New Yorkshire CCC president Dr Jane Powell speaks on moving forward
It gives you an indication of the kind of person Yorkshire’s new president Dr Jane Powell is when she’s asked whether this summer’s Ashes Test Match at Headingley is one of the things she’s most looking forward to in her first year in the role.
“No,” she said with a smile. “I’m most looking forward to meeting the people of Yorkshire Cricket, not just at the county club but around the county.
“To get out and meet the people who keep the game going around Yorkshire will be lovely.
“The Ashes Test is just the icing on the cake. The cake is the people who keep this county thriving.”
Powell last month replaced Geoff Cope as Yorkshire president, the county’s first female to fill that position.
Sheffield-born, Powell is a former Yorkshire and England women’s captain, also coaching the latter team.
She is a Championship winner with her county and, for her country, she scored a Test century against India at Blackpool’s Stanley Park in 1986 and captained them two years later in a World Cup final against Australia at the MCG.
Jane, whose twin sister Jill also played Test cricket for England, also played hockey for England, was a junior representative badminton player and has worked in lacrosse.
Alongside her current role with Yorkshire, she is the ECB’s Disability Performance manager. Last week, she was awarded MCC honorary life membership.
Powell was at Headingley during last week’s Championship match against Leicestershire and said: “I’m thrilled to have been given this role.
“I want to do my best to help the club because it’s one of the greatest clubs in the world despite what’s happened. We need to get that back into everybody’s minds.
“It’s a big role, and one that I’m not underestimating. I just hope to do it to the best of my ability.
“Because I’m the first female president at Yorkshire, I didn’t actually consider it because I didn’t think it was possible. There’s that saying, ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.
“It’s lovely, and lovely that people like Sir Geoffrey have reached out and said, ‘Congratulations, well deserved’. That gives me a lot more confidence to know that I’ve been welcomed.
“It’s big, and it will rock the cricketing world because if Yorkshire can do it, everybody can. It’s a big step.
“There’s so many good people here and so many wonderful things happening, and it’s being masked because of the poor press we’ve been getting.
“We’ve got a women’s side who are champions of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy. I was there at Lord’s last September, and that was such an amazing day.
“We also have a Disability side who have been promoted to the top league for this summer. Then you have all the great junior stuff which is going on around the county.
“The great thing is, every area of the club is working together to move us forwards.
“We’ve got to learn from what’s gone before and move forwards with confidence that we’re doing the right things to make the club a more inclusive place to be.”
Born in the Broad Acres, she is currently based in Formula One country, Silverstone.
“I’ve actually just bought a caravan in Hawkesworth,” she said.
“I decided I needed a base up here, so I’m now the proud owner of a brand new caravan in Moor Valley Country Park.”
Powell was in the same class at school in Sheffield as Lord Sebastian Coe and also had a storied and successful career, giving her wide ranging skills and experience to bring to Headingley.
“I have experiences as a player, as a coach and administrator, and I also feel that my people skills will be very important. I’d like to think I’m quite personable,” she said.
“I’ve already had people reaching out, asking me to go to various things. I know all the good things going on here and want to promote that.
“I have a vast and varied knowledge about the game. You don’t get to captain your country without knowing the game.
“I loved playing. I say to people these days, ’You’re a long time retired, play as long as you can and at the highest level you can’.
“My England debut was 1984 officially, but I was with the squad from 1979 and was always out there fielding. I bet I hold the record for most 12th man appearances.
“I was a hardworking, solid player without being a highflyer. A 35 average in Tests and a 33 in ODIs shows I was solid without being exceptional.
“I also really enjoyed the captaincy side of things and being about to control things, to maybe win a game by changing the field or switching the bowlers around.
“In those days, it was completely different.
“I worked full-time as a teacher at the same time. I was having to do my training before school and pay for tours and my own blazer and things like that.
“The England blazer and the Yorkshire blazer were both blue, so I used to have two pockets which I’d sew the badges onto depending on who I was representing.”
Her playing career brought her many highlights - scoring that Test century at Blackpool is one.
“Another, bizarrely, was having breakfast with (former Indian Prime Minister) Indira Gandhi,” she recalled. “I wouldn’t have met her if I didn’t play cricket. But we went for breakfast with her as a team when we were there on tour.”
Fingers crossed, her new role at Headingley brings many other career highlights.
“It’s a massive year for the club across the board,” she said.
“Everybody has tipped Yorkshire to go straight back up. That’s what we hope, but it’s not always an easy tag to carry.
“We keep developing these youngsters and then England take them out of the mix. That’s always going to be a challenge. I watched Finlay Bean score a century against Leicestershire and was thinking, ‘Don’t you take him away, let us keep him for a bit longer’.
“We’ve already lost Harry Brook, Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow. Thank goodness we’ve still got Dawid Malan and all the youngsters still coming through.
“That’s the great thing about Yorkshire. I think the depth of players is far superior to any other county.
“The Test Match here in July will be a particularly special time when you have homegrown players playing for England on their home ground.
“I don’t think there’s anything better as a player, and as a supporter you have extra interest in the game because they’re a part of you in that sense. I’m really looking to that Test immensely.
“But, as I say, I’m most looking forward to going out and letting the Disability players know the club has a president who knows what they’re doing. I’m looking forward to going to a number of Diamonds games and showing all the different areas of the club that we really do care about them and that they’re important.”