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Tom Kohler-Cadmore signs for Somerset as Yorkshire exodus intensifies

Significant blow to club in wake of racism scandal as senior batter decides to move on

David Hopps
David Hopps
Tom Kohler-Cadmore drives through the covers  •  Getty Images

Tom Kohler-Cadmore drives through the covers  •  Getty Images

Yorkshire are bracing themselves for a potential exodus of leading players after the announcement that Tom Kohler-Cadmore has been released from the final year of his contract and will join Somerset at the end of the season.
Kohler-Cadmore's departure comes less than a week after their England all-rounder and T20 captain, David Willey, abruptly broke off contractual negotiations to rejoin Northamptonshire, complaining that the racism furore within the club had made his "work environment unsettling".
Yorkshire will stage the Headingley Test this week after a reconstituted Board convinced the ECB that they were taking their responsibilities on diversity seriously following the furore caused by Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations.
But despite the unceasing efforts of their interim MD of cricket, Darren Gough, and head coach, Ottis Gibson, to create a positive environment, resentment still runs high within the dressing room about the manner in which the entire coaching staff were sacked en bloc when the public outcry was at its height.
The need for Yorkshire to win hearts and minds - not within the ECB, nor with public opinion, but within the confines of their own dressing room - could not be starker. The need is to sell the idea of a New Yorkshire and what that culture looks like. If that proves to be impossible then there could be considerable transfer activity around the club, both in and out, over the next year or so.
Kohler-Cadmore, who has joined Somerset on a three-year deal, was always one of the likeliest to depart. His father, Mick, acted as a Headingley dressing room attendant, and he walked out in protest at the mass sackings. He has missed much of the season because of delayed concussion after being struck in the nets by his team-mate Pat Brown, during the Pakistan Super League.
Gough said: "Having been in discussions with Tom over the last few months, it has become clear that this opportunity for him to join Somerset is one he would very much like to take. I'd like to thank him for his significant contributions to the Club over the last six years and wish him all the best for his future."
Unlike Willey, Kohler-Cadmore did not depart with a barb at the club - as he has been released from his contract, that was never going to happen. "I'm very grateful to Darren Gough for his understanding in allowing me to pursue an opportunity elsewhere and have enjoyed my time at Headingley," was his official remark.
Kohler-Cadmore is a big loss. A former Wisden Schoolboy cricketer of the Year and England Lions batter, he has developed more successfully in the white-ball formats, where he has been in global demand, and a first-class average of 32 is respectable enough, although declining. He also keeps wicket - and Somerset's options in this area are uncertain with Tom Banton out of contract at the end of the season and Steve Davies' deal ending a year later. The England U-19 batter/keeper, James Rew, is also highly thought of.
Somerset director of cricket, Andy Hurry, said: "We are delighted to have been able to secure the services of such a talented batter who is driven to playing at the highest level. His record speaks for itself across all formats, and he will bring a wealth of experience from his time within the English domestic game plus from the time that he's spent in global competitions around the world."
Yorkshire have adopted a softly-softly approach with their playing staff, hoping that wounds will heal and that they will begin to appreciate the broader perspective: that the club had to change its approach to protect its reputation, respond to the errors of the past and ensure a supportive environment and fair development pathways for players of all races.
But personal relationships, especially for young players, are often more powerful. The sackings of some lesser-known figures not centrally involved in the debate, such as Kunwar Bansil, a highly-popular physio, who is now at Nottinghamshire, and Peter Sim, a former strength and conditioning coach, are thought to have left Willey and Kohler-Cadmore particularly aggrieved.
Yorkshire will take comfort from the fact that the first two players to leave are imported players, not developed within the county pathways, and they will hope to build a more powerful sense of loyalty elsewhere. They are also primarily white-ball orientated, by accident or design, so have had limited value in the Championship.
That said, it remains an enormous challenge for Yorkshire, and their chairman Lord Patel, to plot a route out of the biggest crisis in Yorkshire's history and the danger is that a newly-constituted independent Board, whilst offering an impressive array of talent across a variety of fields, will not be close enough to the day-to-day tensions to find a remedy.
There is also no certainty about how long Gough will remain at Yorkshire. He suspended a lucrative career as a talkSPORT pundit to come to Yorkshire's rescue and has thrown himself into the role with huge enthusiasm, but his appointment was initially presented as a temporary solution.
With at least two other influential players uncertain where their future lies, and rival counties jostling to make offers, Yorkshire's attempts to build something better, and more enlightened, from the wreckage, remains a colossal undertaking.
While they set their mind to that, Yorkshire, along with seven past players and coaches, also face ECB charges of bringing the game into disrepute. They are likely to plead guilty, at least largely so, to what a new regime regards as historical failures, but the affair could hang over them all winter.

David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps