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Sayers seeks ideal closing chapter

By Chris Devine

Of all Yorkshire’s players and staff, Joe Sayers perhaps has greatest reason for hoping the club secures LV= County Championship glory this summer.

As the final weeks of the domestic season approach, the White Rose occupy top spot in Division One, 10 points clear of second-placed Sussex, who have played a game more, and 14 ahead of Middlesex.

A first championship title since 2001 would certainly prove extra special for Yorkshire in their 150th anniversary year.

Yet there is added excitement for top-order batsman Sayers, as he is in the process of writing a season diary that will represent the official publication of Yorkshire’s sesquicentenary.

Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, the affable Sayers said: “I think it’s perfectly realistic for us to keep driving forward towards being in contention, at least, for silverware, and it certainly would be a great story for the book. I’d love to be able to tell the story of winning the championship.

“It would mean a great deal, particularly having been promoted last season from Division Two to make an effort to be in the top flight in our anniversary year.

“When we were talking about the content of the book earlier in the year we joked about how good it would be (to win the league). Obviously we’re in a very good position.”

Yorkshire’s rise to the championship summit is all the more impressive given their dismal start to the campaign.

Dismissed for 96 by Sussex at Headingley on day one of the 2013 season, Jason Gillespie’s men went on to suffer an innings-and-12-run defeat that suggested a year of struggle was ahead.

“I remember Dizzy (Gillespie) saying to the team that we mustn’t let that game define our season and we’ve certainly not allowed that to happen,” explained Sayers.

“In many ways I think it gave us the sobering slap around the face that we perhaps needed. It’s very easy to get carried away with romantic visions of the future at that time of year and it certainly brought our feet back down to earth if they weren’t.

“We set about building a championship season from that point onwards and luckily we’ve continued to do that week upon week, so we can look back now on a very poor start to the championship year, but perhaps one that gave us the drive and determination to push on to where we are.”

Yorkshire’s fine four-day form, together with the progression of exciting youngsters such as Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, ensures there will be plenty of positive material within Sayers’ diary.

“Hopefully it’s going to be a modern publication that is attractive and of interest to the younger fan as well as the typical county member,” added the 29-year-old.

“It just seemed appropriate for a story of the season to fit well with all these efforts marking the anniversary year. Also I was very keen for a publication to come out that writes about what’s happening now in Yorkshire cricket and what could happen in the future … as well as respecting and celebrating the glorious past as well.

“I’ve spoken a lot with Rooty and with Jonny over the last few weeks and months. They’ve already contributed to the book and there will be content in there about the build-up to their Ashes summer and Joe’s incredible start to the season with us as well.

“It’s great not only to get the content that I will have written myself, but also contributions from key people that have defined the Yorkshire summer. Michael Vaughan has agreed to write a contribution and the foreword is likely to be written by Darren Lehmann so it’s going to be a team effort in many ways.”

The book is set to be published within weeks of the season’s end and Sayers has thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of putting it together, with the expert assistance of respected cricket writer David Warner.

“Writing a book is something I’ve always wanted to do as a cricketer,” said Sayers, who has previously written fortnightly pieces for the Yorkshire Post as well as a tour diary from Australia in 2004.

“I’ve read various dressing room diaries over the years, those of Ed Smith, for example, and Mark Wagh, and I’ve always thought it would be quite an enjoyable and fulfilling thing to do.

“The county summer presents quite a lot of opportunity really to do an hour’s writing or two, whether it’s a long bus trip down to Brighton, a rainy day at the start of the season, or simply just a natural break in a four-day game or a day off.

“Even though we are generally playing roughly six days a week throughout the summer, there are natural breaks in that and natural lulls where I can get the laptop out or a paper and pen.

“It does actually lend itself quite well and it’s quite a nice break from the day-to-day training and concentration on playing.

“All the players are very much on board with it; they’re very keen to tell their story of the season.

“Hopefully, if the season is as successful as we’d like, it’s going to be a keepsake for those players, who can look back in 20 years time and say ‘yeah, I remember that match’ or ‘that was a great day’.”

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