Yorkshire (cricket)

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While cricket was well-established in the south-east of England by the end of the seventeenth century, it is probable that it didn't even reach the country's largest county, Yorkshire, until the eighteenth. Despite the late start, Yorkshire by the early years of the twentieth century had become the dominant county in English cricket and today it is readily associated with the sport on even a casual basis. The city of Sheffield was the stage for cricket's development in the county and it is believed that the town club had been founded by about 1760. In the early nineteenth century, Sheffield were good enough to play against county teams and called themselves Yorkshire on these occasions. On 8 January 1863, after the sport had spread throughout the county, the Sheffield club hosted a meeting at which Yorkshire County Cricket Club (Yorkshire CCC) was founded.

Yorkshire CCC were founder members of the official County Cricket Championship in 1890. They won their first championship title in 1893 under the leadership of Lord Hawke who became the most successful team captain in the history of county cricket, winning the title a record eight times. To date, Yorkshire have won the County Championship a record 33 times (one shared). Their most successful periods were through the first half of the twentieth century, especially the inter-war years, and in the 1960s but they went into decline somewhat as limited overs superseded the three-day game. Yorkshire have nevertheless won five limited overs trophies. They won the championship again in 2001, for the first time since 1968, and then had a successful period in the 2010s with successive titles in 2014 and 2015.

Yorkshire's original home base was Bramall Lane in Sheffield. They moved to Headingley Cricket Ground in 1891 and this became a regular venue for Test cricket from 1899. Yorkshire used to play around the county at numerous local grounds but the majority of home matches are now at Headingley. The exception is North Marine Road, Scarborough, where they first played in 1878, as this continues to host the annual end-of-season Scarborough Festival. Nearly 100 Yorkshire players have played Test cricket for England. They include Bill Bowes, Geoffrey Boycott, Brian Close, Tom Emmett, Lord Hawke, George Hirst, Len Hutton, Ray Illingworth, Stanley Jackson, Maurice Leyland, Bobby Peel, Wilfred Rhodes, Joe Root, Herbert Sutcliffe, Fred Trueman, George Ulyett, Michael Vaughan and Hedley Verity.

Early history

The earliest certain reference to cricket in the county of Yorkshire dates from 1751 when a game took place on or soon after Monday, 5 August at Stanwick, near Richmond, between the Duke of Cleveland's XI and the Earl of Northumberland's XI; the same teams having earlier played a game at Durham.[1] There have been some vague and probably spurious mentions of local games in Sheffield being played around the same time but the earliest certain reference to Sheffield cricket is a 1757 match in Derbyshire.[2] Those matches are also the earliest references to cricket in the counties of County Durham and Derbyshire.

Badge and colours

Yorkshire's club colours are dark blue, light blue and gold; these are knitted in bands forming the v-neck of each player's sweater.[3] Lord Hawke, in the early days of his captaincy, designed the famous white rose badge. Copying the idea from Lancashire, who already had adopted the red rose as a symbol, Hawke designed a rose which, unlike Lancashire's, was not a real flower. He created a rose with eleven petals, to represent the eleven players of the team, based on the hedge rose. Only players who had received their county cap were allowed to wear the badge.[4]

Club captains

Four Yorkshire players – Stanley Jackson, Len Hutton, Ray Illingworth and Michael Vaughan – have captained England to success in The Ashes yet none of them was club captain at the time (Ray Illingworth had just left Yorkshire for Leicestershire when he became captain of England; he later returned to Yorkshire).

From 1883 to 1959 inclusive, Yorkshire always had an amateur club captain. The extent of leadership given by these gentlemen has long been a subject of discussion. Hawke and Sellers are generally held to have been autocratic and decisive, but in fact both relied heavily on sound professional advice. At the other extreme, Wilfred Rhodes is supposed to have been the de facto captain from 1920 to 1930, but it was Major Arthur Lupton who restored discipline to the side when a row erupted between Yorkshire and Middlesex in 1924.[5]

Lord Hawke famously said at the Yorkshire Annual General Meeting in 1925: "Pray God, no professional shall ever captain England. I love and admire them all, but we have always had an amateur skipper and when the day comes when we shall have no more amateurs captaining England it will be a thousand pities".[6] In view of this, it is perhaps surprising that, when Lupton retired at the end of the 1927 season, Hawke was one of the sponsors of a proposal that Herbert Sutcliffe should become the captain. This didn't happen, largely because the players felt that Wilfred Rhodes, as senior professional, had a prior claim.[6]

The proposal was dropped and Yorkshire continued to appoint amateur captains until 1960 when Vic Wilson succeeded Ronnie Burnet to become the club's first professional captain since Tom Emmett. Brian Close, who took over in 1963, has been Yorkshire's most successful professional captain with four County Championships. Andrew Gale has been the most successful captain in recent times, leading the team to championship titles in 2014 and 2015.


  1. Waghorn, p. 27.
  2. Maun, pp. 78–79.
  3. Playfair. Playfair Cricket Annual (70th edition), 2017. London: Headline. 
  4. Hodgson, p. 77.
  5. Woodhouse, p. 333.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Gibson, pp. 154–156.


  • Barclays (1986). Barclays World of Cricket. Willow Books. ISBN 0-00-218193-2. 
  • Birley, Derek (1999). A Social History of English Cricket. Aurum. ISBN 1-85410-710-0. 
  • Gibson, Alan (1989). The Cricket Captains of England. Pavilion Library. ISBN 1-85145-390-3. 
  • Hodgson, Derek (1989). The Official History of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Crowood Press. ISBN 1-85223-274-9. 
  • Kilburn, J. M. (1970). A History of Yorkshire Cricket. Stanley Paul. ISBN 0-09-101110-8. 
  • Maun, Ian (2009). From Commons to Lord's, Volume One: 1700 to 1750. Roger Heavens. 
  • Trueman, Fred (2004). As It Was. Macmillan. ISBN 0-330-42705-9. 
  • Waghorn, H. T. (1906). The Dawn of Cricket. Electric Press. 
  • Woodhouse, Anthony (1989). The History of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Christopher Helm. ISBN 0-7470-3408-7. 

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