Sunday, 22 September 2019

A new approach needed by Yorkshire

Posted by Tony Hutton

John Winn has summed up the events in Yorkshire's match with Kent last week very nicely. Fortunately I only saw the final two days and was spared the earlier humiliations at the hands of Darren Stevens and Sam Billings. Their partnership of 346 for the sixth wicket brought back memories for me of a match in 1949 when the Sussex pair of James Langridge and George Cox put on 326 for the fourth wicket and batted all of the last day at Headingley in a drawn match. Langridge made 133 not out and Cox 212 not out. Needless to say Yorkshire went on to share the championship with Middlesex.

So having followed the fortunes of Yorkshire County Cricket Club for over 70 years now I perhaps feel somewhat qualified to comment on the present sad state of affairs. It is disappointing to see in today's cricketing press quotes suggesting that the answer is to bring in two experienced batsmen from either other counties or overseas. To me this does not seem the answer. The recent policies of recruiting players from outside the county has failed completely. In my humble opinion only two of the recent recruits from elsewhere seem to have fitted in. These are Kohler-Cadmore and Fraine, who both had previous Yorkshire connections.

Many of my friends, like myself, are totally opposed to the importation of overseas players on short term contracts. Over recent seasons a whole list of failures have appeared, the only one to have distinguished himself was Maharaj, whose future seems clouded in uncertainty. The performance of the latest acquisition in the Kent match equalled that of Billings with centuries in each innings but of course off his bowling.

Yorkshire's second innings bowling figures. Only Fisher looks the part.

Surely the management should look at the latent talent within the county rather than outside. It was good to see Revis given his chance against Kent and to see that Tom Loten is in the squad for tomorrow's game with Warwickshire. These two along with Wharton and Hill should be the players that Yorkshire give regular games to next season, not just the odd token appearance. Give players time to develop and to gain experience. I for one would not complain if a young side were relegated, but given time and the ability to bond together as a team (which seems sadly lacking at present) for the long term future.
Matthew Revis, with head down, out for a duck. His day will come and if it is any consolation Sir Leonard Hutton made a duck in his first match.

Cricket is unfortunately becoming more and more like football with managers and coaches feeling that instant success is all that matters and the fear of being sacked if relegation happens overrides everything else. One final point, we are Yorkshire and should be proud of our traditions and history.
Surely our representatives should be leading the way in taking on the ECB and questioning their every action to ruin the game we love instead of sitting back and taking the money.

Back to the action on the field. It is difficult to forget that on day one Kent were 39-5 and managed to total 482-8. On day three their second innings seemed unduly prolonged before the declaration eventually came. Before then young wicket keeper Ollie Robinson, was unfortunate to miss out on a century, when dismissed for 97. Sam Billings, not content with his first innings century, went on and on, treating all the bowling with disdain and was 122 not out when he finally declared.

Darren Stevens, with rather good bowling figures over his shoulder.

Even so Billings' performance could not earn him the title of man of the match and this undoubtedly went to the wonderful 43 year old Darren Stevens - 237 with the bat and 5-20 with the ball in the second innings. When returning to his fielding position on the fine leg boundary after bowling another successful over he was greeted with a voice from the crowd saying 'why don't you come and play for us', to which his reply was 'well, I'm unemployed as we speak'. Not for long I'm sure.

By the way I forgot to mention that Kent won by 433 runs.

Yorkshire wither, whither Yorkshire

There was a cricket match at Headingley last week which proved a statistician's delight, a delight for Kentish men and women and men and women of Kent but one which has provoked dismay even anger among Yorkshire members. I was there for the first three days basking in the sunshine and on the opening day enjoying the batting of a forty three year old man who became only the second man aged over forty and the first since Queen Victoria was on the throne to score a double century and take five wickets in an innings in a first class match. Almost inevitably we have to go back to WG Grace to find the last time before Darren Stevens that a quadragenerian achieved the feat for it was at Bristol in 1895 when WG, then aged 46 and 303 days hit 288 and took five for 87 for Gloucestershire v Somerset at Bristol. Stevens, aged 43 and 142 days when he had his septimana mirabilis, scored 237 and took five for thirteen. The next oldest to register such an all round effort was 38* year old Ted Bowley of Sussex who hit an unbeaten 280 and took 6 for 31 for Sussex against 'Glos' at Hove in 1929.
September shadows at Headingley

Enough of stats, especially such that bring back memories to those trying to forget last week's events in LS6, events which were still being discussed at yesterday's cup final at the ground. The Yorkshire hierarchy have made all the right noises, Director of Cricket Martin Moxon has found the manner of defeat in the last two matches 'massively disappointing', and will 'try to bring in two domestic batsmen' for 2020. Coach Andrew Gale has used Matthew Fisher as an example of the sort of effort Yorkshire's players should be putting in  and between the lines suggested that there are some who have not matched Fisher's commitment to the cause. Skipper Steve Patterson 'hurting after Kent loss' does not exclude himself from his appraisal of his team, 'we were all very, very below what we are capable of.'

But fine words, or any other sort, butter no parsnips and if comments on White Rose Forum are to be believed then the next four days at Edgbaston may well have a significant effect on next year's membership numbers. Members can't sack Moxon, Gale or Patterson but they can keep their money in their pockets, especially if like me and many of my friends you only watch championship cricket which if the ECB has its way in 2020 may be covered by the BBC in a new Sunday tea time slot coupled with Ski Sunday. At least the theme tune's good.

In my local hostelry yesterday evening I tried to take a slightly more balanced view pointing out to John and John, yes three of us round the table, that Yorkshire could still finish third which would not be a bad show given the obvious superiority of Essex and Somerset. Nobody said fiddlesticks but it would have been an appropriate comment and at times like that I have to remind myself that according to Tony Hancock's rule only about one armful of my blood was made in Yorkshire, the rest north of the River Tees.

Yorkshire have announced their squad for the trip to Birmingham under the heading' Big Match Preview'. Bresnan is the notable absentee, otherwise it is the same as last week's twelve with the addition of Coad and Loten. Some I know would have wielded a more savage knife. Fisher was rested from the Yorkshire Premier League KO final at Headingley and he must be nailed on to play tomorrow and despite his absence his club side Sheriff Hutton Bridge beat Bradford League winners Woodlands at HQ yesterday by just two runs. Matthew's brother Adam top scored for SHB with assistance from Karl Carver and Ed Barnes. A feature of the day was some excellent spin bowling, Chris Brice for Woodlands and Carver and Dulash Udayanga for the victors. Perhaps the player most deserving our sympathy was Liam Collins who coming in  when Woodlands were 18 for 3 and seemingly down and out but despite suffering from cramp made 92 before falling to the very impressive David Henstock with the score at 194 for 8. A great afternoon and I suspect we might hear more about it from Tony.

* which I thinks makes him a tricenarian.

Friday, 20 September 2019

September sunshine at Scarborough.

Posted by Tony Hutton

Yet another clash of fixtures on Monday 16th September with Yorkshire taking on Kent at Headingley in the county championship and Yorkshire second eleven playing Durham seconds in a three day friendly at North Marine Road, Scarborough. Never in doubt where we would go for the first two days, as members of both counties, Scarborough was first choice to see a crop of promising youngsters in both sides, who will hopefully be the future of county cricket rather than the current rash of overseas mercenaries littering the first class game.

The view from the pavilion balcony at Scarborough.

It was slow going on the first morning as Yorkshire's batsmen, mainly from the Academy side, adjusted their game to play long innings. On a greenish wicket Wharton and Bean played cautiously before lunch, both getting into the twenties but no further. The innings of the day came from Academy captain, Tom Loten, with 64 in just over two hours, which was the top score of the innings. Ben Birkhead chipped in with a useful 42 at the end before being last man out following a tenth wicket partnership of 45 with Josh Sullivan. Yorkshire all out for 222.

Scarborough in the sunshine for two days was a delight and with an attendance of no more than fifty people it was a pleasure to enjoy the pavilion facilities with the splendid view from the balcony and time to peruse all the many photographs from the past on show inside the pavilion. In addition a brisk wind made the shelter of the pavilion the best vantage point by far.

The tea room stayed open all day, despite only a handful of spectators.

Durham's best bowler was Jonathan Bushnell, a product of Durham school, who showed that he can bowl at a brisk medium pace as well as bat. His figures were 15-3-34-3. There were also wickets for Weighell, Potts, Hanley and Whitehead. When Durham batted there was an early collapse to 53-5 but the experience of Weighell and Poynter improved things before Potts, coming in at number eight made top score of 69 not out, with Poynter having made 53. Durham somewhat surprisingly then declared behind on 206-7.

The empty terraces at North Marine Road.

The Academy quick bowler Dominic Leech had an economical spell of 2-21 from ten overs and it was good to see the leg spinner Josh Sullivan get the valuable wicket of Poynter. When Yorkshire batted again Wharton was out early on but Bean played a good innings of 40 to extend Yorkshire's lead. Yorkshire progressed to 126-5 by the close of day two, a lead of 142, with the prospect of a declaration the next morning to set Durham a target.

After we had departed en route for Headingley's last two days, Jordan Thompson's 76 and Ed Barnes' 34 not out set the scene for a declaration on 262-7 leaving Durham to chase 279 for victory. This they achieved by four wickets in 54.4 overs thanks mainly to Sol Bell with 109 and Bushnell with 69.
It may have only been an end of season friendly but several good performances on both sides gives one hope for the future.

End of the league cricket season

Posted by Tony Hutton

Saturday 14th September was the last day of the league cricket season in Yorkshire. With the four premier league titles already decided it was an opportunity to see cricket at a slightly lower level and we chose a gentle meander up Wharfedale calling in at couple of attractive grounds with nothing really at stake other than saying fond farewells to the season.

Cricket at Bolton Abbey.

First stop was at Bolton Abbey cricket club of the Nidderdale League, tucked away behind the rather up market Devonshire Arms, but surrounded by wonderful Dales scenery. The Dales Way long distance footpath passes alongside the ground on the banks of the River Wharfe heading north on it's long journey into Cumbria. Today's game was against Spofforth, recent recruits to the Nidderdale League, but with a history of success in the Wetherby League in the past.

The home side were batting and well on their way towards a useful total of 210-9 in their forty overs.
The major contribution came from opening batsman Tom Burton with 83, which included eight fours and three sixes. Not long before our attention wandered from the cricket to walk alongside the river for a while before calling in at the excellent cafe just across the road, which caters for walkers, cyclists and motorists throughout the year.

End of season sunshine at Bolton Abbey.

A few more overs were bowled and a few more wickets fell as the first innings reached it's conclusion. The players looked ready for their tea in the pavilion after a warm afternoon in the sun and we left them to it to drive a few miles further south for a repeat visit to Ilkley cricket club. Sad to say their next door neighbours, Olicanian cricket club, which we also visited recently, has since had their pavilion completely destroyed by fire. Even worse was the fact that the pavilion doubled as a nursery school for young children. This plague of vandalism which has affected many clubs throughout the country continued last week with a fire at Scarborough College's cricket pavilion.

The sad remains of Olicanian's cricket pavilion.

However the game was still going on at Olicanian, despite the lack of facilities. The game we watched at nearby Ilkley in the Airedale & Wharfedale League produced one of the most exciting finishes of the season. All seemed rather sedate with a low scoring game going on. Ilkley had been bowled out by Horsforth for 108, but the visitors soon fought back taking five quick wickets for just 25 runs.

A sixth wicket partnership then developed and just one over of spin seemed to turn the tide with 14 valuable runs coming quickly. Malik and Lambert took the score to 97-5 with only twelve more runs required for a Horsforth victory. Opening bowler Paul Dover than completed a five wicket haul by dismissing Malik for 36 and Myers for nought, to make it 103-7. Just six runs required. Enter opening batsman Robert Spivey, who had earlier top scored for Ilkley with 29. After four more runs had been scored he had Lambert caught for 49.

With two runs to win Spivey then dismissed the last two batsmen and Ilkley were the unlikely victors by the margin of just one run! So although the game had no real significance other than final league table positions it produced one of cricket's enduring pleasures which saw Horsforth snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. So all over the country clubs were shutting up shop for the winter months ahead, while the groundsmen were ready and poised to spring into action to do their work on the grounds. We hope they all winter well.

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Durham at Lord's (Part two)

Posted by Tony Hutton

Thanks to John Winn for his summary of events at Lord's where Durham pulled off an amazing win and are still very much in the promotion race to Division one with two games to go. As John suggests next week's game at Northampton will be vital and will be followed by a home match against Glamorgan to end the season at Riverside.

The Lord's pavilion.

No cricket season can be complete without a visit to Lord's and it was a pleasure to be there for the entire game which finished in the early afternoon of the third day. Suffice to say that the Durham players were still celebrating in the Tavern pub next to the ground at 6 p.m. when we called in for our evening meal.

Middlesex won the toss and put Durham in to bat possibly hoping that their new signing for the remainder of the season (a common trend unfortunately) West Indian Test bowler Miguel Cummings would get among the wickets. While he bowled quite tidily, he never really troubled the Durham batsmen, who got off to the best of starts with a fifty opening partnership between Lees and Cameron Steel. The fall of Lees' wicket, lbw to Harris, brought in Angus Robson the younger brother of Middlesex opener Sam Robson, playing only his second game for the visitors.

The new Warner stand at Lord's.

Things then began to turn back Middlesex's way as Cameron Steel, who had looked in good form, played on to Finn and then Cummings claimed his only wicket of the innings having Robson caught at slip without scoring. Gareth Harte was out to the last ball before lunch and it was left to the Australian Handscomb to improve the position with a useful fifty before being bowled by Tim Murtagh. Scott Steel, playing his first championship game, was lbw to Murtagh for only two and the tail then subsided rapidly to the pace of Steven Finn who finished with 4-41. Durham 147 all out.

Durham's backs to the wall in the first innings with the scoreboard showing 86-5.

First round to Middlesex you might say, but Durham soon bounced back with an early wicket, this time Carse taking over Rushworth's mantle, with the wicket of Gubbins before a run was scored. Rimmington soon got in on the act when coming on as first change and bowling Eskinazi for 24 and then it was Rushworth's turn having Robson caught behind and then Holden, after his big century for the seconds last week, caught by Harte at square leg. Middlesex in disarray at 59-4.

Scott Steel, on debut for Durham, enjoys Middlesex 0-1.

Worse was to follow for the home side in the final session when Ben Raine got to work from the Nursery End, not distracted by the demolition work going on behind him, with work having already started on the re-building of the Compton and Edrich stands. In just eleven balls Raine took three wickets, those of Scott, Simpson and skipper Malan. When bad light stopped play despite the floodlights being on Middlesex were left struggling on 87-7.

Overnight score on day one.

On day two the Middlesex tailenders flung the bat and picked up a few useful runs before Ben Raine added to his tally with two more wickets to end with magnificent figures of 12-5-26-5. Rushworth had 3-46 and Middlesex were all out for 143, just four runs behind Durham. The visitors opening pair again added a 50 partnership before the bowlers began to hit back again. However it was a sad misjudgement by Alex Lees, which led to his downfall. Setting off for a single, hesitating, then setting off again saw him run out by yards when Steel sent him back.

Lord's ground staff hard at work.

Cameron Steel made another useful contribution of 39, but top scorer in the second innings was Angus Robson, whose resolute batting for nearly four hours in compiling the top score of the match so far turned the game slightly back Durham's way. He was helped by debutant Scott Steel whose innings of 39, including six fours, proved equally valuable. There was little contribution from the rest but a total of 191 all out meant that Middlesex had to make the highest score of this bowler dominated game to win. They got off to a confident start when Gubbins hit the first two balls from Rushworth for four and ended the day on 21-0.

Rushworth bowling from the Nursery end.

The warm, cloudy weather continued on day three but cleared to fine sunshine by lunchtime. Middlesex had reached 31-0 before Gubbins was held at slip by Lees off Carse, who was generating pace as he did against Leicestershire in the last home match. Two of the main men, Eskinazi and Malan then went cheaply to Rushworth and Raine and Durham had the upper hand again on 45-3. The elder Robson, Sam, held the innings together for two and a half hours and the turning point came just four balls after the lunch interval when Rushworth got him to edge to Eckersley behind the stumps. Robson became the highest scorer of the game beating his brother by just one run.

Carse working up speed from the pavilion end.

Perhaps time for a word of praise to Ned Eckersley, as undemonstrative as skipper as he is behind the stumps. His move from Leicestershire has certainly paid off and his track record since taking over from Cameron Bancroft is exceptional. Now was the hour (or even less) for the man of the match to make his mark. Brydon Carse is a 24 year old South African who missed the whole of last season with a serious knee injury, but has proved his worth as a quick bowler in recent games.

Some people are on the pitch. It's not quite all over - but it soon will be.

In the afternoon sunshine he charged in from the pavilion end with the Middlesex score on 124-5 still requiring 72 more runs for victory. Carse had Scott caught behind before bowling Harris two balls later and it was suddenly 124-7. The travelling Durham support could hardly contain themselves when first Cummings and then the ever reliable Simpson were both clean bowled by Carse to make the score 139-9. A flurry of fours from the last pair took the score onto 151 before Carse finished
things off by bowling Murtagh to give Durham victory by 44 runs.

Brydon Carse, ball in hand, leads Durham off the field.

What an amazing finish with Carse beating his previous best bowling performance, against Leicestershire recently, with figures of 9.4 - 2 - 26 - 6. He led the Durham players from the field to tremendous applause from all present. No doubt the strains of 'The Blaydon Races' together with traditional bat banging on the floor was in full spate in double quick time. So an exciting finale to the county championship promotion race in prospect over the next two weeks.

(As ever click on photos to enlarge)

YPN too good for NYSD

posted by John Winn

Yesterday was semi-finals day in the KO  competition between the four Yorkshire ECB Premier League champions. This year the organisers were saved the embarrassment of the NYSD being won by a team from north of the River Tees for it was Richmondshire who had that honour and entertained Sheriff Hutton Bridge, winners of the Yorkshire Premier North. Less than an hours drive took me to Hurgill Road, a ground where I always enjoy watching cricket.

I was joined by Keith and Leslie from Darlington and tapped in to their extensive knowledge of all things NYSD and later by Starbeck Steve who is similarly on the ball when it comes to the various Yorkshire leagues. Richmond won the toss and chose to field and after a stand of 27 for the first wicket the decision began to bear fruit with the wickets of Louis Foxton and Ed Barnes falling in close order. Wickets continued to fall  and despite a bit of a recovery mainly through Dulash Udayanga, at 94 for 6 it looked like the Dalesmans' match to lose. 

Cometh the hour and all that, in this case Matthew Fisher, and the game changed very quickly. Stands of 43 and 57 for the seventh and eight wickets had the pundits shifting their positions and when the innings closed on 208 for 9 the hot money was on Bridge. Fisher out for 87 including four sixes. And that was as good as it got for RCC for they were shot out for 42, Ed Barnes the chief destroyer with four for 12 off seven overs and two wickets each for Mark and Matthew Fisher and David Henstock aided by  some sharp catches in the slips and behind the stumps. Top score was 8 not out for number 10 Craig Swainston and the highest partnership 12 for the fourth wicket. All done and dusted in one hour twenty minutes. 

Meanwhile seventy miles south another one sided match was deciding who Sheriff Hutton Bridge would face in the final at Headingley next Saturday (wickets pitched 10:30). This fixture was at Albert Terrace, Bradford, the ground of Bradford league champions Woodlands CC where Doncaster Town were the visitors. Here the home team had  been put in to bat and rattled up one short one of three hundred for 8 wickets with New Zealander Brad Schmulian leading the way with 122. Doncaster fared a little better than Richmond but never threatened such a formidable total and had no answer to the bowling of Chris Brice who took 6 for 20 off his twelve overs. I look forward to seeing these two in action at Headingley next Saturday. Let's hope for a closer contest than last year's final when Wakefield Thornes gave Great Ayton the run around. If last year is a guide then we might expect the game to be played on the wicket to be used in the Yorkshire v Kent match starting tomorrow and scheduled to last four days. We shall see. 

Friday, 13 September 2019

Durham at Lord's

posted by John Winn

Yesterday Durham beat Middlesex at Lord's for only the third time in a championship game. I had spent the first two days there, travelling home on Wednesday evening but I believe Tony was there yesterday and if so we can expect a fuller report from him in due course. Suffice to say it was a low scoring game with all four innings completed without two hundred being reached by either side. At lunch yesterday Middlesex looked favourites but we reckoned without Brydon Carse who after lunch took 5 for 11 in 4.4 overs. Surrey thought to be showing interest .

The win took Durham up to third place although this is not likely to last much beyond lunch today by which time Northants should have beaten Leicestershire, a win that will lift them into the promotion places. Durham go to Wantage Road on Monday on the back of an unbeaten run of eight matches. I am listening to the other game still in progress in Division Two where at Bristol Gloucestershire seem to be in a hurry to lose to Sussex. This will make the situation at the top of the division very close as we go into the last two rounds of matches.

The statistic with which I began the posting, namely that yesterday's win was only Durham's third in St John's Wood was quoted several times yesterday afternoon but without the additional information as to when the other two victories had occurred. One stuck in my mind because I attended on the second day and it finished in most dramatic way. It was played in the first week in June 1998 and Durham won by one wicket with Melvyn Betts hitting 'Tuffers' for six in the penultimate over and then running three off the next ball with 'rising star' Steve Harmison. The win took Durham up to the then dizzy heights of second in the table but  it was to be their last win of the season and they finished fourteenth, at that time their highest placing. 

Durham's second win at Lord's came in more recent times for we only have to go back to this time of the year in 2014 when Durham overcame their hosts by 141 runs. 176 for Scott Borthwick was the highlight of the Durham batting and Malan got 97 for Middlesex. I wasn't present on that occasion opting instead for three glorious days at Trent Bridge when Yorkshire clinched the championship. Durham finished fifth and Middlesex seventh. 

Perhaps a little of the gloss has gone off Monday's game at Headingley given the events at Taunton yesterday but assuming the key to the red ball cupboard can be found it will be nice to welcome back championship cricket to Headingley after a two month absence. Kent, fresh from mauling the hapless Notts yesterday will be formidable opponents. In the meantime I will be at Richmondshire tomorrow when the champions of the NYSD take on Yorkshire Premier North winners Sheriff Hutton Bridge. The Richmond website confirms wickets pitched 11:00.