McGrath back for good
Yorkshire all-rounder Anthony McGrath finished the 2007 season in a much happier frame of mind than he ended the summer before.
Yorkshire went into the final two weeks of the season as serious contenders for the LV County Championship crown, having headed the table for much of the campaign.
This was a sharp turnaround for a club who appeared in turmoil over the winter, with McGrath threatening to leave, Chris Adams changing his mind about captaining the side after signing, and David Byas leaving as coach.
But some fresh faces, and some returning in Darren Gough and Martyn Moxon, brought about a revitalised Yorkshire eager for success.
“With a club like Yorkshire, every year the expectation is so high," McGrath told ecb.co.uk.
"But for once, after what happened in the winter and last year when we escaped relegation, the fans and members and even the media in Yorkshire weren't expecting us to do anything at all.
“That took a little bit of pressure off the players and that certainly helped us relax in the early games.
“Everyone thought the main thing after the season before was to stay up and keep in Division One.
“But you have always got to be positive and have goals. Once we'd won the first couple of games, we realised we had a chance to be challenging for the title.”
Yorkshire eventually ended in sixth position after drawing with fellow contenders Hampshire in their final game and a sudden resurgence by Surrey which saw them leapfrog into fourth.
“We missed Jason Gillespie and Younus Khan, who had been with us for the whole year,” McGrath admitted.
“We had a settled side for most of the year and we missed that experience and quality. I think we developed a way of playing with those two in.
“Even though we brought Inzamam in and a couple of other player, it is always difficult for new players - especially at that business end of the season - to come in and produce what Jason and Younus did.
“Also, I think Adil Rashid and Tim Bresnan and a couple of others probably just got a little bit tired and we just weren't quite up to it in the end.”
The introduction of Gough as captain and Moxon as coach gave Yorkshire a massive boost at the start of the season, and they settled back into the club very quickly.
“It all happened pretty close to the start of the season,” McGrath said. “But I think it helped with both of them having been players at Yorkshire before and Martyn having coached the side as well.
“They pretty much knew what Yorkshire was all about and the expectations. There wasn`t much of a transition period at all.”
McGrath himself had a troubled winter as he tried to leave Yorkshire on several occasions but was eventually persuaded back under the new regime.
“It was a long drawn out winter for myself,” he confirmed. “I was really pleased in the end with what happened at the club.
“I was enjoying my cricket again and that was what it was all about really. I'd probably lost a bit of enjoyment over the last year. But last season was excellent.
“It was just a shame we missed out on a trophy at the end.”
McGrath's own form developed and bettered match by match, as he ended third in Yorkshire's championship batting averages with 931 runs at 46.55 and topping their Friends Provident Trophy averages with 415 runs at 103.75, including an unbeaten 135.
“Since I got left out from England a few years ago, I was determined to try to get some consistency in my game, try to get some big scores and prove to people that I can play on a consistent level,” he explained.
“I think with experience you learn the pitfalls of county cricket and you can turn around a couple of bad weeks, when you are out of form, quicker than when you are younger. And experience often helps with consistency.”
Yorkshire had seven games affected by rain and lost a possible 88 points in those matches - a stat only the flooded Worcestershire can claim to have worsened.
McGrath said: “It was a freak summer in terms of the weather. I don't think anyone has ever seen anything like it. But I think it aided a really good championship season.
“For ourselves at Yorkshire, when it rains there is not much we can do except work on our skills and work as a team. We've got some good facilities and that's what we did.
“It's just a shame it washed out so much of the season.
“Hopefully next year we will have a really good summer and it won't disrupt the county programme."