under a regime headed by Colin Graves?

Well, it strikes me that for Yorkshire, that is the only game in town.

As white knights go, his reputation might have been slightly tarnished by the media, but Colin Graves has Yorkshire’s best interests at heart.

And if he does end up getting some, or all, of the many millions he has poured into the club back, then that will hopefully be a sign that the club has returned to good fortune.

I don’t know Colin Graves personally but I’ve met him a few times.

I interviewed him when I was a business journalist and, indeed, presented him with an award as “Yorkshire Ambassador” when I was at TheBusinessDesk.com.

Nothing that has happened since has ever given me cause to think that we made a mistake in giving him that award.

I briefly spoke to Graves when I was a guest at a YCCC match at Scarborough last summer.

He was sitting on a table with Sir Geoffrey Boycott and insurance tycoon Phillip Hodson.

Hodson, a former first class cricketer and president of the MCC, is a Yorkshireman with deep pockets and international profile who has been linked with Graves’ return to YCCC.

It is a sign that Colin Graves is looking to galvanise support for his plans.

He knows he can’t do it on his own and he’s going to need strong support and a little bit of luck too.

Perhaps he should start by investing in getting the club’s chief executive Stephen Vaughan, some media training.

I saw Vaughan on Look North recently and he wasn’t very convincing in answering some pretty straightforward questions.

So good luck Colin Graves – and I am available for a media training assignment whenever you need it.


LAST week’s blog was a bit of a step into the unknown.

I have moved my blog to a new platform called Substack.

It is both easier to use and offers the option of enabling readers to make a financial donation to support my writing efforts.

For those of you reading this on Linkedin, here is a link to my substack page https://davidparkin.substack.com/

The fact I’m writing this today shows that paid subscriptions have so far failed to reach the point where I’ll up sticks and head on holiday to Barbados.

But I’m working on it.

In the meantime thank you to those of you who have made a donation.

It has prompted me to make plans to thank you all personally.

And so later this year I will host an event for all paid subscribers.

It will be very exclusive – hopefully not because there will be so few people there.

I look forward to us meeting up soon.

Have a great weekend.

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