Martyn Moxon still in love with cricket as Yorkshire CCC legend hits 60
Moxon, born on May 4, 1960, could still be mistaken for one of the Yorkshire players as he goes through the various fielding and practice drills with them before a day’s play.
It is a proud boast, seeing as he made the last of his 317 first-class appearances way back in August, 1997 – before current Yorkshire stars such as Matthew Fisher and Harry Brook were even born.
“I’m lucky, I’ve not put a massive amount of weight on and I do try and keep fit and look after myself. At the minute, I’m doing quite a lot of fitness; my son’s had me and my wife doing garden workouts four or five times a week during the lockdown, so there’s a lot of stiff parts of the body as a consequence.
“Normally, I do like to do some form of exercise at least three times a week, whether that be the gym or whatever, and I don’t drink a lot or anything like that.
“Maybe just occasionally we’ll have a night out, but I’m not a large alcohol drinker. It takes too long to recover these days. That’s been the case for a while, actually. It’s not worth the agony of the day after.”
It was in 1978 – the year when Night Fever was in the charts and Grease in the cinemas – that Moxon made his debut for the Yorkshire second team, initially at No 5 before going on to make his name as an opener. His County Championship debut followed in 1981, against Essex at Headingley, which he marked with a second-innings hundred (116).
“It was like ‘wow, this is unbelievable’,” he recalls of that special occasion. “Making my first-team debut and scoring a hundred was a dream. Then, to be awarded my first-team cap by David Bairstow in 1984 was another great occasion, because to be able to put on that Yorkshire cap meant so much.”
Cricket ran deep in Moxon’s family.
“My father and grandfather were big into their cricket. Both played local league cricket and my grandad was a league umpire for years when he finished playing.
“It was in the family – yes, absolutely. I think I first started playing when I was three or four years old.”
Moxon initially wanted to be a professional footballer.
“In my teenage years, certainly, football was my favourite sport. I played cricket and enjoyed it, but football was really the No 1 for me.
“I played age-group football for Barnsley boys up to Under-15s, and then didn’t get in the Under-15 team because I was deemed too small. But, at cricket, I played Under-15s cricket when I was 12 for Barnsley boys, so my size didn’t count against me so much, and when I didn’t get into that Under-15 football team, that’s when my attention turned more towards cricket.”
Moxon began watching Yorkshire in the late 1960s. It was the star-studded side of Fred Trueman, Brian Close, Ray Illingworth and Geoffrey Boycott, a side that won a hat-trick of Championships towards the end of the decade.
“I used to go with my grandad to watch Yorkshire in the school holidays. My grandma and grandad were Yorkshire members, so we used to go off to Bramall Lane, Headingley, Bradford, and so on.
“I remember watching Freddie Trueman at Bramall Lane. I must have been seven or eight. It was a wonderful experience.”
By the early 1980s, Moxon had gone from watching some of those players to playing alongside them – most notably Boycott, with whom he forged a successful partnership. It was a controversial time off the field, much of it involving Boycott himself, but Moxon looks back on their alliance with happiness.
“I look back on it with a lot of pride and enjoyment because we were pretty successful, I think, as an opening pair.
“I’ve a lot of memories of the 351 that we put on at Worcester in 1985, and although Geoffrey didn’t say very much in the middle, you learnt so much simply by watching him and being at the other end.
“Off the field, it was a tumultuous time for Yorkshire cricket, but, as a young player, you didn’t really get involved in it all because you were just pleased to be there playing. It was chaos, at times, but the politics and everything didn’t really bother me.”
Moxon recalls Boycott’s bravery and application particularly.
“Geoffrey’s powers of concentration and his courage always stood out. Against the quicks, we all used to get a few blows, but he never took a backward step.
“His planning, too, was very meticulous. He knew exactly how he was going to play each bowler, how they were trying to get him out and his method of how he was going to play them. He had it all worked out prior to his innings.
“He also trained harder than anyone else, and one of my early memories is that Geoffrey would do extra running outside of what we did as a team, his own sprints and shuttles on the outfield, things like that, plus extra nets. He had tremendous work ethic.”
The pair opened for around four years, a period that Moxon says helped him enormously.
“I got on well with him and that period helped me a lot and kind of moulded me as an opener.
“I was a similar type of player, maybe, obviously not as good and I didn’t get anywhere near as many runs, but I tried to set about batting the way he did, to invest time in my innings, and not to panic if I wasn’t able to score quickly in periods but to try to wear the bowlers down instead.
“The first half of the day was where you earned the right, as I call it, and then the second half of the day was when you could hopefully cash in on all that hard work.”
Another of Moxon’s great opening partners was Ashley Metcalfe.
“Ashley was a more aggressive player and we complemented each other well, I’d like to think. It was a very successful partnership and, again, there’s so many happy memories.”
Moxon’s favourite memory as a Yorkshire player was being part of the side that won a dramatic 1987 Benson and Hedges Cup final against Northamptonshire on fewer wickets lost. He laid the platform in the chase with Metcalfe in a stand of 97, Jim Love helping Yorkshire home with an unbeaten 75.
“It was an unbelievable day. The weather was great. There was a full house. It was a fantastic game of cricket which ebbed and flowed. There were so many nerves in that dressing room at the end. The tension and release of joy when we won I’ll never forget.”
It was similar when Moxon made his Test debut against New Zealand at Lord’s in 1986, when he scored 74. He played 10 Tests in total and hit two further half-centuries which, with a bit more luck, would have been career-defining hundreds: 99 against New Zealand at Auckland in 1988, when he famously hit three off the bat which was given as leg-byes, and 81 not out in the next Test at Wellington when the weather left him stranded.
“The umpire thought it was leg-byes but you know when you’ve hit it on to your pad,” he recalls of the 99. “I was only 40-odd at the time, so it wasn’t as if I was in the 90s, but it’s things like that you look back on and think, ‘if only’.”
Of his England career, Moxon says: “If there’s one regret, it would be that I got too worried about being dropped rather than just trying to bat like I was for Yorkshire.
“There was a lot of chopping and changing in that period in the England team, and I was thinking too much about stuff I couldn’t control, which is now, as a coach, something that I’ve talked a lot to players about – not worrying about what might happen but just focusing instead on the things you can control.”
Moxon has spent much of his coaching career developing successful sides: the Yorkshire one that went on to win the Championship in 2001, the one that won back-to-back titles in 2014/2015, and also the Durham team of the mid-2000s.
He has had a wonderful career and still loves every minute. He remains an outstanding ambassador for Yorkshire and the sport.
“To have been involved in professional sport for 42 years and counting, I feel very fortunate. I’ve not had a proper job all my life.”
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