On the day that Geoff Boycott was appointed Yorkshire president a batsman originally cast in a similar mould was named as the county’s new vice-captain.
Just as Boycott once cast off his shackles to score a fluent match-winning century in a Gillette Cup final, Joe Sayers has had to expand his strokeplay to meet the increasing demands of one-day cricket.
The 28-year-old opener was confirmed as Andrew Gale’s deputy at the club’s annual meeting, having taken over the reins with some success when Gale was injured at the end of last season.
As a former Oxford University captain, Sayers has long been seen as a potential Yorkshire skipper, but his career was badly interrupted by Post Viral Fatigue Syndrome, which laid him low for the best part of a year.
Although he made a successful return last season, he is still not assured of a place in a top order which will feature Phil Jaques this season. The Australian will open with either Sayers, Joe Root or Adam Lyth. If all four play, with Gale and Jonny Bairstow to follow, there can be no room for Anthony McGrath.
Whatever the line-up, Sayers is delighted to take on his new role, saying: “I’m grateful to have it. I think it’s a good step forward for the team because we didn’t have a vice-captain last season.”
But he doesn’t want to be involved in selection, adding: “I think as a vice-captain it’s important to not be involved in picking the team. That allows players to communicate via myself and feel safe in doing that.”
Boycott, meanwhile, succeeded Ray Illingworth in the two-year term as president by gaining 91 per cent of the votes and immediately insisted the team must win promotion this season.
He wants Yorkshire to ensure they go into 2013 – their 150th anniversary – with a chance of winning the LV County Championship.
“Yorkshire have to get promoted this year,” Boycott told the AGM. “It has to be uppermost in everyone’s minds. In our anniversary year we should be striving to win the Championship. We can’t do that in the second division.
“It’s all right talking about potential and the amount of good young players we have, but those players have to perform. Last year some of them didn’t perform; they let themselves down and they let the club down.”
A controversial figure in his playing days, the appointment of 71-year-old Boycott was opposed by some former players such as Bob Appleyard and Richard Hutton. But it drew loud approval from the 400-strong audience.
“The presidency is a wonderful honour for me,” said Boycott. “Yorkshire cricket has been my life, it means a hell of a lot.
“I don’t deliberately go out of my way to cause controversy or to upset anyone, but I won’t apologise for putting my beliefs and views forward because I think I know what I am talking about.”
Boycott’s place on the board was taken by former England captain Michael Vaughan.