Yorkshire have been left “surprised and disappointed” after being overlooked by the England and Wales Cricket Board in the initial ‘tier one’ revamp of the women’s game.

The governing body has awarded new professional teams to eight first-class counties, replacing the regional structure from next summer, but Yorkshire were edged out in what was effectively a head-to-head with Durham.

Both Yorkshire and Glamorgan have been invited to join an expanded top flight in 2027, with funding to help prepare their coaching pathways, but the news has been met with an unhappy response from Headingley on the eve of the new women’s domestic campaign.

The Northern Diamonds won the Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy in 2022 and finished as runners-up in the previous two seasons.

A statement from the club’s board read: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club are surprised and disappointed not to be awarded one of the initial Tier 1 women’s teams as part of the first allocations from the ECB.

“The news is especially frustrating and upsetting for the players and staff at the Northern Diamonds. They have been trying to deal with it whilst preparing for their first game of the season in two days. Our focus is on supporting them through this difficult period and gaining as much clarity on what the future looks like.

“Yorkshire has the largest active playing base of women and girls in the country, has produced many players that have gone on to represent England in the women’s game, winning the County Championship 16 times and Headingley has been successfully hosting the Northern Diamonds since 2020, so naturally the news has been tough to take.”

The White Rose has endured a turbulent time in recent years, embattled by the Azeem Rafiq racism crisis and fighting major financial troubles leading to the controversial return of Colin Graves as chair.

But there has been a renewed commitment to equality of opportunity at the club against that troubled backdrop, work which the board were keen to highlight.

“Yorkshire has a rich ethnicity mix and as part of our ongoing work to be the most welcoming and inclusive cricket club in the country, we use women’s and girl’s cricket as the cornerstone to creating real, tangible value in those communities that need it the most,” it said.

“We believe we hit all of the criteria set out as part of the tender, so we will be taking time to investigate and understand the detail behind the decision, assessing the best next steps for the club and most importantly ensuring we support the players and staff that are impacted.”

Dawid Malan accepts his time with England has likely run its course but is planning his future in cricket by taking the first steps towards a coaching career with Yorkshire.

Malan still has six months left to run on the England central contract he signed last October but, despite finishing last year’s disappointing World Cup defence as top-scorer in a well beaten side, he is highly unlikely to wear the national team shirt again.

While not officially retired Malan’s name was conspicuous by its absence from the squads which immediately followed the dire campaign in India and, after 92 limited-overs internationals and 22 Test caps, the 36-year-old is looking to the next chapter.

Having agreed a white-ball only deal at Headingley for 2024 he will spend the early part of the season on hand to help his fellow batters, from first-team level downwards, before returning to the playing fold for the Vitality Blast.

“It’s quite exciting. I’ll see if can share some of my knowledge, if anyone wants it, and find out if it’s something I enjoy,” he said.

“I still feel I’ve got two or three years of playing if things go well and I can still perform, but I want to give back as much as I can now. It’s exciting to be back and give myself a different kind of challenge at this time of year than the one I usually have.

“It’s something I suggested to the club, because I’ve been thinking for a while about what I want to do after I’m finished. Do I want to get out totally or stay in cricket?

“Regardless of whether you earn £20million or £20,000 doing something, it’s whether you enjoy it or not. I don’t know if I’d enjoy sitting in four walls and sitting on phones all day, so this is the perfect opportunity for me.

“It’s an unofficial capacity but I’ll throw some balls and speak to whoever wants to speak to me about batting without treading on any of the coaches’ toes.”

Despite being midway through a year-long England deal, Malan is realistic enough not to pin his hopes on getting a comeback call for this summer’s T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the United States of America.

“I had a chat the day after (the World Cup) and that’s been it pretty much. They told me their reasons and that’s fine,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say performance would have anything to do with it. In 2023 I had a pretty good year in 50-over cricket and I wouldn’t say I’m old considering Jimmy Anderson is 41 or something like that!

“Obviously I know they might want to go in a different direction and they’re entitled to do whatever they think is the best way to move English cricket in the right direction. I still feel I’m good enough and young enough to do it but that’s out of my control, selection-wise.”

Despite spending a long period ranked as the number one T20 batter in the world, and averaging 55 in ODI cricket, Malan has spent much of his time as an international player defending his methods against those who prefer more extravagant hitters.


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And, as he turns his attention to mentoring others, he plans to learn from his own experiences.

“I guess I’ve never been someone who likes to be told what to do,” he said.

“Whether it’s by coaches or by the media, I feel it’s always been ‘you have to play this way to be successful’. But there’s not just one way to score runs or win games of cricket. There’s plenty of ways to score runs without being the stereotypical batter, put it that way.

“Hopefully that’s enjoyable for me as well – putting in the work with guys and seeing how they can put that into practice.

“I know I’ll have to be the guy that throws a thousand balls because I’m a player who demanded a thousand balls from the coaches when they’re throwing at me.”

The domestic cricket season is set to get under way this week, with the 2024 Vitality County Championship rolling into town on Friday.

Here, the PA news agency looks at some of the most compelling stories to keep tabs on as the action begins.

Three in a row for Stewart’s swansong?

It will be the end of an era when Alec Stewart takes his leave as Surrey’s director of cricket at the end of the year, with the former England captain already established as first among equals in the county’s modern history. After dominating the championship for the past two seasons, their hunger to see him off with a third successive title will now be even stronger than ever. “We’ll give it a red hot go,” he told the Sky Sports Cricket Podcast. “I know the appetite is there from the players. Is it going to be harder again? Definitely, because every side wants to beat us.”

England’s spin conundrum

England’s Test coach Brendon McCullum teed up a new narrative during the recent tour of India when he claimed it would be “slightly mad” if the strides taken by rookie spinners Tom Hartley, Shoaib Bashir and Rehan Ahmed were stymied by a lack of overs early in the domestic campaign. But it is tough to be overly optimistic about their short-term prospects. After finishing his maiden series as England’s top wicket-taker, Hartley’s path at Lancashire is blocked by the signing of Nathan Lyon, who is still available for seven of the first nine rounds despite Cricket Australia’s workload intervention. At Taunton, Bashir could be reduced to running drinks once England number one Jack Leach is back to full fitness. Ahmed has a clearer road at Leicestershire following the departure of Callum Parkinson, but he is perhaps the least ready to step up as a front-line bowler in home conditions. As ever, county cricket’s distant relationship with spin could cause headaches.

Gloves up for grabs

There is sure to be plenty of speculation over the identity of England’s Test wicketkeeper over the course of the summer, with Jonny Bairstow’s long-term status uncertain and Ben Foakes’ impeccable handiwork in India undermined by modest returns with the bat. Like Bairstow, Phil Salt is away at the Indian Premier League at the start of the English season, leaving the door open for a host of up-and-comers to elbow their way to the front of a busy queue. Durham’s Ollie Robinson was first choice for the England Lions over the winter and plays an ultra-aggressive ‘Bazball’ style already. The same is true of Foakes’ Surrey team-mate Jamie Smith, while James Rew has been tipped for great things after a breakout 2023 season at Somerset. Let battle commence.

Stars to shine for Yorkshire?

Good news has been perilously thin on the ground for Yorkshire in recent times, with the fallout of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal casting a long shadow. Relegation to Division Two in 2022 was followed by an underwhelming promotion push last time out and Darren Gough has been shown the door as director of cricket. Fans expecting another miserable campaign have two good reasons for optimism: Harry Brook and Joe Root. Having stepped away from the IPL, two of the finest batters in the country will be available for five first-class games each in the first seven rounds, including four together. It is inconceivable they will not raise the standard dramatically and go a long way to positioning the White Rose for a top-flight return.

Durham back where they belong

There is a tangible feeling of righteous indignation when it comes to Durham’s re-emergence at the top table of English cricket. In the midst of grave financial problems in 2016, they were penalised not only with enforced relegation but also a draconian 48-point penalty for the following season. A talent drain followed and hopes of coming back up were further affected by coronavirus complications. Now they are back in a spot they never lost on sporting grounds, with a progressive coach in Ryan Campbell and a fearless squad powered by Test hopefuls Matthew Potts, Brydon Carse, Alex Lees and Ollie Robinson. Every point will taste sweet for fans who have rightly felt aggrieved for eight years.

Harry Brook will make his competitive comeback by appearing in Yorkshire’s first five games of the county season, with fellow England batter Joe Root joining him for four.

Brook has not played since December, having withdrawn from the Test tour of India and his planned stint at the Indian Premier League following the death of his grandmother Pauline.

Yorkshire had already indicated that the 25-year-old was likely to return early in the Vitality County Championship campaign and, following discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board, have now confirmed his schedule.

Brook is ready to feature for the White Rose throughout April and the beginning of May, starting at home to Leicestershire on April 5 and taking in fixtures against Gloucestershire, Middlesex, Derbyshire and Glamorgan.

Thereafter, he is due to link up with England for their T20 series against Pakistan and June’s T20 World Cup.

After failing to win promotion from Division Two last year, Yorkshire’s chances of making serious waves in the second tier this year are further enhanced by the presence of former Test captain Root.

Having played a full part in the two-month Test tour of India he will miss the curtain-raiser at Headingley but then links up with the side for their next four fixtures, as well as the visit to Northamptonshire on May 24.

Head coach Ottis Gibson, who needs to see some improved results following Darren Gough’s departure as director of cricket, had earlier trailed the pair’s availability, suggesting: “Having those two playing for us would be special.”

Colin Graves has written to Yorkshire members urging them to back the “bumpy ride” that would come with his proposed return or face the prospect of insolvency.

An extraordinary general meeting will take place at Headingley on February 2 to vote through changes that would see Graves reinstated as chair of the debt-stricken club with associates Phillip Hodson, Sanjeev Gandhi and Sanjay Patel joining the board.

The existing board has already recommended Graves’ loan offer and proposals, which require a two-thirds majority among the membership to go ahead.

Spinner turned whistleblower Azeem Rafiq, whose experiences of racism partly occurred during Graves’ previous reign between 2012-2015, has strongly criticised any comeback for Graves, while the parliamentary culture, media and sport committee has said it will be “watching closely” and has invited the 76-year-old to appear in front of it.

With nearly £15m in debts to the Graves family trust and a fresh £1m cash injection instantly repayable should the changes not win approval, the immediate financial situation is a stark one.

Graves’ letter puts it in clear terms to members, stating: “If the deal does not receive the requisite support of members the consequences are far-reaching. This may result in administration or an insolvency event.”

He later adds of his own rescue plans: “Make no mistake, this is not going to be easy. It will be a bumpy ride and there is a great deal to do. We can do this together with hard work, transparency, trust and enthusiasm from committed people.

“I therefore ask you to give me your support on the ballot paper as I have outlined my manifesto to you to make YCCC great again.”

Graves directly addressed concerns over Yorkshire’s future as a member-owned club, with other potential investors having sought an outright takeover. He said that was not part of his immediate vision for the White Rose but made no long-term promises.

“I want to make it clear that there are no discussions or plans to change the mutual status of YCCC. However in the changing and challenging arena of both UK and World sport, nothing can be ruled out in the future,” he wrote.

“At all times we will ensure that the rights of all YCCC members to watch all professional cricket in Yorkshire will be maintained.”

Reiterating last week’s apology for any discrimination that took place during his prior tenure, he again attempted to appease those who fear his return would represent a backwards step.

“It is my personal pledge to you and to the entire Yorkshire public that, regardless of background, community or ethnicity, all will be welcome in the fully inclusive culture and environment of Yorkshire County Cricket Club,” he said.

“There will be no exceptions. I have unreservedly apologised for any and all mistakes either I or the club has made over the painful and difficult years of the recent past. Lessons have been learned and will continue to be acted on as we move forward and focus on the future of our great club.”

Colin Graves’ controversial return to Yorkshire is edging closer, with the club’s board meeting on Tuesday to discuss a consortium offer that would see him reinstated as chair.

Yorkshire’s long search for fresh investment has brought them back to the man who served as executive chair between 2012 and 2015 before performing the same role at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

His money saved the county from financial oblivion once before, when he first became involved in 2002, and he is now eager for a second act at Headingley, where debts to the Graves family trust are close to £15million.

With time running out to keep the business viable, and other investors no longer at the table, it appears the board will recommend the Graves plan to members and pave the way for the 75-year-old’s comeback. It has been reported that an immediate loan of £1million would be forthcoming, followed quickly by new investment worth a further £4m.

Graves’ group had a period of exclusivity with the club which had been due to expire on Friday, but has now been extended to Tuesday as a conclusion nears.

He told talkSPORT: “The ball is in the Yorkshire board’s court to make a decision, but my interest is real, it’s absolute, and that’s for one reason and one reason only, and it’s to save Yorkshire County Cricket Club. None of us wants to see that institution disappear.

“It’s not in a good place so from my point of view that’s the reason I’m doing this. I’m passionate about the place and I want to make sure that Yorkshire County Cricket Club survives and prospers.”

It would still prove a divisive move given the racism scandal which has engulfed Yorkshire in recent years, an episode which partially took place during Graves’ first stint in charge, and has already drawn criticism.

Sporting Equals, a charity which promotes ethnic diversity in UK Sport, issued an open letter to sports minister Stuart Andrew and the England and Wales Cricket Board warning it would “undermine the progress” the game has made against racism and “make a mockery” of those who have suffered in the past.

The most high-profile of those, former Yorkshire spinner turned whistleblower Azeem Rafiq, says he is unsurprised but dismayed by the prospect of Graves’ re-emergence.

He told the PA news agency: “I’m aware that it is pretty much a done deal. It’s inevitable now but it is going to be a sad day for all those that have suffered racism.

“Unfortunately I think the members’ vote (to ratify Graves’ return) is probably the most inevitable part. From my social media interactions it seems clear where the membership will go. It’s not for me to sit here and try to change their mind but I would say be careful what you wish for in terms of his plans for the club.

“Whether it’s members, sponsors or people who work at the club, history will remember which side you were on.”

Rafiq wrote a newspaper article at the weekend calling on sponsors to oppose Graves by withdrawing their backing.

One current sponsor says the words and actions of Graves will have a “strong bearing” on whether it continues to engage with the club, should he return.

A spokesperson for tiling company Al Murad, who came on board as a community partner in 2022 following the appointment of Lord Kamlesh Patel as chair, told PA: “We are reviewing the situation at Yorkshire Cricket very carefully.

“We are in communication – and we expect to be communicated to – as the process of securing long-term funding is brought to a conclusion that will trigger constitutional and governance arrangements to deliver financial stability going forward.

“On the strength of that information and communication, we will review how intrinsic is equity, equality, representation and inclusiveness at Yorkshire Cricket if Mr Graves does take the helm.

“The deep changes required that Lord Kamlesh Patel subsequently brought about, and future commitment to go above and beyond, will have a strong bearing on how we view any future engagement. Of course the ECB and possibly other actors will have a bearing on the final outcome.”

The ECB and representatives of Colin Graves have declined to comment.

A sponsor of Yorkshire says the words and actions of Colin Graves will have a “strong bearing” on whether it continues to engage with the club, should he return.

Graves is understood to be close to completing a return to the financially-stricken club, where he first served as chair between 2012 and 2015 before performing the same role at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The 75-year-old’s previous Yorkshire tenure covered part of a period where the club have since admitted charges of failing to address the systemic use of racist or discriminatory language.

For his part Graves denies knowledge of any racist behaviour during his time at the club but controversially suggested there was “a lot of banter”.

Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq said in a column for The Observer at the weekend that sponsors should question their continued involvement in the club, and one of them, tiling company Al Murad, has now indicated that it is closely assessing the situation in light of the news concerning Graves.

A spokesperson for Al Murad told the PA news agency: “We are reviewing the situation at Yorkshire Cricket very carefully.

“We are in communication – and we expect to be communicated to – as the process of securing long-term funding is brought to a conclusion that will trigger constitutional and governance arrangements to deliver financial stability going forward.

“On the strength of that information and communication, we will review how intrinsic is equity, equality, representation and inclusiveness at Yorkshire Cricket if Mr Graves does take the helm.

“The deep changes required that Lord Kamlesh Patel subsequently brought about, and future commitment to go above and beyond, will have a strong bearing on how we view any future engagement. Of course the ECB and possibly other actors will have a bearing on the final outcome.”

Yorkshire-based Al Murad came on board as a community partner of the club in 2022 in a three-year deal, following the appointment of Lord Kamlesh Patel as chair after the racism scandal under the club’s previous leadership led to a number of sponsors walking away.

Al Murad’s support features on the county age group team kits and the company’s partnership and investment with the club focuses on improving access to the pathway structure and seeks to remove socio-economic barriers to entry as well as coaching bias.

Graves said his sole reason for wanting to return to Yorkshire was to help save the club.

He told talkSPORT: “The ball is in the Yorkshire board’s court to make a decision, but my interest is real, it’s absolute, and that’s for one reason and one reason only, and it’s to save Yorkshire County Cricket Club. None of us wants to see that institution disappear.

“It’s not in a good place so from my point of view that’s the reason I’m doing this. I’m passionate about the place and I want to make sure that Yorkshire County Cricket Club survives and prospers.”

It has been a stellar year that will live long in the memory of Julie Camacho, as Shaquille’s seismic rise to sprinting stardom catapulted the Yorkshire handler to the top of the sport.

The Star Cottage operation has always been respected when it comes to handling speedsters, Judicial’s longevity was the proof in that particular pudding.

However, in Shaquille, luck had brought a rare diamond to Camacho’s door and over the course of 2023, her team honed that burgeoning talent to perfection.

Little under two miles away from where John Quinn prepared Highfield Princess to thrive in 2022, the Malton air proved ripe for propelling another fledgling speedster to the highest level, as Shaquille went from unheralded handicapper to Group One superstar.

“Shaquille was wonderful and it culminated in the two Group Ones, which were obviously unexpected when you are starting a horse off in a handicap at the Guineas meeting,” said Camacho’s husband and assistant Steve Brown.

“It’s all been a bit of a blur and when it is not as busy and we are on holiday, we might sit down and reflect on what a fantastic year we’ve had.

“At the time, it’s on to the next day and you have got to be concerned about all of your horses, it’s just another day on the treadmill really.

“It’s been beyond our wildest dreams really and has moved our yard to another level. Obviously, there were other good results, like Significantly winning the Ayr Gold Cup, and it has been a wonderful year and we don’t really want it to end.”

It is fair to say that Shaquille had his own style of getting from A to B, often leaving connections and punters sweating at various points in a contest, but when the winning post approached, his athletic prowess would come to the fore and he was always at the peak of his powers when it mattered most.

“He’s a horse who is a little bit unconventional in his running style and at times has made life that little bit harder for himself, but ultimately everything stops with the result and the results were positive and there were some great days,” continued Brown.

“I think he is a really gifted athlete and time proved that. I think he has great capacity and a great ability to maintain his speed.

“Often, horses show speed for a certain amount of the race and then gradually wither away – but he could maintain his speed and I think he is a horse of great athletic ability, which he showed for most of his career.

“He was unconventional but very effective. We all love a maverick in life and I think he had a touch of that about him, but he certainly had plenty of brilliance on his day.”

Despite winning three of his four two-year-old starts, there were few clues to suggest that over the next 12 months, Shaquille would develop into one of the season’s leading performers.

His three-year-old campaign got off to the worst possible start when withdrawn at the start on All-Weather Championship Finals Day, but once dominating a field of useful handicappers at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting, the momentum began to build and build before reaching a Group One crescendo during the height of summer.

“His rate of progression was unbelievable really and he stepped up to Listed and then to the Group Ones and he proved himself to be a very good horse and we really enjoyed the ride,” said Brown.

“When he won three of his four two-year-old races, he always looked very good but not to the level that we ended up racing at, we thought he would just be what you would call a ‘nice horse’ level, not a Group One horse.

“He did catch us by surprise, but the one thing I have always said was when he would come back in after he won, he never came in tired, he was always a fresh horse afterwards.

“He always galloped out well after his races and you always felt there was more there, but at what level, we weren’t sure. It’s lovely when you can just progress a horse quietly through the grades with no pressure.”

There was soon no hiding place for Shaquille, as victory in Newbury’s Carnarvon Stakes left connections with little option but to take a shot at the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

Even so, Camacho and Brown were still refusing to feel the pressure, as they set about enjoying rubbing shoulders with the best.

That laid-back approach seemed to be inherited by Shaquille himself, as he reared and then sat dozily in the stalls as the best three-year-old sprinters were already making their way up the Ascot straight.

Eventually getting into stride under Oisin Murphy, he worked his way back into the contest before his raw power took him past Aidan O’Brien’s big-race fancy Little Big Bear in the closing stages.

“He went from his novices to a handicap, to a Listed and then the programme book forced you up to Group One and we sort of thought it was worth a go,” explained Brown.

“We went to Ascot feeling no pressure, because the Coolmore horse was a hotpot and we just thought we would go and have a lovely time – and if he ran well, we would be delighted. Of course, it was such a great day, to win it was wonderful.”

He went on: “It was a totally different feeling to the July Cup, because then you had expectation, whereas we were pretty cool at Royal Ascot and thought if we hit the frame, then everyone has had a great day out and we’ll go home still having a progressive horse.”

With a first Group One in the bank and a day to remember etched into the memory, the pressure Camacho and co declined to feel heading into Ascot suddenly weighed massively on their shoulders as Shaquille was tasked with backing up his impressive Commonwealth Cup in Newmarket’s July Cup.

He was sent of the 5-2 joint-favourite alongside his Ascot rival Little Big Bear and, while the Coolmore charge sank under the weight of expectation, the son of Charm Spirit grew in stature to deliver an utterly devastating display.

Again, Shaquille gave his rivals a glimmer of hope and all associated with him palpitations by rearing at the start and exiting the stalls in his own time.

However, whereas at Ascot he worked his way gradually into contention, this time around the colt carted his substitute rider Rossa Ryan to the head of proceedings and never let up as he galloped out to back-to-back big-race triumphs.

“Newmarket obviously came with pressure, but you also had the realisation that this can be achieved,” continued Brown.

“You have suddenly got a very good horse and it was sort of ‘why can’t we think we can go and win the July Cup’ – and fortunately he did.”

There was a sting to the tail in the Shaquille story, as he was unable to back up his Ascot and Newmarket heroics when bidding for a third Group One triumph in Haydock’s Sprint Cup.

It was the final time the champion sprinter was seen on a racecourse before heading off into retirement and stallion duties at Dullingham Park Stud, with that Merseyside flop the only black mark on his phenomenal journey to the top of the sprinting tree.

“We still never found a satisfactory explanation for that,” added Brown.

“The horses weren’t in good form and I suppose that is the most plausible reason, but I have it in the back of my mind that he put so much into Ascot and Newmarket and did that just have an effect on him on that day at Haydock.

“We will never know unfortunately, and the only shame is his career ended on a bit of a low, as the rest of it was magical.”

John and Thady Gosden’s Arrest is poised to throw down a Classic challenge in the Betfred St Leger, with wet weather in the Yorkshire area helping to put conditions in his favour.

The Frankel colt entered the Leger picture when winning the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury in August, a length-and-half-success that came on good to soft ground and signalled a return to winning ways for a horse who was sent off favourite for the Derby having impressed when the rain was falling in the Chester Vase.

An Indian summer threatened to put his chance of lining up on Town Moor in jeopardy, but the heavens have since opened and Doncaster was good to soft, soft in places on Tuesday afternoon.

Barry Mahon of owners Juddmonte said: “He’s in good shape, I think John and Thady are both happy with how he’s training.

“We’re just keeping an eye on the weather forecast because it looks to be changing a bit, it looked a bit unlikely that we’d be running last week but I think they’ve had a bit more rain than was anticipated and there looks to be more to come.

“At the minute we’re very much on track for Saturday, we’ll just monitor the ground later in the week.”

While the final British Classic of the season was under consideration early for Arrest, his training team now look particularly well-stocked for the race with Gregory the current favourite and Middle Earth a supplementary entry.

Frankie Dettori, who has ridden Arrest in all of his starts this season, is engaged to partner Gregory, the horse he rode to land the Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot.

With the race still taking shape and conditions likely to change between now and Saturday, Arrest’s rider remains unconfirmed.

Mahon added: “I asked John that question this morning and he said he’d go away and think about it over the next 24 hours and come up with a plan.

“I suppose the ground could dictate what Frankie will do, if it came up soft then he might change his mind, I don’t know.

“We’ll have to see in the next 24 hours what John and Thady want to do.”

Jonny Bairstow hopes to enjoy plenty more great partnerships with Harry Brook after the Yorkshire pair set England up for a convincing T20 victory over New Zealand on Friday.

Bairstow and Brook shared in a ferocious third-wicket stand of 131 from just 65 balls to lay the platform for an emphatic 95-run win in the second Vitality international at Old Trafford.

Bairstow batted throughout the innings for an unbeaten 86 from 60 balls while Brook, making a further point after his recent World Cup snub, smashed five sixes in a 36-ball 67.

“We tried to bide our time a little bit because it was quite tricky to start on,” said Bairstow.

“He hit a couple of magnificent shots over extra cover, and then that kind of kickstarts momentum.

“We had a bit of a chuckle the other day because we haven’t actually batted that much together, to be honest, and we were (saying), ‘come on’ we’re due a decent partnership at some point. I hope that’s the first of a few over the next few years.”

Their stand provided the backbone of England’s imposing 198 for four.

The Kiwis were never in the contest as they slumped to 103 all out in reply with impressive England debutant Gus Atkinson taking four for 20.

Bairstow said: “It was a great win. Any time that you bowl a team out in a T20, I think that’s some feat. Hats off to the bowlers for executing the skills as well as they did.

“But that wasn’t by any means the perfect game. We’ll go to Edgbaston looking to go better than that as well because naturally there’s some areas that we can improve on.”

England will head to Birmingham for the third encounter in the four-match series on Sunday leading 2-0.

Atkinson’s impressive display came after fellow seamer Brydon Carse shone on his debut in the series opener in Durham on Wednesday.

Bairstow is impressed with the attacking options available.

He said: “The guys that have come into series, Brydon and Gus, making the impact that they have, being so clear on how they want to go about it, I think is a testament to them.

“I think they’re going to play over a period of time for England, there’s no reason why not. Look at the skills that they’ve got.

“If you’ve got two guys that release the ball as high as they do and with as much pace as they have, I think it’s a good weapon.”

New Zealand seamer Adam Milne admitted the game ran away from the tourists during the Bairstow-Brook partnership.

He said: “I thought they were better really. Obviously they had a great partnership, very destructive for the small boundary there.

“They batted really well and it was tough to bowl to them when they’re in that sort of mode. Their line-up is full of quality players and explosive powerful players.”

Savethelastdance and Bluestocking will renew rivalry at York on Thursday with the pair among 10 fillies declared for the Pertemps Network Yorkshire Oaks.

Aidan O’Brien’s Savethelastdance ground out a half-length win over the Ralph Beckett-trained Bluestocking in an attritional renewal of the Irish Oaks at the Curragh a month ago.

The rematch is set to take place on far less demanding ground on the Knavesmire though and there is little between the duo in the market.

Al Husn bids for back-to-back Group One wins for Roger Varian after causing a minor upset in the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood, while Karl Burke fires a twin assault, with Lancashire Oaks heroine Poptronic joined by her stablemate Novakai, who dominated a Listed contest at Newmarket on her latest outing.

John and Thady Gosden will be hoping Free Wind can bounce back to her best after floundering in the Goodwood mud three weeks ago and Rosscarbery is an interesting contender for Paddy Twomey after chasing home Emily Dickinson in the Curragh Cup.

O’Brien’s second string Warm Heart, the William Haggas-trained Sea Silk Road and Stay Alert from Hughie Morrison’s yard complete the quality field.

Day two of the Ebor Festival gets under way with the Sky Bet Lowther Stakes, for which nine juvenile fillies are set to go to post.

Relief Rally is a major contender for the Haggas team after running away with the Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury, while O’Brien runs Cherry Blossom, who could hardly have been more impressive when opening her account at the second attempt at the Curragh.

Star Of Mystery (Charlie Appleby) and Beautiful Diamond (Burke) also feature.

Liam Rosenior believes Ozan Tufan is reaping the rewards his efforts deserve after his hat-trick helped Hull to a 4-2 Championship comeback win at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

The Turkey international was at times unplayable, with his performance – some could say – emblematic of the difference in quality between the two Yorkshire sides.

Rosenior said: “It (the hat-trick) was better than good. He deserves it and I’m so happy for him.

“The reason the quality is there is because the fitness is now there – that sums up his attitude.

“He is working so hard. He’s pressing so hard from the front along with Liam (Delap). And when you work so hard in life, you get the rewards.”

Wednesday were poor, but they somehow took the lead after 36 minutes when Juan Delgado capitalised upon Dominic Iorfa’s low cross via a deflection.

Hully equalised in first-half injury time when Lee Gregory elbowed Jacob Greaves inside the box and – from the resulting spot-kick – Tufan scored an unstoppable penalty.

The Turkey international then stole the show after the interval by firstly scoring a wonderful second from the edge of the penalty area after 58 minutes.

With Wednesday out of ideas and fatigued, Tufan put the game out of sight with a similarly-precise finish with the inside of his right foot.

Substitute Aaron Connolly made it 4-1 after he passed the ball into an open net following Michael Ihiekwe’s poor back-pass.

And though Wednesday substitute Michael Smith added a touch of respectability to the scoreline in stoppage time, Owls fans may have few qualms with the result.

Rosenior: “I’ve got to give the players all the credit in the world – they were fantastic from start to finish.

“They responded brilliantly (from the opening goal) and also by how I want to build as a club.

“In my opinion, it was complete domination from start to finish. That was not a 4-2 win. We should not have conceded a second and it should have been more.

“If you look at us now, we are much fitter and more front-footed as a team.

“We must stay consistent and keep working but there are some really, really positive signs.”

Wednesday have now lost their first two games since gaining promotion from League One.

Manager Xisco Munoz said: “The second half we were very far away from what I want.

“I didn’t see the balance for a consistent performance, but the situation right now is to control emotions.

“We need to control the moments and we need to improve with duels – both in offence and defence.

“We needed to improve on many things, but every day we get better and better and get closer, but we need to find a solution.

“We need to improve about clean sheets and defensive situations, but this is my job. They called me for this situation, and I will give 100 per cent.

“It is my responsibility. The players gave everything, but we now have to improve our tactics and our fitness.”

Munoz, who ironically signed Tufan when in charge at Watford two years ago, added: “We need the balance – this is the situation.

“The first half was closer to the performance we want, but we didn’t do it in the second half.

“The intensity in the second half was the difference. This is one of the situations we need to improve.

“This team has more capacity for attacking, but we need to work very hard about the balance, with more time on the ball and playing higher.

“We need to understand better about what the Championship demands.”

Yorkshire have been fined and docked points in two formats over the club’s “extremely serious” misconduct in relation to the racism experienced by former player Azeem Rafiq.

The club were fined £400,000 – £300,000 of which is suspended for two years – and docked 48 County Championship points and four in the T20 Blast from this season’s competitions by an independent Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) panel after admitting four charges.

Yorkshire released a statement accepting the sanctions. The punishment means Yorkshire drop from sixth to bottom of Division Two in the Championship, all but ending their promotion chances, while they go from fifth to eighth in the North Group of the already-completed 2023 Blast, a competition where they failed to qualify for the knockout stages.

Rafiq initially spoke out in 2020 about the racism and bullying he experienced across two spells at the county, between 2008 and 2014 and between 2016 and 2018. He also gave harrowing testimony about his experiences to the Culture, Media and Sport parliamentary committee in November 2021.

The first charge the county admitted was the mishandling of their response to an independent report prompted by Rafiq’s allegations.

The second related to what the panel found to be the “deliberate” deletion of emails relevant to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) investigation into Yorkshire, the third to their handling of racism complaints more widely and the fourth to a failure to address the “systemic use” of racist and or discriminatory language over a prolonged period, set in the panel findings as being between 2004 and 2021.

“The overall misconduct in this case must be regarded as extremely serious within both the sporting and wider societal contexts,” the CDC panel’s written reasons confirming the sanctions stated.

“The latter of course is not our concern – but the cricketing context is. The gravity lies not just within the nature of the discrimination itself, but because the message must be made clear to all who administer and who play the professional game, and to all those who administer cricket and who play elsewhere, that such conduct is wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

“Complaint is made by Yorkshire that the sanctions which the ECB has asked the panel to consider are more severe than any sanction the CDC has imposed before. Yorkshire are right – in this panel’s experience this is the most serious case in respect of a first-class county which has been brought before the CDC.”

At a sanctions hearing on June 27, Yorkshire had called for any punishments imposed to be suspended. The ECB had called at the same hearing for the CDC to impose a £500,000 fine on Yorkshire, with £350,000 of it suspended.

ECB lawyer Jane Mulcahy said it would be “wholly unproductive” to try to put Yorkshire out of business, with the club having highlighted a £3.5million cash shortfall to members at their annual general meeting back in March, and the need to repay £14.9m to their creditors the Graves Trust.

The panel recognised the “fragile” nature of the club’s finances, but said it would be an “affront” to those who had suffered as a consequence of the breaches Yorkshire had admitted if there was no financial penalty.

On the same day as the sanctions hearing took place, the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) published its damning report which found racism was “entrenched” in the sport.

Regarding the second charge concerning the mass deletion of emails and documents, the panel said it was satisfied the deletions “were both deliberate and were of emails relevant to the investigations being undertaken by both the ECB and internally”.

Yorkshire issued an apology to Rafiq in September 2021, accepting he had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying, but the following month the club said no individual would face disciplinary action over the report’s findings.

The club’s handling of the case led to sponsors deserting in their droves, calls for “heads to roll” at Yorkshire from the then Health Secretary Sajid Javid, and to the ECB withdrawing Yorkshire’s right to host lucrative international matches at Headingley until governance changes were made.

The panel and the ECB recognised the work done to make Yorkshire more inclusive, first by Lord Kamlesh Patel during his time as chair between November 2021 and March of this year, and subsequently by the current leadership.

The panel gave “significant weight” to efforts to remedy past failings but said those changes did not mean sanctions should not be imposed.

“If a company could avoid penalties simply by changing their employees after any wrongdoing, that would undermine the whole premise of corporate responsibility,” the written reasons stated.

“The internal upheavals may amount to some mitigation, albeit brought by the club upon itself, but it cannot render past misconduct incapable of sanction.”

The panel ordered the £100,000 to be paid in equal instalments on January 1, March 1, June 1 and September 1 next year.

Yorkshire accepted the sanctions but said in a statement: “We are disappointed to receive the points deductions which affects players and staff at the club, who were not responsible for the situation.

“They have worked tirelessly on and off the field to rebuild Yorkshire into an inclusive and welcoming club that reflects the communities it serves. Greater clarity over our situation will allow us all now to look ahead.

“There remains much to do, but we have made significant investments to put in place best practice processes and procedures, as well as driving equity, diversity and inclusion through a new framework and taking important steps to improve the matchday experience to encourage greater inclusivity and tackle discrimination.

“We look forward to continued dialogue with the ECB to ensure the financial penalty does not hinder our ongoing commitment to build on the strong foundations that have been laid.”

ECB chief executive Richard Gould added: “These were serious charges relating to racism over a prolonged period.

“There can be no place for racism in our game, and the penalties announced by the Cricket Discipline Commission mark the end of a thorough disciplinary process.

“No one should have to experience what Azeem Rafiq went through in cricket, and we once again thank him for his courage in speaking out.”

Rafiq has been approached for comment.

Yorkshire have been hit with points deductions in two formats and fined £400,000 over the racism scandal linked to their former player Azeem Rafiq.

A Cricket Discipline Commission panel said £300,000 of the fine imposed had been suspended for a period of two years.

The club have also immediately been docked 48 points from their County Championship total, and a further four from their tally in the T20 Blast.

Yorkshire, who had admitted four charges following the conclusion of an England and Wales Cricket Board investigation, released a statement confirming they accepted the sanctions.

Yorkshire chief executive Stephen Vaughan hopes to secure the club’s financial future within a matter of weeks, but admits he had to “kiss a lot of frogs” before finding a suitable investor.

The county owes the Graves Family Trust nearly £15million and also faces a hefty fine following a CDC investigation into historic racism, with Vaughan working on refinancing the debt ever since he took over in November.

Former chair Colin Graves angrily withdrew his own interest in returning after claiming he had been treated as a “last resort”, while former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, backers of IPL franchise Delhi Capitals and Prince Badr of Saudi Arabia are among a long list of those linked with Yorkshire.

Others from India and the UK have also been involved in talks and, with an initial £500,000 payment to the Graves Trust due in September, Vaughan is confident a deal is close.

But he also admitted the process had been far from straightforward.

“We’ve spoken to a lot of people. In these situations you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs,” he said.

“I really did kiss a lot of frogs, I carry Lipsil around with me I’ve kissed so many. Hopefully (we’ve found a prince), but not the Saudi prince we were reported to have met. We don’t remember that one!

“It was always going to be a very difficult time to attract a traditional financier in the UK. The club’s brand equity wasn’t as high as it could have been because we were in the news for the wrong reasons.

“But we’re now at a place where we’ve got a bedfellow we’re working with. It’s not a takeover, not a buyout, it’s an investor coming in to ensure we can move on and continue our journey.

“We’re hoping in weeks rather than months we’ll be able to announce we’re getting something done. These things are always full of legal conversations, lawyers to lawyers, and you’re only as fast as your slowest runner in the race.

“We’ve got to start a new chapter for Yorkshire. We want to be unapologetically modern and progressive.”

Vaughan explained that the market interest in the club had been huge, but most were looking for an outright controlling stake that Yorkshire were unwilling, and unable, to offer.

“We could have sold Yorkshire cricket 15 times over,” he said.

“It wouldn’t even have to go on the market. Everyone wants a piece of Yorkshire cricket, but we’re a members’ co-operative and the dynamic changes dramatically.

“You go from dozens of organisations saying ‘how much can we pay for Yorkshire cricket, we’re desperate to buy it’, to explaining that it’s not an equity play, it’s a loan. That takes out 99% of the market immediately.”

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