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May 4, 2012
Colin Graves, whose uncompromising approach to leadership was made abundantly clear this week when he told Ajmal Shahzad that his Yorkshire career was over, is strengthening his day-to-day involvement with Yorkshire.
Graves will take up the role of executive chairman, an amalgamation of his existing role as chairman and the vacant chief executive post which will now not be advertised as planned. A county that takes pride in its preference for straight talking will now get a lot more of it.
Yorkshire's financial survival has been largely dependent upon the generosity of Graves, who sold the last of his shares in Costcutter in November last year, a business he grew from scratch in 1986 into a national chain of supermarkets.
He was offered the role of non-executive chairman at Costcutter, but has opted instead to become more hands on at Headingley. A more driven and demanding management style is now inevitable and Yorkshire, mired in debt and short off on-field success, needs as much energy and focus as it can get.
Graves has been a board director at Yorkshire since 2002 when, as a member of the so-called Gang of Four, he assumed control of the club's finances, which were in a dire position. Since then the ground has been upgraded, although in the case of the new pavilion controversially, and international cricket has been secured in a long-term deal.
He will now work in a full-time capacity at Headingley in a salaried position and also retains his position on the ECB management board..
Graves said: "I'm excited about taking on the joint role of chief executive and chairman at the Club. I've resigned as chairman of Costcutter and sold my shares and it was time to leave that business and look for pastures new. I've been more involved over the last few months and really enjoyed it.
"There are ups and downs, as in any business, but we've now got a solid base and platform with international cricket at Headingley under our staging agreement with the ECB until 2019. Consequently we've got a robust business model to take forward, but there are some areas we can improve in and I'm looking forward to working hard to steer the club forward."
Under Graves, Yorkshire are unlikely to indulge in too much soft focus and his uncompromising management style will be depicted in some quarters as a throwback. But strong, day-to-day leadership in Yorkshire cricket has often been lacking as the county has repeatedly failed to punch its worth and will benefit from a clear sense of where the real authority lies.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?