RAJESH KUMAR - Cricket Statisticians
The War of The White Roses

The War of The White Roses Yorkshire Cricket's Civil War, 1968-1986 by Stuart Rayner

Published by Pitch Publishing Ltd.

Web: pitchpublishing.co.uk

Hardback: 320
RRP: Sterling Pounds 17.99
ISBN 978 1 78531 116 1

Stuart Rayner's first book is a history of Yorkshire Cricket over the period between 1968 and 1986. Yorkshire County Cricket Club was the dominant force in English cricket in 1968 and yet by 1986 it had slid to become one of the game's also-rans.

The War of the White Roses tells the story in full from a completely neutral perspective for the first time.  It tells us how two decades of fierce infighting caused so much damage it took almost 30 years to recapture those past glories.

The period from 1968 to 1986, according to the author, was scarred by bitterness, pettiness and jealousy as civil war broke out with one of the county's greatest-ever players, the brilliant but divisive Geoffrey Boycott, invariably at the centre of the story. He is just one of the many interviewees to contribute from both sides of the divide, looking at the personal feuds and political machinations of the period, and examining how they contributed to the team's fall from grace.

The War of the White Roses examines how and why the all-conquering team of the 1960s was broken up and why it took Yorkshire decades to recover; why captain Geoffrey Boycott's on-field success did not translate into team silverware or personal popularity; how concerns about his Yorkshire future contributed to Boycott's three-year England exile; how an extraordinary protest from John Hampshire cost Yorkshire a victory yet earned him the captaincy; the story of how Boycott was suspended for breaching a contract clause which never existed; why a 51-year-old Ray Illingworth was sacked after captaining Yorkshire to a first major trophy in 14 years; what inspired a group of ordinary fans to overthrow the club's ruling committee; how combining playing with sitting on the committee hastened the end of Boycott's career and why Boycott's last game of cricket was like his final England appearance - unhappy and unannounced.

According to Stuart Rayner, tough situations in the middle generally brought the best out of Boycott but sometimes encouraged his worst character traits. When batting, caution was his natural response to pressure - from good bowling, high expectations, testing conditions, poor form or reduced fitness. Where some would take the mentally softer but often effective option of counter-attacking to try and break the shackles, he would simply work harder. It was an approach he encouraged youngsters to follow in his 1982 coaching manual Master Class.

Chris Waters, in his foreword, has remarked: "It has taken a long time for Yorkshire to recapture past glories, but the club is now threatening a period of dominance not seen since the calamitous chain of managerial decisions that triggered the civil war in the first place.  The club has ridden some stormy seas since 1968, and although it will always be a hotbed of passionate debate, it has lately got back to doing what it once did best - winning County  Championships.  Everyone who loves Yorkshire County Cricket Club will at least agree that is a good thing."

The book, with excellent photos, is reasonably priced - a good buy for anyone who has followed Geoff Boycott's stint with Yorkshire.