Tuesday, 25 April 2017

More National KO news

posted by John Winn

Tony's account of the thrilling National KO match he saw on Sunday made me realise that I had been remiss in not drawing the attention of our readers to the start of the 2017 competition. Too busy fuming over Hampshire perhaps but by way of catch up Group 1 (North East and North Yorkshire) saw wins for Barnard Castle over Dunnington, Driffield beat Brandon, Scarborough beat Benwell Hill and Stockton were too good for Stamford Bridge. In Group Two Cleethorpes got home in the last over v Chesterfield, Elsecar were much too strong for South Kirkby and Woodhouse Grange gave Grimsby Town a fearful pasting with a winning margin of over 200 runs.

Some of the big guns including last year's winners South Northumberland had byes and Tony has mentioned that Sheriff Hutton Bridge's reward for Sunday's win is a trip to Newcastle to beard the champions in their lair. Other interesting games in Round 2, scheduled for May 14th, include Chester le Street v Scarborough, York v Driffield and Sheffield Collegiate v Woodhouse Grange.

The Cricketer Village Cup gets underway this Sunday although a paucity of entries means in some areas there are no matches until Round Two on May 14th. In Yorkshire there are however fixtures in all areas and these can be found at nationalvillagecup.com.

Blessed by mainly dry, if at times cold weather, the county championship has got up a decent head of steam and two thirds of counties have played three matches. Surrey head Div 1 with their two recruits from Durham, Stoneman and Borthwick, having scored over 550 runs between them. Close behind them are Lancashire who enjoyed an excellent fourth day at Old Trafford yesterday with a win over Somerset who in contrast to last September when they were squeezed out of the title on the last day of the season now find themselves bottom of the table, four points behind Warwickshire who have played a game more. The only newcomers to the top table, Essex will be pleased with their start which sees them undefeated after three games and a win under their belts. Their game with Middlesex was the commentary match on Five Live Sports Extra yesterday with the excellent Kevin Howells in charge, bad light thwarted the champions here with Essex eight down when the game was called off. Yorkshire largely thanks to Ballance's runs and Coad's wickets are just a point behind Essex.

Notts and Kent are setting a fierce pace in Division Two with three wins from their three games. Northants and Worcestershire have two wins each which in another year might have seen them in the top two but leaves them off the pace at the moment. Durham are over 100 points behind Notts but do have a game in hand.

If the interesting cricket that has been played has whetted your appetite for more then you will have to contain yourself for a while for the day after tomorrow balls and clothing change colour when there are six matches in the 50 over competition and championship cricket puts its feet up until May 19th. Safe your breath John, nobody's listening.

Monday, 24 April 2017

National club knock out starts with a classic

Posted by Tony Hutton

Plans for Sunday 23rd April changed quite rapidly. Originally Trent Bridge was the favoured destination, but Sussex laid down and died in two days so that was a non-starter. There were several games in the National club knock out including Scarborough versus Benwell Hill from the North East, but reports of recent weekend traffic chaos on the A64 ruled that one out. So we decided on another club knock out game a bit closer to home and not far from yesterday's trip. Sheriff Hutton Bridge, a few miles north of York, were taking on Richmondshire also from North Yorkshire with two strong looking sides.

New season and new pavilion extension at SHB.

The visitors batted first and opened with Gary Pratt, once of Durham, now captain of Cumberland Minor Counties. He opened with wicketkeeper Mike Layfield, who set about the bowling from the start in a pinch hitter role. He hit five fours in just eighteen balls before he was caught for 25. He had outscored his partner at that point but as soon as he was out Pratt took control. He straight drove left arm spinner Carver for two sixes and ended his first spell after just three overs. Batsmen came and went but Pratt dominated proceedings for almost the rest of the innings.

Gary Pratt starts to dominate the scoring and below in full flow.

The Richmondshire skipper scored a splendid 121, which included two sixes and ten fours before he was out to a stunning low, diving catch by Yorkshire's Karl Carver. The score then was 238-6 and the visitors eventually ended their forty five overs with a good total of 251-8. The home side took several excellent catches but also managed to drop a couple of easier ones.

Gary Pratt goes to his century and eventually departs for 121.

The Bridge did not start their reply too well, losing two wickets early on and falling quite a bit behind the scoring rate. Opener Mark Fisher, brother of Yorkshire's Matthew, held things together well with a sound innings of 60, but when he was out at 145-4 they were well behind the required rate. Enter a recent newcomer to the club, none other that Oliver Grayson, son of Paul now coaching Durham University and Yorkshire Ladies. Oliver is studying at Leeds University and made his debut for the Bridge yesterday.

Olly Grayson

Karl Carver

He played a match winning innings of 67, watched by proud grandad Adrian, and in partnership with Karl Carver put on ninety runs in very quick time. Carver became the six hitting hero as he raced to fifty off just thirty four balls and Bridge were very much back in the game. When both were out with the target almost achieved it was left to the two tailenders Russell Robinson and wicketkeeper Ben Gill to keep their cool with seven to win off the last two balls of the match. Gill finished the game in style with a four and a two to bring the scores level. Sheriff Hutton Bridge go through to the next round as they lost one fewer wicket. What a game - roll on the next round in three weeks time when the Bridge will face South Northumberland away.

Clifton fall just short but Ouseburn do the double.

posted by John Winn

Like Tony I was in at the start of the new season in Yorkshire Premier North on Saturday but my watching began a few miles down the A19 at Clifton Park in York where the other promoted team, Clifton Alliance, welcomed Scarborough to their lovely ground. Scarborough, once the big boys of the league, finished just one place off relegation last year and Clifton must have felt they had been dealt a reasonable first hand.

Taking shelter from a northerly breeze I was in position to see the umpire throw the cherry to Scarborough's opening bowler, Jack Holt, a couple of minutes before the appointed start time of twelve noon and as early as the second over overseas player Jack Beath was on his way back to the pavilion followed in the next over by Hayden Bradley who played an August shot in April and was caught at mid on. 10 for 2 and time to dig in and count the extras as Kristian Wilkinson set off on his quest to bowl ten no balls in the innings, something he achieved and to which he added a wide. Before I left after an hour's play Drewery and Gilham had mounted a rescue and with skipper Hopkinson coming in at five hitting 47 CACC were all out for 196. I spent my time in the company of George Drewery, father of Greg and secretary of Londesbrorough Park CC from where his son has been recruited. Dad would be very pleased with his son's 58 on debut.

The excellent league website shows that Scarborough initially made a very poor fist of getting the runs and at 94 for 7 Clifton must have thought an opening win was in the bag. Good partnerships for the eighth and ninth wickets saw the East Coast men recover, 67 for Ben Elvidge and 54 not out for Holt and they crossed the line with a couple of overs to spare.

Clifton Alliance CC

Next stop Easingwold and a catch up with Tony and Jennifer and to watch the Academy recovery Tony has described. The Academy 's innings was over shortly after three o'clock, a little early for tea and  I started back towards the Lower Ure Valley using a route which took me through Alne where Ouseburn, with several new faces and under new skipper Adam Fisher, were in the field against the hosts. A chance to chat to Jim Rose, Ouseburn's chairman and he filled me in on some of the new players. Particularly impressive was Ben Mackrill, ex Goldsborough, who took 3 for 12 off 9 overs and was at the crease when the winning runs were hit, 49 for evergreen Sam Parker and 44 for Fisher and a seven wicket win to start the new campaign.

Via the Aldwark toll bridge I headed for Lightmire Lane where it was tea time with Alne II having made 193 for 6 off their 45 overs. Ouseburn's reply started slowly, too slowly for some of the watchers but 68 for Ben Jones and a run a ball 74 for Harry Hartley Metcalf and an undefeated stand of 131 between these two saw OCC home by five wickets and four overs unused.

Yesterday was a lovely sunny day, the best for two weeks and with the prospect of chilly times in the week ahead I forsook cricket to do some gardening whilst listening to commentary online on the Hampshire v Yorkshire match. This was not good for the blood pressure as the smug Hampshire based commentators showed no embarrassment about their team's reprieve from relegation last year and not even the disclosure that over 80% of their wickets this season have been taken by South Africans disturbed their equanimity. Bah humbug. And don't mention the ECB's 'resting policy', either to me or Joe Root.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Yorkshire League North gets underway

Posted by Tony Hutton

Saturday 22nd April and a big day for Easingwold cricket club. Founded as far back as 1829 they won promotion last season from the York Senior League to the Yorkshire Premier League North. This was their first game at this level and quite appropriate that they should have the Yorkshire Academy as their first opponents at this pleasant and spacious ground at Back Lane, Easingwold which is an attractive market town north of York.

Play gets underway at Easingwold.
Jonathan Read, normally a wicketkeeper, opened the batting in the absence of Harry Brook who was busy scoring a century for Sedbergh School. However Read did not last long being bowled by Postill for just four. Jared Warner and Imtiaz also went cheaply to give Easingwold an excellent start with the Academy 54-3. Fortunately opener Ben Ainsley looked in good form and he got his head down to play the innings of the day.
Spectators enjoying the sunshine at Easingwold

Skipper Jordan Thompson gave Ainsley good support for a while, but when he was out bowled by veteran Redshaw a clatter of wickets followed with three of them falling to Sargent who took 3-22. The Academy were almost down and out at 105-8, but enter James Logan not known for his batting prowess, but a very useful left arm spin bowler.
Today was to prove his day with the bat as he managed to stay around to give Ainsley support and then started to play some excellent shots himself. The pair put on an unbroken partnership of 92 to take the visitors to respectability with a final score of 197-8.
Academy skipper Jordan Thompson on strike.

The final stages of the innings were all about whether Ainsley could complete an unlikely century, he was almost there in the last over but unfortunately lost the strike when what looked like just a single for Logan was misfielded on the boundary and went for four. He regained the strike for the fifth ball but could only manage a single, so Logan ended the innings with a fine straight six and Ainsley was left stranded on 99 not out. Nevertheless a match winning innings.

Cherry blossom in the background as Easingwold start their reply.

Easingwold were soon in trouble against the pace of Taylor and Barnes, who both looked too quick for the early batsmen. This is what stepping up a league is all about. It was soon 27-3 and despite 30 from Waite and 32 from Greenlay, all the Yorkshire bowlers took wickets at regular intervals to reduce Easingwold to 104 all out. Two defiant sixes from Knott off Logan gave the home supporters something to cheer about, but with a middle aged look about some of their players they may find the coming season an uphill struggle. Reinforcements are on the way I understand, including an overseas player, so good luck to them as the season progresses.

Busy three day week

Posted by Tony Hutton

With weather conditions still not ideal for cricket watchers, it was really a matter of keeping moving for our busy three day week between Tuesday 18th April and Thursday 20th April. With yet again two games in Leeds not far apart, at Headingley and Weetwood, it was a question of commuting between the two on Tuesday and Thursday with a day out in North Yorkshire at Richmond inbetween.

First stop Headingley on Tuesday morning where Yorkshire 2nd XI were taking on Gloucester 2nd XI in a three day friendly. The place is always something like the Marie Celeste for such fixtures and the fact that the Yorkshire guide for members suggested the game started the following day meant there were even less people present than normal. John has covered the cause of this problem at some length but the first morning and the last morning were spoilt by endless noise, first as if sitting in a metal scrapyard in the Trueman enclosure while endless seats for the pavilion balcony were being unloaded and then on Thursday very noisy drilling while seats were being put in place. No consideration whatsoever for players or the admittedly few spectators.

Yorkshire batted and lost opener Elliot Callis to the very first ball of the match, when the crowd had barely reached double figures. He wafted at one outside leg stump and was easily caught by wicketkeeper Bracey off the bowling of Mark Taylor. We had already seen Bracey performing well with the bat earlier this season for Loughborough University. Apparently his brother also played for Gloucester a few years ago, but sadly I cannot claim to have seen a pair of Braceys play cricket.

Sanity was restored after the early wicket with a good century partnership between Tattersall and Rhodes both with over 70 to their credit. Nice to see Tattersall back in the fold, even if it is only a very short term contract initially. Rhodes, as we saw at Old Trafford, is already in good form and unlucky not to be in the first team, but with Root and Bairstow making rare appearances on Friday he may have to wait a while. Yorkshire batted on all day to be finally all out for 332, with Jack Leaning needing runs making a solid 64 with useful time at the crease.

During the afternoon we moved on to Weetwood for some peace and quiet
as Leeds/Bradford MCCU were taking on Oxford MCCU in a one day BUCS game. The home side, after their defeat by Cambridge, were very much in control and the star of the show was Middlesex batsman Martin Andersson with a splendid innings of 138 before he was sixth man out with the total already beyond 300. Opener and acting captain Steve Bullen made 50 and Scottish wicketkeeper Craig Wallace 53, before a late order collapse produced an all out score of 344. Tom Heathfield, who has played for Northants was Oxford's best bowler with 4-72.

Wednesday brought a change of scenery at the pleasant Richmondshire CC ground in Richmond, North Yorkshire where Durham Academy were taking on Yorkshire Academy in the first of two one day games. Durham had aleady beaten the Lancashire Academy on this ground the day before and must have been pretty confident. However Yorkshire all rounder Jared Warner, who spent much of last season with an injury which prevented him bowling, has obviously been polishing his batting skills and dominated the Yorkshire innings, ending on 131 not out with thirteen fours and one six.
Yorkshire Academy batting at scenic Richmond

The other batsmen didn't get much of a look in, apart from newcomer Snooks with 28, until a savage late partnership of 87 in very quick time with Ed Barnes, who made a quick fire 47 not out, really took Durham to the cleaners. Yorkshire ended their 50 overs on 290-5. Durham's reply was very confident indeed with Hewitson and McBride the openers both making fifties and putting on exactly one hundred for the first wicket. With the persistent cold winds blowing we departed mid-afternoon with the game still very much in the balance.

Jared Warner hits out for the Yorkshire Academy.

We learned the following day that Yorkshire dismissed Durham for 249 so won by 41 runs. After the two openers were out only Scott Steel with 76 was in the runs and the rest were sunk without trace. Three wickets for newcomer Alec Drury from Driffield as well as two for another youngster Harry Harding. Lots of good talent on show from both sides, showing their ability so early in the season.

A brief return to Headingley on Thursday morning spoilt by the persistent drilling noise from the pavilion balcony which prompted a phone call to the office to complain. A very polite lady answered saying that they only had a very short time scale to put the new seats in (presumably for the one day international), but seemed unimpressed with my comments about the annoyance to both players and the few spectators.

So again it was back to Weetwood for the afternoon where Oxford were bowled out for 214, despite 70 from night watchman Heathfield. Pace bowler Bocking had the best figures with 4-58. Leeds batted again and collected more bonus points with a second innings of 177-8, Scotsman Wallace again in the runs with 78 not out. So 21 points for Leeds/Bradford and only 9 for Oxford.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Give us back our missing day

posted by John Winn

In September 1752, when Britain changed its calendar from Julian to Gregorian, there was civil unrest as people demanded the return of the eleven days of their lives they believed they had lost when the date jumped directly from Wednesday 2nd September to Thursday 14th. I was reminded of this on Wednesday when I entered the long room at Headingley for the second day of the friendly between Yorkshire II and Gloucestershire II. Civil unrest? Perhaps not, but some pretty serious grumbling. 11 days? No, just one, but some of the most faithful of the faithful were seriously concerned that they had missed the first day and that a fixture change had been made of which they had not been notified.* Little consolation for them to be told that they had missed some decent batting from Yorkshire, under the captaincy of Jack Leaning, with runs for Rhodes, Tattersall and the skipper. The day had come to a nice clean ending with Yorkshire all out in the last over.

My source for this information was Malcolm Shearsby who had seen most of Tuesday's play and who informed me that the crowd had been in the high thirties, fewer than forty people in a ground that even before the proposed reconstruction holds fifteen thousand. And as is typical of second XI cricket at Headingley there was little in the way of home comforts for the slightly increased numbers who attended on Wednesday. The Kirkstall Lane entrance closed, no scorecards, no refreshments in the long room, no pa, the usual signs that underline the principle on which second XI cricket, other than at out grounds is based, ie nobody watches.

Wednesday's weather was pretty typical of the whole of the week, dry with high pressure in charge but the sun losing its battle to break through thick cloud and cold, double figures Celsius at best. The day's cricket began as had Tuesday's with a wicket in the first over and Gloucestershire's captain Roderick on his way back to the warmth of the dressing rooms, ct Leaning bowled Fisher, 0. 100 minutes passed before another wicket fell and by lunch the West Country men had reached 117 for 2, with Cockbain, son of, unbeaten on 65. During the interval I restored circulation by lapping the ground and was not surprised to hear the fixture change still under discussion.

Cockbain was out shortly after lunch but another good stand developed between Howell and Hankins, the latter having scored just one off his first 45 balls but going on to make a century. Slight drizzle at three o'clock gave me the excuse I had been looking for to set course for home but the Yorkshire website tells me that Gloucestershire declared at tea, 57 behind, a Yorkshire lead that was increased to 124 by stumps, drawn when bad light intervened just after 6:30.

Family duties kept me away from cricket on Thursday and I missed a last ball victory for the visitors by four wickets, a Yorkshire declaration having set them 283 off a minimum of 61 overs. Hankins in the runs again, runs that got him a first team place against Durham yesterday, and he received good support from 'keeper Bracey who was lbw in the last over for 77. Skipper Roderick came in down the order to hit the winning runs.

Saturday morning's weather in the Lower Ure Valley has kept up the pattern of the last few days with overcast skies and a temperature of 7 degrees, But this is a special day in the blog's calendar for it is the day when most league cricket starts and I shall be at Clifton Park for 12 noon when Yorkshire Premier North newcomers Clifton Alliance take on Scarborough and Tony will be not far up A19 at Easingwold, the other promoted club, who host the academy. I will join him at some point before returning home via Alne where my local club Ouseburn start the defence of their Nidderdale league title with a local derby, just six miles apart.

* Second XI annual and the blog have the game starting on April 18th. The YCCC Members' Guide seems to have been the culprit listing the first day as April 19th. With May just around the corner we will be publishing our fixture guide for that month. We will try and get them right!

Clifton Alliance CC

Monday, 17 April 2017

Not ideal cricket weather

Posted by Tony Hutton

As John discovered on Saturday plenty of cricket going on but not ideal weather for spectators. Just to bring things up to date following my recent visit to Old Trafford for the second eleven battle of the Roses, the four day friendly game ended in a draw on Thursday. After a rain hit third day, Yorkshire looked to be in a winning position but after five wickets had fallen for seventy runs (four of them to Matthew Waite) Lancashire apparently put up the shutters with a vengeance. In a performance akin to some Roses games of long ago, their second innings lasted for one hundred overs, of which no less than 41 were maidens, for a final total of 185-5. Talk about watching paint dry!

While all this was going on we were back in Yorkshire watching the two day game at Weetwood between Leeds/Bradford and Cambridge Universities. After Cambridge's narrow victory in the one day game on Wednesday, Leeds were very much looking for revenge. However, in atrocious windy conditions on both days, which made watching only possible from the corner of the pavilion or more comfortably in the car, Cambridge came out very much on top yet again.

Leeds/Bradford MCCU ready for action.
Tetley and Palmer the openers for Cambridge.

The home side were probably quite happy to have bowled the visitors out for 233 on the first day, with left arm spinner Holmes from Cheshire taking 4-48 in twenty one tidy overs. They were handicapped by the loss of Harry Stow, the Harrogate bowler, who had to leave the field with a back injury, but still had lots of work to do as twelfth man. No one made a big score for Cambridge, Callum Guest an all rounder from Sussex top scoring with 47.

Cambridge all out for 233.

Leeds started well but from 101-2 with Andersson again going well they subsided once he was out for 45 to 178 all out. Guest had a great spell of spin bowling after lunch taking five wickets for twenty two and demolishing the tail completely. Rippington the left arm pace man took three wickets and Cambridge had won the first innings points.
The batted briskly in their second innings and accumulated more bonus points by scoring 212-6 in just 51 overs. Opener Harrison Palmer, who has played Minor Counties cricket for Hertfordshire top scored this time round with 52. Holmes again impressed with the ball with four more wickets.

Cambridge finished the game with seventeen points and Leeds/Bradford just seven.
So a poor start to the season for this new look home team with many newcomers who could well take time to settle, but they will be in action again next week with three days of cricket against Oxford University, starting with a one day game on Tuesday,  apparently with the usual 12.30 start despite rumours of 11 a.m. Yet another unfortunate clash with Yorkshire 2nd XI playing Gloucester at Headingley for three days.

While John was navigating around Huddersfield on Saturday, we were off up north to Chester-le-Street for the second day of Durham v Nottinghamshire at the Riverside.
A good crowd had already filled the seats in front of the health club, which was the only spot out of the wind, so after an hour or so we retreated to the warmth of the long room. We were lucky to find an excellent spot watching behind glass alongside our good friends Darlo Eddie and our Hartlepool correspondent Mike Taylerson.

View from the long room at Riverside

Notts had bowled out Durham for 162 on day one, with wicketkeeper Poynter top scoring on 65and were 96-4 overnight which was something of a recovery having been 7-3 at one stage. Patel was soon out this morning and a most unlikely hero emerged in the considerable shape of Luke Fletcher an opening bowler by trade, who had been pressed into service as a night watchman. He batted with the utmost confidence to reach only the fourth fifty of his long first class career. His eminent partners came and went, Patel, Wessels and Read in fact. He was then joined by recent Australian recruit James Pattinson, a fellow bowler who can bat a bit, as he proved in a century partnership with Fletcher.

The big man, although he is said to have shed two stones in weight during the winter, looked more and more fluent until he equalled his previous highest score of 92 and on the verge of his maiden century when sadly tragedy struck. Pattinson pushed the ball out on the leg side, started to come and then sent Fletcher back. He was almost two thirds down the pitch by then and has a turning circle somewhat like an aircraft carrier. At this point he slipped and dropped his bat, got up and raced back to the bowler's end only for Jennings to throw to the bowler, Collingwood, who demolished the stumps and poor Fletch was out. Oh calamity!

The disconsolate Fletcher returns to the pavilion

By this time Notts were 264-8 and over one hundred runs ahead, so the game was drifting away from Durham, who of course are desperate to make up the points deficit so unjustly inflicted upon them by the E.C.B. Notts continued to add  37 more runs with a partnership between Pattinson, who reached his fifty, and Jake Ball. Rushworth despatched number eleven Harry Gurney without delay but by this time Notts were 305 all out with a commanding lead.

Things soon got even worse when Ball dispatched newcomer Stephen Cook for a duck, caught in the slips, shortly followed by Burnham who was caught behind by Read. 8-2 soon became 24-3 when Fletcher had Richardson lbw and Durham hopes were almost sunk without trace. We took our leave at this depressing point, but last year's outstanding performer Keaton Jennings was still there so still a faint hope of recovery.

Earlier in the day our lunchtime walk, risking life and limb trying to cross the busy dual carriageway, took us to Ropery Lane the home of Chester le Street cricket club, who were opening the North East Premier league season with a game against Whitburn. Nice to see the ground where Durham played some of their earliest fixtures before nearby Riverside was built. It looked spick and span with new tarmac paths and seating round the ground.The home side were batting and doing well with opening bat Davis on his way to a century, but eventually the game ended in a draw.

Chester le Street pavilion at Ropery Lane
Riverside floodlights from nearby Ropery Lane