Byas steps up at Yorkshire

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David Byas, 32, the tall left-handed No 3 batsman, was yesterday appointed Yorkshire's 29th county captain in succession to Martyn Moxon.

Byas has been vice-captain for two years. A North Yorkshire farmer with a natural authority, he will hope to be as successful as Yorkshire's last left-handed leader from the old East Riding, Vic Wilson. The Australian Michael Bevan's natural aggressiveness made him another candidate, but in the end the committee went for stability and tradition. Lord Hawke is the only Yorkshire captain born outside of the county.

The committee were aware of rumblings among members after another summer of promise had collapsed in almost un-nerving fashion. A Benson and Hedges quarter-final, a Nat-West semi-final and a fifth place in the Championship seemed a reasonable advance on 1994, but two defeats in the final weeks shook the club. Surrey won a match at The Oval, by one run, in bizarre circumstances and Essex won at Chelmsford after being apparently well beaten at the start of play.

On both occasions Yorkshire's batting collapsed in a fashion almost unknown in their 132-year history. Moxon was especially stung by media suggestions that "Yorkshire have no bottle". Despite twice breaking the same thumb, Moxon headed the national averages for most of the season.

That the committee were prepared to act came with the news that Simon Kellett, Paul Grayson, Bradley Parker and Stuart Milburn were to be released. The bombshell came 12 days ago when Yorkshire announced that Moxon had resigned and that Brian Close, chairman of the cricket committee during Moxon's six-year reign, had gone with him.

In fact, the events were not connected. Moxon felt, after failing to win a trophy in his time, that he wished to be free of the weight of expectation. "I just want to enjoy my cricket again," he told a friend.

After a vigorous debate in the cricket committee, Close considered he, too, had carried the burden long enough. He has been replaced by Bob Platt, a Huddersfield businessman and once Fred Trueman's new-ball partner. Platt is sure to be a more "hands-on" chairman, just as Byas is certain to be a harder leader. Byas said last night: "My priority is to get Yorkshire back on top."