LEGENDARY umpire Dickie Bird says his appointment as president of Yorkshire County Cricket Club is “the icing on the cake” of a brilliant career.
Bird, 80, will be officially appointed at the club’s annual general meeting on March 29.
He was the club’s unanimous choice to succeed former Yorkshire and England batsman Geoffrey Boycott, whose two-year term expires next month.
And proud Yorkshireman Bird says his appointment is not just the pinnacle of his career but the pinnacle of his whole life.
Bird will serve for one year and said it would make his term of office if Yorkshire could win the County Championship next summer.
“When I walked through the gates at Headingley as a 16-year-old kid for my first practice, I never dreamt for one moment that I would become president of the greatest county cricket club in the world,” said Bird.
“To be honest, I feel numb and I haven’t slept since the club rang to tell me the wonderful news. I’ve had a lump in my throat ever since because there is no greater honour than to be Yorkshire president.
“This is not just the pinnacle of my career – it’s the pinnacle of my life. My dear father and mother, if they’d still been alive, they would have been so proud of this, and it makes me emotional to think what it would have meant to them too. I’ve been so lucky, coming from a humble background in Barnsley, that I really do have to pinch myself sometimes.
“I played cricket for Yorkshire and then I went on to umpire all around the world. To now be president of Yorkshire is simply unbelievable. When you think of some of the legends who have held that role, such as Lord Hawke and FS Jackson, it’s really quite amazing. Looking ahead to the forthcoming season, Bird beamed: “I am particularly excited about the current team and the influx of young players coming through the system.
“The coaching staff, under director of cricket Martyn Moxon and first team coach Jason Gillespie, are creating a winning culture and a team we can all be proud of.
“It would really make my term of office if we could win the Championship this year, and I know that the lads will be giving it their best. A lot will depend on England calls, of course, and how much we see of Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Tim Bresnan and Jonny Bairstow, but we’ve got a magnificent group of players and I’m very optimistic about the club going forward.”
Yorkshire chairman Colin Graves believes Bird will make an excellent president and also paid tribute to Boycott.
Graves said: “It is with great pleasure that Dickie has accepted our nomination. He is a passionate Yorkshireman who has the best interests of Yorkshire cricket at heart. He already attends every home match and his passion and dedication will be a major asset as the club continues to develop over the next few years.
“I must thank Geoffrey, who has made an outstanding contribution during his two years in office. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to have worked with a true legend of both Yorkshire and world cricket. Geoffrey has been immense in his role and has been a faultless ambassador, promoting with enthusiasm and pride our great club across the world through his role as a broadcaster and column writer.”
Bird’s appointment continues the recent trend of Yorkshire handing the presidency to former players, with Bob Appleyard, Brian Close and Ray Illingworth having also served.