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Yorkshire cricket has a number of stalwarts embedded in the game that share names with famous cricketers, past and present. There’s David Warner; the esteemed cricket journalist and also Ian Chappell, who recently retired as Yorkshire Cricket Board Chief Executive.
Cricket Boards hold a strange position to many within recreational cricket. Your average player will never really come into contact with them directly as such and yet they govern the game, below first-class level, overseeing it and championing its many forms.
When Cricket Yorkshire began four years ago, a partnership with the Yorkshire Cricket Board was top of the agenda. In a county (or strictly speaking four counties but actual boundaries and cricketing jurisdictional boundaries are not the same), the YCB is involved with a monumental programme of cricket involving tens of thousands of people.
It’s been a privilege to get to know those that occupy the ground-floor office of the East Stand and Ian Chappell has been central in its operation. A visit to the YCB office involved a seat in Ian’s office for meetings; his desk awash with paper but it was uncanny how he was seemingly able to call upon any single printout at any given notice.
Early on in our conversations, it became clear there was common ground on certain issues within the game and clearly a shared passion for cricket. The YCB’s loss is North Leeds Cricket Club’s gain where Ian returns to the grassroots scene and will doubtless continue to make an impact.
He knew what game at any age group was happening when and where (and probably still does) in a way that never failed to amaze. It seems almost lazily remiss to state that there is a (welcome) torrent of cricket played at any one time across Yorkshire during each summer – and by contrast, I rely on the internet and any number of handbooks to attempt to keep track.
After being at the epicentre of Yorkshire cricket for 29 years, there’s more than a few career threads to untangle but for those that like their stories to come full circle, Ian’s first connection to the game was as a tinboy at North Leeds CC; collecting funds aged just seven.
As well as being the current President of the Club who play their cricket in the Aire Wharfe League on the outskirts of Roundhay Park in Leeds, he held other positions within the club – as many volunteers do at clubs everywhere – in Ian’s case, as Secretary from 1969-77.
Teaching dominated Ian’s professional life for some 34 years at Roundhay School and A-Level History and Politics was, for a long time, the accompaniment to a substantial commitment to cricket administration.
There’s also a journalism link we share. At weekends, Ian worked as a freelance sports reporter with BBC Radio Leeds; becoming the longest serving (1980-2011) freelance sports reporter on local cricket and rugby union, finishing as producer and presenter of the Local Cricket Saturday programme.
Radio is an entirely different beast to hammering away on the keyboard and publishing online and having done radio interviews and listened in to the soothing tones of Dave Callaghan and Kevin Howells, those that master radio have my unquavering respect.
Ian Chappell has been integral to the Yorkshire Cricket Board from its inception; becoming its first Secretary in 1996, and then from 2008, the full time Chief Executive giving 18 years’ service to the YCB.
Philip Radcliffe, Chairman of the Yorkshire Cricket Board, perhaps put it as best as anyone when he paid this tribute: ‘Words alone cannot describe the true value of Ian’s immense contribution to the Board and to cricket.’
There are many servants of cricket across Yorkshire in one form or another and they all deserve acknowledging. I still hope one day to make it along to Ian’s Club to take part in or watch the annual Boxing Day cricket match in aid of charity and would encourage you, if you’re local enough, to consider a post-Christmas walk to take in a spot of cricket out of season.
Ian was at the helm of the YCB when I first began Cricket Yorkshire and approached him to sound out a possible collaboration. He saw the value in the website and the journalism and stories that I unearth in recreational cricket; I’m proud and grateful for that show of faith.
So, warm wishes to Ian in retirement – his role is being swallowed up by the existing team – and I look forward to working with the YCB in the future; writing about women’s cricket, the Yorkshire Terriers disability squad and the game in South Asian communities.