Darren Gough has emerged as a surprise candidate to take over as director of cricket at Yorkshire following confirmation on Friday of Sportsmail‘s exclusive story that the club’s coaching staff have been sacked.
Gough, 51, who has forged a successful media career, notably as a sports presenter and cricket analyst on talkSPORT, has retained ambitions to coach since retiring in 2008.
Having spent 15 years on the playing staff at Headingley across two spells, the former England fast bowler is understood to be viewed by the new Yorkshire hierarchy, led by chairman Lord Patel, as the kind of character the club require as a figurehead.
Darren Gough has emerged as a candidate to take over as director of cricket at Yorkshire
Gough (centre) has forged a successful media career, notably as a sports presenter and cricket analyst on talkSPORT
Crucially, perhaps, he has an excellent relationship with Azeem Rafiq, the whistleblower whose allegations of institutional racism led to sweeping changes at Yorkshire. The pair both come from Barnsley and Gough offered Rafiq support earlier this year after his revelations came to light.
Gough’s ability to inspire, as both a unifying force and as one of Yorkshire’s most successful internationals, appears to make him the ideal fit despite his lack of experience and time out of the game.
His arrival would represent the first step of a complete rebuild of the cricket department.
Director of cricket Martyn Moxon and first-team coach Andrew Gale were the highest-profile casualties of the 16 sackings, which included all senior coaches plus a six-strong physio and medical team. Yorkshire now face the threat of legal claims after the ‘significant change’, which Lord Patel deemed necessary ‘to regain trust’.
He is viewed by Lord Patel as the kind of character the club require as a figurehead going forward
Gough has retained an excellent relationship with Azeem Rafiq, the whistleblower who made allegations of institutional racism at the club
The decisions, he said, ‘were difficult to make but are in the best interests of the club’.
He added: ‘Without making important changes to how we are run, we cannot move on from the past to become a culture which is progressive and inclusive. We want to make Yorkshire a place for everyone, from all backgrounds. To do this, we need to rebuild our culture and instil positive values. We are determined to learn from the mistakes of the past to become a club which people can trust.
‘We have a huge rebuilding job to do but we are confident that this heralds a step forward towards a brighter future.’
None of the first-team squad have faced sanction, although the revelation of the mass departures was said by one source to have caused emotional chaos among the players.
Martyn Moxon and Andrew Gale both left Yorkshire in the wake of the racism scandal
Long-serving director of cricket Moxon had been signed off due to a stress-related illness
Some are understood to feel so upset about developments that they were considering their own futures on Friday — a large number are in Australia, either representing England, England Lions or playing grade cricket.
Insiders say it is no coincidence the blood-letting has included all of those who signed a letter sent to the club’s executives, expressing their distress that they were facing unfair attacks and challenging the perceived failure to stand up to Rafiq’s ‘mission to bring down the club’.
The letter was also critical of the apologies made to Rafiq after an investigation upheld seven of his 43 allegations of racism and bullying during his two spells at the club.
Head coach Gale was suspended last month for a historic offensive tweet, and is now gone
Former England fast bowler Gough has retained ambitions to coach since retiring in 2008
Now, with the 16 losing their jobs without pay-offs, Yorkshire potentially face a raft of unfair or wrongful dismissal claims.
Yorkshire are saddled with huge debts which touched £19million at the start of the year and can ill afford further financial hits.
As part of ECB sanctions in relation to Rafiq’s claims, they have been suspended as hosts of international cricket. It followed a mass exodus of sponsors. The combination of the two represent more than half of Yorkshire’s projected £13m income for the year.
Alongside Gough, other names in the frame for the new set-up are understood to include Leicestershire’s head coach Paul Nixon and ex-England bowling coach Ottis Gibson.
Leicestershire’s head coach Paul Nixon (left) and ex-England bowling coach Ottis Gibson (right) are also in the frame