I returned to Yorkshire for the first time this week for our top-of-the-table County Championship match - which was supposed to start yesterday but was sadly washed out - since doing a U-turn over the captaincy in the winter. As I arrived in Leeds on Thursday at 11pm it was pouring down, as it was all day yesterday, and it reminded me of when I first drove through the rather unappealing streets of Headingley after accepting the post over the phone. It was a dark November evening, we were bumper to bumper in rush-hour traffic, and I looked in my rear-view mirror and saw my kids in the back looking mortified.
My heart sank and the gloom of the reality of leaving Sussex descended on me. It was one of the significant moments. The next day I was doing a press conference but two weeks later I was saying, "Thanks, but no thanks".
The main reason for my decision was the job description. It wasn't right for me: the combination of the captaincy, playing and management was too big for one person. There are times when you have too much self-confidence - especially when you are being flattered by a huge club and being offered a tidy salary - and I thought I could run the whole operation. But in the end I couldn't see myself making it work, given all that was going on at the club.
Yorkshire were looking to create a position of yesteryear: a captain who could run the show. It worked 20 years ago but the game has developed at an alarming rate with scientific input, advanced physiotherapy and the like. For example, this week at Sussex we underwent brain tests to see how quickly our minds accept and process information.
It is vital to have one man to oversee the whole operation: a director of cricket so that the captain's responsibilities can be tactical issues, motivation and selection. So, the structure they have now is spot on, with Martyn Moxon as director of cricket and Darren Gough as captain; two brilliant appointments. I'm delighted for Yorkshire - they're challenging for honours like a huge county should be - and for Goughy, and have kept in touch with him telling him to keep up the good work.
Another factor was my love for Sussex. It was breaking my heart to be leaving. We had just won the double and I decided it was right to finish my playing days in their shirt. While I wasn't born in the county it will always be in my blood. The whole Yorkshire saga forced that home.
There were a lot of other factors but I've put the episode to bed now and I believe that I kept my dignity throughout. I could have listed the reasons but it would have opened up a can of worms. I put myself and my family first, and if I upset anyone at Yorkshire then I'm sorry.
Fletcher earned respect
Rather topically, I received a letter this week from an angry Yorkshireman having a pop at me for something that previously appeared in these pages. I wrote that Duncan Fletcher deserved as much credit for what he had done for English cricket - winning the Ashes and bringing in the subsequent increased revenue, developing the national team etc - as Geoffrey Boycott, of these shires, and Ian Botham, two legends of the game, who had gone into media work as soon as their playing careers were at an end and put nothing back into the English game.
But I must point outthat the column wasn't about either Boycott or Botham, but about Fletcher and how he deserved a huge amount of respect. Boycott was, without doubt, one of the greatest technical batsmen and I love to hear him commentate on techniques. Botham was a boyhood hero and he is a large part of the reason I love playing the game. And, while he will never be England coach, he is the epitome of English cricket.
However, these two survived in a different era when a team was very much run by a captain. Now cricket is much more a coach's environment and he deserves the plaudits when a team is successful. He is responsible for all aspects of the team's preparation and training. It is reflected by coaches being paid fortunes around the world.
I know Boycott has been enlisted for advice by England down the years, as has Botham, but essentially they make their money now from television companies, which is fine, but Fletcher deserves his praise, too.
The Bob Woolmer saga is a sensitive subject and the reality seems to be that the police handled it badly. The announcement that Bob was murdered had a terrible impact on the World Cup and the lives of many people associated with it.
Hopefully, the new verdict of natural death will allow our spinner Mushtaq Ahmed and the Pakistan squad to keep their dignity after many weeks of scrutiny. Mushtaq, who was in the Caribbean as assistant coach, was under immense media pressure out there and it must have been so stressful. Only now is he starting to look like he is back, the old Mushy, with that sparkle about him that shows how much he loves the game.
I have one story about Bob that dates back to the early days of my partnership with Peter Moores at Sussex. Recognising the need occasionally to switch off from cricket we used to have the odd night out and impose fines on players or coaches for minor transgressions. Our head of social was Mark Robinson, now our first-team coach, and he would gather suggested punishments for the miscreant to endure.
On one occasion when we were playing at Edgbaston the sinner was Moores himself. I can't remember the crime but I can the punishment: he was not allowed to speak to Woolmer, then the coach of Warwickshire, for the whole day's play the next day. So, in the morning Pete and me walked past Bob. "Hello Chris," he says. "Hi, Bob," I reply. "Hello, Pete," Bob adds. Nothing.
Pete, believing in the importance of the social bonding of a team, carried it through until he finally cracked around teatime when Bob was starting to get pretty angry with him!
We earned a fantastic win over Hampshire last weekend that puts us right in the mix at the top of the table. It was a tough game with some great cricket and we were relieved to come out on top. On the Saturday Hampshire dug in and John Crawley hung about for four hours for his 40.
On Wednesday we played our final Friends Provident game at Lord's. It was a great win over Middlesex and, although we missed out on the semis, it was the perfect way to finish our campaign. It will give a young side a confidence boost for the forthcoming Twenty20 games.
Bittersweet for Georgia
It was a bittersweet weekend for Georgia. She had her sportsday on Saturday morning where she took part in the long jump only to twist a knee and have to sit out the rest of her events. Sophie, our eight-year-old, came fourth in the 400 metres - she was delighted especially as the girls' house went on to win the day.
It was not such a good afternoon for Georgia, though. She played for her Sussex Under-13 team, twisted knee and all, against Kent and made 12 as her side lost their last six wickets while needing only 13 to win. A shocking collapse!
Great Sledging Fifth in a series
A few years ago we were playing Glamorgan and they came up with an unusual method of trying to unsettle the opposition: speaking mainly in Welsh. We had Tony Cottee on our side who reliably informed us that most of what was being said was utter rubbish. We looked like winning and Jason Lewry came running in and bowled Robert Croft, Glamorgan's chief sledger, with a beauty. As Croft was walking off, Mark Robinson ran past him and said: "Now that's out in any language!"Reuse content