FOR Yorkshire cricket-lovers, the end of the season has too often been a source of disappointment and missed opportunity.

Who can forget last year’s last day drama with a Yorkshire defeat by five runs at Edgbaston sending them down to Division Two?

Yorkshire won’t bounce back as everyone hoped. A victim of bad weather, the team languishes at the foot of the table. The biggest blow, though, is off the pitch where the club stands to be hit with a 48 point deduction after racism charges following Azeem Rafiq’s revelations.

Yorkshire fans of a certain age recall fondly the years when the team dominated English cricket. Since 1890, the first official county championship, Yorkshire has won the title 33 times (including one shared). But titles come in bunches and the last 50 years have seen no such bunches, with just three titles in all.

However, looking further back, we won seven times in 11 years (1958-1968). Those now in their seventies will remember the team of Brian Close, Fred Trueman, Geoff Boycott, Ray Illingworth. Look back another generation and there were seven titles in the 1930s. Many remember fathers and grandfathers talking about Len Hutton, Herbert Sutcliffe, Maurice Leyland, Hedley Verity, Bill Bowes.

One dominant figure known as a cricketing tyrant connects both eras: Brian Sellers (1907-1981), born and bred in Keighley. On August 26, 1946 captain Sellers led Yorkshire to his sixth county cricket championship.

This is often reckoned to have been Yorkshire’s best-ever team and Sellers was really selected just as captain! On that day down at the Saffrons in Eastbourne, Yorkshire completed a regulation victory in two days against Sussex by six wickets. They became champions for the first post-war season and for the sixth time in eight seasons (excluding war years) under Sellers.

Although the legendary Lord Hawke won eight championships for Yorkshire pre-World War 1, Sellers was considered the better captain. Unlike Hawke, he never came near to Test Match status; he was picked as a captain, being only a modest batsman going in at number 7 and occasional bowler. But he set a good example as a fielder. In 1940 he was one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year, proclaimed the ‘most successful county captain of all time’. In 77 years since his last championship, his captaincy record has never been bettered.

The son of a Yorkshire batsman captained his school team at 16 and, at 24, Keighley club team, in the tough Bradford League. He notoriously spoke his mind: ‘We are out to win; if we cannot do so, good luck to our opponents, but we are not going to give them a chance if we can help it’.

He moulded a team of England stars to county success, including Bowes, Hutton, Leyland, Sutcliffe and Verity. Sellers became Yorkshire chairman in 1959, overseeing another decade of success. His time at the helm is also remembered for strife. In a succession of controversies he allowed stars such as Johnny Wardle, Ray Illingworth and Brian Close to leave. He was forced to resign in 1977 after years of controversy under captain Geoff Boycott.

It’s difficult to believe that Sellers’ style would take him far in today’s cricket world. Handling player contracts is today quite a different problem than the 1960s. Sellers’ approach to player engagement was deeply inflexible, even in those less complicated times. But it’s difficult to see how the same captain might ever win six titles again. Sellers’ achievement looks unbeatable.

* Martin Greenwood’s book Every Day Bradford, about people and places from Bradford's past and present, is available online and from bookshops.