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"A year to remember" for Yorkshire's glory boys
“It’s been a year to remember for Yorkshire cricket.”
That was the message from executive chairman Colin Graves after the Tykes ended their LV= County Championship campaign in style with a 239-run win over Essex.
Although it wasn’t quite enough to win the division two title, thanks to Derbyshire’s victory over Hampshire, the success at Chelmsford means Yorkshire have gone through the Championship campaign unbeaten for the first time since 1928.
“I’m delighted for the guys,” added Graves amid jubilant promotion celebrations. “They’ve responded fantastically well since relegation and to achieve what we have this year is great. We had a long way to climb but we’ve done it.”
In many ways, the praise from Graves sums up Yorkshire’s change in fortunes in 2012.
It was this time last year the multi-millionaire businessman, who bankrolls the club, called his players a “disgrace” following relegation and asked them to take “a long, hard look at themselves”. They’ve clearly heeded his advice, with this victory over Essex providing further proof of how far the county have come.
Yorkshire resumed the final day with work to do with the home side on 28-2 in pursuit of 388 for victory, before taking the eight wickets they needed in just over 40 overs of play.
Azeem Rafiq was the star of the show to finish with career-best figures of 5-50, while Steven Patterson claimed three wickets and Moin Ashraf one.
It was Patterson who started the ball rolling when he removed Tom Craddock for five, before Rafiq began to work his magic.
Mark Pettini was his first victim thanks to a stunning one-handed catch by Gary Ballance at leg-slip, with three more Essex batsmen falling to the off-spinner before the close.
It was the perfect end to a superb individual performance from Rafiq, whose five-wicket haul came after he’d also scored 128 runs in two innings with the bat.
Graham Napier was his final wicket to leave the home side on 135-8, before Patterson returned to end the game in emphatic style with two wickets in as many balls.
Graves added: “Last year I was so disappointed with where we ended up, and so were the players.
“I said what a lot of people were thinking but it had to be said. If it gave them a spur then I’m glad because this just proves we had the ability to do what we’ve done. The players have responded and I’m pleased for them.”
“The t20 finals day was a fantastic experience and the Champions League will be great experience for the guys. If someone had told me in March we were going to do this then I would have settled for it. It has been a cracking season.”
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