Darren Gough's return to Yorkshire as captain has been confirmed during a press conference at Headingley. He has signed a two-year deal with the club with a clause to leave after one depending on how the 2007 season goes.
Gough has spent the last three years playing for Essex, where he was carefully managed and only turned out in a limited number of Championship matches. However, the offer of captaincy at his home club where his career started in 1989 was too good to refuse.
"I thought it would never happen," he said, "to be back as Yorkshire captain and there are exciting things happening at this club. The Academy is getting better and better, there are new players from overseas and everyone has a good chance for good performances."
In typically Gough style he was bullish about the future: "I love the game, and if I didn't I wouldn't play. I'm not like that, I'm Darren Gough, I'm different, I love the game. And when I finish this contract I'll being playing for some club team. I love a challenge at my age. I'm not looking for a quick fix. This is biggest challenge apart from the dancing."
After years of underachievement since winning the Championship title in 2001, Gough said he wants to make it like the old days at Headingley. "We had lots of fun and lots of discipline, but when ten players leave over six years something isn't right. I want to bring back some fun."
However, he admits it will be hard to play every game throughout the season. "Realistically, every match will be difficult. But last year I missed only two games before my injury [playing against Pakistan]. I'm totally confident in the players I've got. I'm there as a leader and to instill enthusiasm. The Academy's got some great players and I'm excited."
Essex chief executive, David East, said: "It is with regret that Darren has decided to leave after we initially had high hopes over the winter that he would sign a new contract with the club. As is widely acknowledged, Darren's ties to Yorkshire are strong and we understand his desire to return to play for his county of birth."
Yorkshire have been through a turbulent winter which has seen Chris Adams initially take an offer to lead the side only to withdraw weeks later. Then Anthony McGrath announced his decision to leave, despite being in contract and given a captaincy offer, and his case is now in the hands of lawyers and will be heard at Lord's on Friday. "McGrath is someone I respect," said Gough, "I played against and with him. He'd be a great player to have with me and hopefully he'll still be a Yorkshire player next year. I've spoken to him, but it's his decision."
They are also in the process of appointing a new coach with Allan Donald, Paul Grayson and Martyn Moxon all believed to be in the race to replace David Byas. Added to this there was the loss of Michael Lumb to Hampshire, leaving the side in disarray for much of the winter.
However, slowly there have been the first steps of rebuilding with Younis Khan signed as an overseas player and Matthew Elliott acting as cover during the World Cup. They have also secured Jacques Rudolph on a three-year Kolpak deal. Gough's signature brings a reasonable appearance to a bowling attack which includes Jason Gillespie, Tim Bresnan and Deon Kruis.