Yorkshire; the heartbeat of English cricket
Yorkshire pride themselves as world’s most famous cricket club. Perhaps rightly so too as the club’s cricket ground – Headingley is part of cricketing folklore while the club itself has produced the greatest number of players to represent England. Yorkshire is widely recognized as the heartbeat of English cricket. Of course, they are the most successful team in County Cricket having won a record 33 Championships.

Historically, there were periods where Yorkshire were so dominant in the County Circuit that they have won multiple titles in a row like between 1922 to 1925 when they won four Championships on the trot and narrowly missed out on a fifth when they finished runners-up in 1926. The 1960s marked unprecedented success for Yorkshire as they won seven titles. All this mind you while insisting on homegrown talent alone. Until 1968, non Yorkshire born players weren’t allowed to represent the County.

Then, while overseas players were a popular addition to County Cricket, Yorkshire were adamant to stick to local players and only changed the rule in 1992 when they signed a 19-year-old Sachin Tendulkar.

While opening batsman were the toast of Yorkshire at one-point, fast bowlers took it up later on helping the County to dominate the sport.

In recent years, though, Yorkshire has taken a beating having not won a County Championship since 2015. The club was also investigated for racism after accusations from former players.

The club is 160 years old and has taken part in every County Championship from the start having been one of the first nine Counties to play in the inaugural season in 1890.

The trademark of Yorkshire players is their courage. Be it fielding at short leg or facing fiercest fast bowlers or for batting long hours to save games, Yorkshiremen have shown their grit in plenty. Obviously, age was just a number for Yorkshiremen. Wilfred Rhodes was 52 years and 165 days old when he played his last Test match.

The debate for the finest cricketer to emerge from Yorkshire is an interesting one, but none could ignore the impact of Fred Trueman. The first bowler to take 300 wickets in Test match cricket, Trueman claimed over 1700 wickets for Yorkshire that included 100 wickets in a season for 12 times.

Sir Len Hutton, England legend, scored over 40,000 runs in First Class cricket with 129 hundreds and his time with Yorkshire spread for more than 20 years. Obviously his 364 scored against Australia in 1938 has stood for over 80 years as the highest score by an England batter in Test match cricket.

Herbert Sutcliffe, George Hurst, Wilfred Rhodes and Hedley Verity are some of Yorkshire’s early day heroes. Hurst and Rhodes are two of the three players in the history of the game to complete the double of 30,000 runs and 2500 wickets in First Class cricket. Rhodes has the World Record for most appearances – 1100 and most wickets – 4204 – in First Class cricket.

Sutcliffe was one of the most successful batters in the history of the game and his Test average of 60: 73 is the fourth highest in Test cricket.

Although in later years Yorkshire gained a reputation as a factory of fast bowlers, in the early days they were famous for their quality spinners, particularly the left-arm orthodox ones. The man who succeeded Rhodes was Hedley Verity, who troubled the batsmen with the bounce he generated off the pitch. In his seven years with Yorkshire, he helped the County win six Championships before war cut short his brilliant career. He took over 1500 First Class wickets for Yorkshire just under 14.

Verity was enlisted to the war in 1939 and died a prisoner of war in Italy in 1943.

Geoff Boycott is another legend of Yorkshire cricket and although modern day generations have grown up listening to his commentaries, his single-mindedness and prowess of concentrating batting for England or Yorkshire were legendary.

Ray Illingworth, a contemporary of Boycott is another leading figure from Yorkshire having captained England and gone on to become a successful administrator of the game.

Joe Root and Michael Vaughan are other greats of cricket from the County. Root is currently second in the list of all-time run scorers for England and it’s just a matter of time before he goes past Alastair Cook.

Vaughan’s leadership qualities are legendary having helped England regain The Ashes in 2005 against many odds.

Headingley, a quiet suburb in the city of Leeds houses one of the most beautiful cricket grounds in the world. Headingley has been Yorkshire’s home ground since 1890 and has hosted Test cricket since 1899.

Interestingly, Yorkshire didn’t own the ground until 2005. They parted ways with GBP 12 million to buy the historic ground twenty years ago. Since then, the ground has undergone major redevelopment work but hasn’t lost the old charm.

The dressing rooms, pavilion and the Media Center can be accessed from the main road without much hassle. Headingley is modern and a well-planned venue.

Headingley Lodge situated inside the ground has 36 rooms and gives a great view of the game. The place is becoming quite popular during the cricket season.

Headingley has witnessed some of the epic encounters in the game of cricket. In 1981, the Ashes were slipping away from England. Forced to follow on with 227 runs behind, England were 135 for seven in the second innings facing a heavy defeat. Then Ian Botham turned things around dramatically and Bob Willis nailed a hard-fought 18 run win.  Willis took eight for 43 in the second innings and it’s still a record at Headingley.

Sir Don Bradman made back-to-back triple hundreds at Headingley during The Ashes. In 1930 he ended up with 334 with 309 of those runs coming in one day. It is the only instance in a Test match where more than 300 runs have been scored by a batsman on a day. In the 1934 trip he made 304.

England opener John Edrich also made a triple hundred 31 years later against New Zealand.