Yorkshire finally end title drought

Glamorgan 223 and 245 Yorkshire 580-8 dec Yorkshire win by an innings and 112 runs
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The Independent Online

Simon Jones took 28 off Darren Lehmann's second over of the day, including four sixes, one of which went whistling past the top corner of the press box: another landed on the balcony of the pavilion. Lehmann's next over was going the same way – 4, 6, 6 – when Glamorgan's last man got a top edge and the ball, instead of flying over midwicket, scurried off over deep point where David Byas, sprinting from slip, held the ball, then flung it exuberantly upwards to signal Yorkshire's first Championship since 1968.

The time was 12 minutes past midday and the first drops of rain were falling. The captain's luck had lasted to the end.

Rain had been Glamorgan's one hope. They restarted 215 behind with four wickets standing and lost Andrew Davis and Dean Cosker to Steve Kirby with 20 added. Adrian Dale had played a captain's innings and with cloud lowering, Byas opted to buy wickets.

Steve Watkin was defeated by Lehmann's arm ball whereupon Jones, with an eye to the theatre provided by a 4,000 crowd, gave the match a carnival finish. Admission was free, but this being a Yorkie crowd some wanted to know whether there would be a refund if it rained.

It rained all afternoon, but not before history was made and hearts went out to Byas. He is the total opposite of the modern media-hyped sporting personality; he is a laconic, wind-burned, East Riding livestock farmer who plays cricket rather well. His nickname "Bingo" was bestowed upon him by David Bairstow in 1986 because this tall, powerful left-hander arrived from Scarborough, with its ambience of neon lights and amusement parlours. That he was not the flashy gambler the nickname suggested was a joke: he said little and kept to himself.

He became a prolific No 3, following another East Riding left-hander farmer, Vic Wilson, who also won the championship. Byas was the club's best slip fielder since Philip Sharpe and when he was appointed captain in 1996 no one argued with his ability, but could he handle the public duties of a Yorkshire captain, dealing with a notoriously fragmented committee and a relentlessly probing media?

Life on those windswept fields around Driffield probably makes such matters fairly trivial. Byas applied himself, just as he had when various wrinkles in his batting technique had to be ironed out or when his tactics and field settings were barracked. He answered all the questions and no one has accused him of telling a lie. It is not easy for him, he tends to gabble before a camera, a microphone or a tape recorder, but he means what he says. When he marched with the Countryside Alliance down Whitehall he wore his county cap and blazer so that no one should doubt who he was and what he stood for.

Two years ago in the club's yearbook, he predicted: "We are on the verge of winning something and once we do that I believe there will not be a team in the land to touch us."

His predecessor Martyn Moxon had restored harmony to a turbulent dressing-room. Byas sensed that many of that team thought that winning the county cap was an end. He told them it was only the start and he gave Yorkshire a cutting edge again.

Yorkshire had the reputation on the county's circuit of "bottling it", losing seven semi-finals in 12 years. It will be to Byas's everlasting satisfaction that the trophy he has won is the big one, Yorkshire's 33rd, 31st or 30th championship depending upon which book you consult. Byas believes Yorkshire would probably have won it last year had he not lost four players to central contracts. This time while England's demands and a long list of injuries to fast bowlers handicapped the team, the new wave of players meant the side marched on.

The arrival of a title-winning coach in Wayne Clark gave them a sense of direction. Lehmann hit even greater heights. Matthew Wood's return as a substantial opener, fast bowler Steve Kirby's astonishing beginning and the emergence of Richard Dawson as an off-spinner of genuine class fortified the team in its weakest areas. Craig White returned to international form when released by England, and the team's authority grew match by match.

The testing time came this month when Yorkshire had to play Lancashire twice and meet Surrey. Lancashire were routed home and away and Surrey would have suffered a similar fate had rain not taken 20 overs from the last day. Even when Byas delayed declarations in order to ensure that Yorkshire would not have to bat again the weather held off long enough for the victories to be completed.

Perhaps Bingo wasn't such an absurd nickname.