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Q&A with Darren Gough

— 6 October 2022

Following the difficult end to the County Championship season for the Men’s First XI, our Managing Director of Cricket, Darren Gough, sat down with us to give his thoughts on what happened, and the future.

Reflecting on the squad’s reaction to relegation, Darren expanded on how the players are dealing with the disappointment, while revealing his hopes for the future and insight on plans for the team in the year ahead.

Darren, how are you feeling following relegation to Division Two?

It has been tough and will take time to recover. My stomach was stirring the whole weekend after and I felt sick. It is gut-wrenching because we have some talented young players.

The outpouring of comment from disappointed supporters shows the passion for cricket in this county and it is so important that we work hard to regain our division one status at the earliest possible opportunity.

A lot of things have gone against us in the year regarding selection and England call-ups. For now, I am remaining positive and working on how we make it right for next year.

From a performance perspective, what do you think was lacking in what some might call a season of two halves?

We have to be honest about our cricketing performances: we have struggled to bowl teams out to win games. You could say that the start of the season wasn’t bad – we won the first game and we were drawing games that we weren’t far away from winning. Over the season, we haven’t had that bite in the bowling attack to bowl teams out and there was a lack of experience in our batting. Those factors probably cost us in the end.

What do you think could have been done differently to prevent relegation?

We all know that when Yorkshire’s squad is at full strength, we have one of the best teams in the country, there are no arguments on that front. When you are as successful as we have been as a county over the years, you create these groups of England players. It’s something that’s happened going back to before my own playing days.

This year, England’s fixture list has been off the scale as it has been catching up following the effects of COVID, with Test Matches and ODIs happening at the same time. The result is we’ve found we’re not just missing one or two players, but five or six at a time. When you are missing six players through England, then others through injury or illness, this becomes very hard to control. We have had to manage that throughout the season.

There are lots of positives to take from the season, but as we sit now, we are in Division Two and we have to start again.

How are you feeling given that some senior players have left the squad?

In an ideal world, players wouldn’t want to leave but I respect all the decisions of those that have gone. I understand their reasons for leaving and wish them well.

Ottis and I want players who want to be part of our story next year and that is what I have tried to concentrate on from a management point of view. I leave the coaching to Ottis and the good team that we have in place.

  • Talk to us about Steve Patterson, who is leaving the club – what can you say about him and how will you replace him?

    Steve has had a wonderful career with Yorkshire, and I say congratulations to him.

    He’s a great personality, a true icon who has been outstanding for the club. He was not blessed with pace, but he worked tirelessly on his skills and accuracy and has gone on to achieve great success over many years. He was a brilliant captain during a difficult period for the side and is hugely respected within the game.

    When I returned to Yorkshire as captain many years ago, Steve was relatively new into his professional career and volunteered the number 8 shirt back to me as he knew that it was my preferred shirt number. I think this sums him up, a no nonsense individual who just wanted to play cricket for Yorkshire.

    I’d like to wish him all the best with his next venture and I’m sure he will make a huge success of it. He will always be welcome back at Headingley.

    I always chat with the coaches to see how we would like to take the team forward. We felt that we needed to strengthen our all-round squad across competitions. We identified Matt Milnes, an experienced performer, and Ben Mike, who is a young work in progress. We would love to have an overseas fast bowler as well.

    In an ideal world, you need to have seven or eight bowlers in your seam attack who can be available for all formats. If everybody is fit, we believe that Steve would not be in the starting XI.

    How did you assess the overseas signings?

    Haris Rauf was a good signing and did really well. He was quick and what our bowling attack needed. With him in the side, we looked a lot better. His performance at Bristol was vital as he took crucial wickets to enable us to win the game, while he really stood out against Northants and Kent in particular. Unfortunately for us, the repetition of games and the way that the schedules were put together, playing six games in a row, was hard on everyone.

    Our one-day signings were important in enabling the club to get to Vitality Blast Finals Day for the first time in six years. Those signings were right for that team and what we needed.

    Dimuth Karunaratne only came in for two games. He would have been an excellent signing if he had played all season. For any player to come in for a couple of games is always going to be difficult.

    A concern moving forward for cricket in general is that it is very difficult nowadays to take an overseas signing for a long period because of the scheduling of the wider calendar.

    With this in mind, we identified Shan Masood for next season and offered him a two-year contract as he will be able to play for long periods. That shows the commitment that we have made for an overseas player and I think that we will get that commitment back from him.

  • The Club have confirmed that Shan will be Club Captain next year. Tell us a bit about him, the other signings that Yorkshire have made and how important the winter training schedule will be?

    Having met Shan a few times, he’s a very impressive human being and a great captain. He enjoyed his time at Derbyshire, who gave him an opportunity, but he was keen to come and play at Headingley.

    Shan understands the challenges that are facing us with a lot of senior players leaving. We believe that he has the experience, know-how and man-management skills to be a great leader for Yorkshire. We are so excited that he is coming on board.

    We have also signed Matt Milnes who I think is a terrific signing. He is coming in off the back of an injury, which isn’t ideal, but he will hopefully be fit for the start of the season.

    Ben Mike is a terrific talent and one for the future. His one-day skills are plain to see. There is a bit of work for him to do on the longer format but we have a lot of players at a similar development stage.

    With these new signings, how do you feel the squad is shaping up?

    The winter schedule is important as it is the first time that we have been able to be together with the squad outside of the busy summer schedule. Now we are all together and all as one. We know our squad and we can really work hard over the next few months to be ready for March.

    Joe Root and Dawid Malan have just signed new contracts, with Joe signing a two year contract and Dawid a two year extension on top of the one year that he has left. There is a lot to be excited about and players are committed to this Club.

    When Ben Coad is fit and firing, he is a terrific performer. Matthew Fisher played the first and last game of the year and he showed with those performances at Bristol and then Headingley on the last game how important he is to Yorkshire.

    Looking at players coming through, George Hill has had some great opportunities this season; batting at one, two and three. He scored two hundreds, 790 runs and took 20 wickets. George probably wouldn’t have got that opportunity if it wasn’t for all of the Test call-ups.

    Matthew Revis is another youngster who played an important role. He stood up and played in a lot of high pressure situations for us this year, so he will be better for this moving forward.

    Other exciting talent includes James Wharton, who has played a good chunk of games after making his debut at 21-years-old. Finlay Bean rejoined the Club from league cricket where he was playing for York. Finlay made a world record score in the second team and went on to make his first team debut as well.

    These are just a few of the young players who have already cut their teeth at first team level and an example of the talent that we have at the Club.

    How pleased were you with Yorkshire winning the Second XI Championship?

    The seconds’ victory was a remarkable achievement when you consider that they used 40 players as most of the second team were playing in the first XI throughout the season.

    The second XI needed to include players from the academy and some players from league cricket. Tim Boon has done a fantastic job of going around the leagues every Saturday looking at different players and identifying talent from around the county. We have managed to find some exciting players who we will be keeping an eye on over the next 12 months.

    For us to win the Second XI Championship under those circumstances is a terrific effort and will stand us in good stead.

    It was a hugely positive year for Harry Brook who has committed his long-term future to the Club…

    Harry has been amazing. He is an absolute genius and a pleasure to work with.

    Harry’s work rate and the way in which he goes about his business on a daily basis shows that he is a great example to everyone in the Yorkshire dressing room, much the same as Joe Root before him.

    Everybody looks up to Harry Brook in that dressing room as a cricketer as he shows what can be achieved in a very short time when you put your mind to it. He is a great example to all the youngsters coming through and we are delighted that he is committed to Yorkshire for the next five years.

    What would you like to see going into next season?

    I would like to see unity; unity within the membership and fanbase which will help to encourage unity within.

    My job has been to come in here and rebuild Yorkshire. We have got an unbelievable medical team in place and we have some excellent coaches with great experience all around the world. With the additions that we have and a full winter ahead, I think that we can move forward very quickly.

    The Pathways has been a big area of focus and I feel we have made some really strong improvements. The Pathways is obviously a long-term plan but there has been a huge amount of work going on to improve this. We have already seen some great results in the two ECB competitions, with the under 14s winning the ECB Cup and the under 16s finishing runners-up. The hard work will continue over the winter and in to the seasons ahead as we work on really building that pipeline of future talent.

    Finally, I would also like to congratulate the Northern Diamonds on their recent Rachael Heyhoe-Flint success at Lord’s, which was brilliant. I look forward to watching the Women’s game further flourish in the years to come.