Tuesday, 23 October 2018

Yorkshire cricket - past seems better than present.

Posted by Tony Hutton

When you reach my advanced age living in the past often seems better than the present and this is certainly the case where Yorkshire cricket is concerned. Sunday afternoon saw an excellent presentation by Brian Sanderson at the Yorkshire Supporters Association meeting in the Long Room at Headingley. Brian had brought some very interesting items of memorabilia with him and talked at length about Edmund Peate, Billy Bates, F.S. Jackson and Len Hutton.

All four had outstanding cricket careers and were brought to life by Brian's admirable research and items such as Len Hutton's bat used in his record Test innings of 364 in 1938, supported by some very interesting archive photographs. Peate came from Yeadon, Bates from Lascelles Hall, Jackson was born in Chapel Allerton, Leeds and Hutton of course in Fulneck, Pudsey.

Unlike Hutton's old house which has a blue plaque on it, Jackson's house is tucked away and therefore has no access for people to see a plaque if there was one. Similarly Peate, although buried in Yeadon has no marked grave. A fascinating afternoon and a good start to the winter season of cricket speakers. Next on the agenda is historian Jeremy Lonsdale, author of an excellent book on the origins of Yorkshire cricket.

He will be speaking on this subject at Leeds Central Library (3rd Floor) on Wednesday 31st October at 1p.m. admission free. The next Northern Cricket Society meeting is on Tuesday 6th November in the Long Room at Headingley at 7.45 p.m. when Nick Cook, former left arm spinner and first class umpire will be the speaker.

Returning to the theme of Yorkshire cricket in the present, former players Alex Lees and Liam Plunkett have both got married recently. Johnny Bairstow has injured his ankle playing football in Sri Lanka (no surprise there) and is out of action for a while. Josh Shaw had been given an excellent recommendation by none other than Waqar Younis of Pakistan and tucked away at the end of this article on the Yorkshire website was the bald statement that James Wainman has left the club.

This is another very sad state of affairs for a young man who progressed through all the Yorkshire age group sides to the Academy and Second Eleven, but despite a few one day games was never given a chance by Yorkshire in proper first team cricket. He deserved a far better opportunity to prove his worth and it is sad to see him go, especially considering the signing of other county's rejects.

Down to the last over at Castle Park

posted by John Winn

By the summer of 1991 I had got the bit well between my teeth in pursuit of membership of the 153 club and towards the end of August in that summer I took in three matches in three days starting on the 20th with my first trip to Edgbaston where Warwickshire entertained Glamorgan. Solid batting all the way down the order saw the hosts reach 358 for 8, skipper Andy Lloyd top scorer with 86, before declaring in time to see the back of Glamorgan opener Steve James by the close. Warwickshire with an attack including Alan Donald finished runners up to Essex that year. A slow pitch ensured this game ended in a draw.

Next day it was over to the East Midlands and a trip to  Derby where Derbyshire faced Leicestershire. Just in time as it happened for by close of play on what was the second day it was all over with the visitors winning by an innings and 131. To quote Wisden 'Leicestershire, and Millns in particular took control on a green pitch....Millns, bowling fast to an excellent length made marvellously effective use of the conditions to take 9 for 37 the best return in England since D.L. Underwood's 9 for 32 at The Oval v Surrey in 1978.'

On the day I was there The Foxes built on their overnight 160 for 5 to make 392, a lead of 275. Top scorer  was Peter Whitticase with 93. Derbyshire were soon in trouble again with Millns picking up another three and he received good support from Australian Craig Wilkinson. Derbyshire who included Barnett, Adams, Azharuddin and Cork in their team fared only marginally better than in their first innings and were all out for 144.  Given that result it is perhaps surprising that at the end of the season Derbyshire finished third and Leicestershire second bottom. Lots of runs for Azharuddin, Morris, Barnett and Bowler and wickets for Mortensen, Cork and Malcolm helped The Peakites to their best position since 1954. Some of our Yorkshire readers (and Derbyshire) may recall their victory over Yorkshire at Chesterfield in the last match of the season. Whilst perhaps not too happy to be reminded of the result an unbeaten century by Simon Kellett may bring back a warm glow.

And so next morning an early start from my in-laws' home in Tideswell and a long drive to Colchester for my first appearance at Castle Park for the third day of three. What a day, lovely sunshine and one of those rare occasions when all four results were possible when Phil Carrick, for Yorkshire were the visitors, started the last over. Those there on the first day had seen another double hundred for Moxon, 200 not out at stumps when Yorkshire were 363 for4, support from Kellett and Blakey, and Moxon's score eclipsed the previous highest by a Yorkshire man at Castle Park, 156 by Sir Leonard in 1950.

Yorkshire added another 70 or so on the second morning but Stephenson and Prichard each got centuries in reply before skipper Neil Foster declared and I was lucky enough on the third morning to see another lovely innings by Moxon before a third declaration left Essex to get 319 from 68 overs, a more formidable target then than it would seem now. At 293 for 5, Stephenson falling just 3 short of his second hundred, it looked like Essex's game and I thought about leaving to make the tortuous journey back to my then home in East Sussex. What convinced me to stay, I remember not, but to this day I am glad I did not for the champions elect lost their last five for 22 and fell four short of their target. The wickets were shared equally, four apiece, between Carrick and Batty (J), but it was Carrick who took the last wicket with four balls to spare and make my journey home seemed much less tortuous.

I did return to Castle Park for in 1999 Peter Sixsmith and I based ourselves in accommodation at The University of Essex in anticipation of seeing a couple of days action with Durham the visitors. Alas the two days we had set aside were washed out and our very scant consolation was watching Colchester FC reserves take on their Brighton counterparts at Layer Road. Essex continued to play regularly at Castle park until 2016 but have not played championship cricket there for the last two seasons.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Saffron Spice

posted by John Winn

Living as I did for almost 30 years within a thirty minute drive of Eastbourne I was a regular visitor to The Saffrons  ground where Sussex had first played first class cricket in the late nineteenth century. Its unusual name derives from its use at one time for growing saffron, a spice derived from the crocus flower and which apart from its culinary use was also grown for dyeing and medicinal purposes.

A match that I particularly remember from those days, not least because it was played in 'wilting heat' as Wisden described it', saw Yorkshire as visitors in the championship in August 1990. Only one division in those days and three day matches .Sussex were strugglers at that time, they finished bottom of the table for the second time in four years and while Yorkshire rose from 16th to 10th a few months later the committee voted to relax the 'Yorkshire born' policy. Sussex had played Warwickshire in the first championship  game of 'the week' and lost by six wickets while Yorkshire had travelled down from Leeds on the Tuesday evening having been rescued from defeat in the roses match by a century from Ashley Metcalfe which left Lancashire needing 148 in 13 overs, a task in which they fell short by only 15 runs with three wickets in hand.

After the rigours of the previous evening's journey Yorkshire must have been pleased that skipper Moxon won the toss and even more so when he made an undefeated 213, the highest individual score for the county since Boycott had made 233 against Essex in 1971. Receiving good assistance from Metcalfe, Sharp and Robinson Moxon declared on 400 for 3 shortly before stumps on the first day. This left time for Sussex to be bowled out twice, nine wickets for Phil Carrick, six for Paul Jarvis. Sussex had needed to bat out the final day to escape defeat but once a good opening partnership between David Smith and Jamie Hall was broken  there was little resistance apart from 53 from Martin Speight. I remember being there on the last afternoon and thinking how pleased Yorkshire would be to get an early start on the notoriously poor East Sussex roads as they were due to play Essex at Middlesbrough the following day.

The defeat rounded off a poor week for Sussex for they had also lost their Sunday league match with Warwickshire by just two runs. Their batting averages that season were headed by Neil Lenham and Paul Parker, neither of whom played against Yorkshire. They were captained by Colin Wells, brother Alan top scored in the first innings. Peter Moores was wicketkeeper. Richard Blakey was behind the timbers for Yorkshire and he took nine catches in the match.

Things improved for Sussex in 1991 for under the captaincy of Parker in his last season before leaving for Durham they finished 11th. For Yorkshire however the reverse gear was selected and they slipped from 10th to 14th. A highlight of that season for me was being present when they won a nail biter at Castle Park Colchester against Essex. More of which in a future posting.

The Saffrons

Damp end to the cricket season

Posted by Tony Hutton

As it looks as if the Arthington Festival is coming to a damp and dismal end I can perhaps look back on some of the memorable moments of 127 days of cricket watching this summer. It was all a bit of an anti-climax last weekend when visitors King James' of Bishop Auckland called off early in the week due to that bane of cricket clubs everywhere - 'a stag do'.

So last Sunday we saw Arthington play a Stephanie Hewitt Memorial XI in memory of a young lady who unfortunately died at an early age. It got distinctly cooler as the afternoon progressed with nothing very special to report and we decided to leave between innings with the hope of more cricket to come this weekend but the weather had the final word.

Arthington scored a very reasonable 220-7 with a few batsman reaching 30 but no further. Andrew Stoddart, bowling in his cap, had an impressive economical bowling performance with figures of
8-3-19-1, but the afternoon felt something like going through the motions in front of the hardy band of spectators.

In reply the visitors rather fell apart after being 14-3, despite a fine innings of 38 from Asif Iqbal (a famous name) they slumped to 106 all out. Wickets were equally shared with three for Tom Conboy, two for Andy Conboy and two from Adam Pothecary. However the magic moment arrived right at the end of proceedings when Pothecary junior (young Adam) got a wicket by having the last man, Richard Wright, stumped.

The season started somewhat late due to the wet weather in April and the first championship match was Durham v Kent at Riverside, when the New Zealand Henry got twelve wickets to give Kent an easy victory. Then there were lots of runs in the Leeds/Bradford University season at Weetwood.
May brought us eighteen consecutive days of cricket, ending with a long awaited return to Hartlepool, before setting off on a tour of the Midlands.

Hartlepool cricket club.

A few new grounds to add to the list, as we visited Kenilworth Wardens, Hagley, Himley, Barnt Green, Lutterworth and Edgbaston in wonderful weather. A few impressive displays by Yorkshire Ladies at Harrogate took us into June with another Durham victory, coming back from the dead against Derbyshire. Late June saw good days out at Belper Meadows and Sedbergh School (always a delight).
Hagley Hall, Worcestershire.

We were then off on another trip this time to Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire for league and Minor Counties cricket, making the most of the continuing sunshine. Into July with a memorable trip to the north east to see Yorkshire over 60s at Shotley Bridge and the over 50s at Darlington on successive days. Then a look at the talent of the future with England under 19s at both Scarborough and Riverside.
Burghley Park, Near Stamford, Lincolnshire.

Late in July another Minor Counties game at Barrow, with lots of league cricket in Cumbria on the way there. Then it was into the Under 17s season, where Yorkshire excelled winning the trophy in the end with fine performances from skipper James Wharton. Throughout all this we were regularly watching the Yorkshire Academy on Saturdays where Wharton, George Hill and Tom Loten were consistently among the runs.

Yorkshire humiliated at Scarborough.

August brought more good performances from all Yorkshire's age group sides, only marred by the Yorkshire first eleven's dismal showing at Scarborough where Worcestershire really took them to the cleaners. They redeemed themselves somewhat in September by winning the Roses match at Headingley, but the highlight was really Durham's victory over Sussex when Chris Rushworth's bowling in both innings won them the match.

Cricket at the Riverside.

The Yorkshire Champions Trophy Final at Headingley proved to be a non-event, but then after a farewell to Paul Collingwood against Middlesex at Riverside, it was off to Arthington with five matches only due to the weather, but memorable as always.

So no more cricket to report on until Boxing Day at North Leeds, but John and I will try to find a few memorable moments from the past, or even some predictions for the future, to keep you entertained during the long winter months ahead.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Arthington Festival continues

Posted by Tony Hutton

Since my recent blog on the first game of the Festival, cricket has been coming thick and fast and helped by some very reasonable weather the regulars, and a few visitors from far and wide, have enjoyed the special end of season atmosphere.

Sunday 23rd September saw the visit of Halifax Nomads, of which little is known as they do not have a website and the club history published some years ago seems to be no longer available. However they had a few useful performers, one of whom Nigel Ling made top score of 58 putting on a good partnership with opener Kevin McGuiness who made 48.

The varied Arthington attack stuck to the task well with five bowlers, including veteran Dennis Nash, each taking one wicket and restricting the Nomads to 174-5 in their forty overs. Despite an accurate opening spell by Simon Mace for the visitors, Arthington cruised to a comfortable victory following a century opening partnership between Andrew Stoddart and Kamrosh Khan. Stoddart played the sheet anchor role for once and remained 65 not out at the end, whereas Khan was a little more adventurous and hit eight fours and three sixes in his innings of 60.

Two veteran cricket watchers in the background - picture by Mike Latham.

Arthington won by eight wickets with five overs to spare, but the following Saturday 29th September they were put to the sword by a strong Hawks team with a sprinkling of well known Aire Wharfe League players, as well as one of the top Bradford league performers in Charlie Parker of Pudsey St Lawrence. However another Parker destroyed the early Arthington batting taking 3-18 and reducing the home side to 46-5 at one stage. Joe Nash, the Arthington skipper stopped the rot with 29 but it was left to an eighth wicket stand of 60 runs to give the score some respectability.

Simon Mace (33 not out) and Adam Pothecary (30 not out) helped themselves to some more rather friendly bowling at the end of the innings. A shame that Pothecary's young son, Owen, who had been padded up for a long time, never got a bat, but no doubt his turn will come soon. Among the spectators today was Dave Lewis who used to bring his now defunct Doghouse side on regular visits to Arthington.

What followed could be described as total carnage, as the Arthington bowlers were put to the sword in no uncertain manner by Tom Lester and Charlie Parker. Sixes and fours flowed in all directions, many into the adjoining garden. Parker offered to retire when he reached fifty but his colleagues apparently told him to carry on. He was finally bowled to the delight of Andrew Stoddart, the only bowler to take a wicket, for 69 with seven fours and five sixes.

Charlie Parker offers to retire - but no takers.

Tom Lester also carried on regardless, hitting another five sixes and eleven fours in an innings of 85 not our. The Hawks winning this very one sided contest in only the sixteenth over. Fortunately in view of the early finish another match was in progress just up the road in the grounds of Harewood House, where St Georges Church were playing Cookridge Hospital. Two travelling professional cricket watchers from Lancashire were in situ, Mike Latham, who had also visited Arthington and Ian Cockerill.
Tom Lester finishes the match with another huge six.
Arthington photo by Mike Latham.

Harewood House photo by Mike Latham.

Sunday 30th September brought more 'foreign' visitors in the shape of our Hartlepool correspondent, Mike Taylerson and non other than Tony Day, aka 'Jesus', a very rare appearance after many years of absence. He hadn't changed a bit and was horrified to learn that my partner had stayed at home to watch the Ryder Cup golf on TV. Arthington were playing the Druids and managed to bowl them out for 129 with the help of South African guest star  James Van der Merwe, who took three wickets.

Dougie Jones also had three wickets and informed us that his father, Grand Master Rupert Jones, was out of the country playing chess for Papua New Guinea in Georgia, the Russian version rather than USA. Amazing what you learn at an end of season cricket match. Yet again we had an early finish with this time Arthington Knocking off the runs after being 9-3 mainly due to Van der Merwe with a quickfire 75 not out. Arthington winning by five wickets.

Hopefully today's scheduled game with Andy Stoddart's Mutineers will go ahead despite light morning rain and tomorrow we should see Kings James' XI from Bishop Auckland in action. The final weekend of the season sees games on Saturday and Sunday again 13th/14th October.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

More about Betty

posted by John Winn

In July I reported on a visit to Colwall Cricket Club in Herefordshire and was attracted by this plaque on the club pavilion. At the time I promised there would be more about Betty and here it is. To any fans of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, I can only apologise for any disappointment.

Elizabeth Alexandra Snowball was born in Burnley in 1908 and played cricket for England and squash and lacrosse for Scotland, The Scottish connection came through her father, a doctor and Betty was educated in St Andrews and later at Bedford College of Physical Education, now part of The University of Bedfordshire. After qualification she taught at St Swithun's School in Winchester, a school with a strong sporting tradition. Among its alumnae are the philosopher Mary Warnock and the radio presenter Fi Glover. 

Betty was encouraged to play cricket by her father and for a time, and I assume this was in his Lancashire league days, she was coached by Learie Constantine. She made her test debut at Brisbane in 1934 and played her tenth and last at The Oval in 1949, statistics which illustrate the paucity of women's test matches at that time. Her greatest achievement was in scoring a century at Christchurch NZ in 1935 when she made 189. No slouch either for the runs came in 222 minutes. That score remained a record in women's cricket for over fifty years. 

After her cricketing career Betty moved to Colwall where she taught Mathematics and coached cricket at The Elms School in the village. She died in Colwall in 1988, aged 80. The plaque is no more than such a distinguished cricket deserves. There are some further photographs of her opening the batting for England  with Myrtle Maclagan including one at Stanley Park Blackpool in Cricket Archive.  Her obituary appears on page 1214 in Wisden for 1990. 

Betty Snowball 1908 to 1988

Friday, 28 September 2018

End of the season or end of the road.

Posted by Tony Hutton

John Winn has already summarised the end of season game from Riverside, which I also attended, and has appropriately delved into the past which often throws up arguments which we need to recall in today's debate about county cricket. So many people are opposed to the ridiculous proposal for the so called 'hundred' and wish to protect the historic county championship that surely the powers that be must take notice.

We need to think who the 'powers that be' really are. It is not just the much maligned Messrs Graves and Harrison, but the counties themselves whose representatives attend the decision making meetings. It seems to me that these people do not really represent their clubs and supporters but merely nod their heads in agreement as soon as large sums of money are mentioned. It really is a failure of their duty of care for a very a precious commodity which has caused the current uproar.

As John has rightly pointed out the finish of the one game which went into the final day was happily televised by Sky, after a whole series of intriguing games around the county which all finished in three days. There currently seems to be a swell of opinion in favour of a regular county championship highlights programme, which I have long advocated, to promote the game which means so much to so many people. I can only commend an article by Jonathan Agnew in the new Wisden Monthly which recommends a return to a one division championship, something I agree with wholeheartedly.

However the outlook is not good and one cannot help wondering whether next season really will be the end of the road for county cricket as we know it. However rather than end on a pessimistic note I will give a few thoughts of my own of the game at Riverside, where Durham who were in the ascendancy for so long, contrived to lose the game at the death with a spectacular collapse.

Autumnal sunshine greeted spectators at the Riverside.

Durham v Middlesex has great memories for me as I watched the entire game some three years ago at Lord's when the Welshman James Harris had a memorable day taking 9-34 to help Middlesex to victory. This after Rushworth and Hastings had demolished the home side very cheaply. Harris will not remember this week's game with much affection after being hit on the head and withdrawn from the game for concussion checks. He did however manage to make top score in the Middlesex first innings with 31 out of a lowly total of 121 all out.

The most spectacular dismissal of the innings was that of James Fuller, yet another South African, once of Gloucestershire, who went down the wicket to Salisbury, played a dreadful cross batted heave and had his stumps re-arranged. Salisbury was the best bowler with 6-37 confirming the good impression he has made since joining from Essex, via Hampshire, earlier in the season.

Last man in and Middlesex soon to be all out.

Durham's first innings was built around another South African, Gareth Harte, who scored a workmanlike century, which included good partnerships with both Richardson (50) and Collingwood (32). Collingwood was given a resounding welcome from the Riverside faithful and the Middlesex side, who gave him a guard of honour. He played some characteristic shots, such as the push through mid wicket for easy singles, and a specialist cover-drive standing up tall to drive the ball to the boundary.
Paul Collingwood, always a tower of strength for Durham.

The crowd were momentarily silenced when Collingwood was given out lbw to the lively Ethan Bamber, one of several Berkshire products on the Middlesex books. They were soon on their feet however to applaud him all the way back to the pavilion. At that stage Durham were 201-4 but the momentum continued well until Harte was ninth man out for 112 and Durham had a first innings lead of 189. Thoughts were already turning to the possibility of an innings victory for the home side.

Chris Rushworth, Durham's player of the season will have a testimonial next year.

It was not to be and the final session after tea on day two saw the game swing back very much the visitors way. Not only did they clear the deficit, but were 66 ahead at the close of play with still eight wickets in hand. Steve Eskinaze batted beautifully until the nervous nineties struck and he was caught at slip by Collingwood for 96.  Middlesex added two hundred runs in the final session. Earlier Collingwood brought himself on to bowl and broke the stubborn opening partnership by clean bowling Robson to general acclaim.

The sun still shone on the last day of the season.

Nick Gubbins gave Eskinaze valuable support, while not scoring at quite the same rate. Having been 90 not out Gubbins fell early on the third day lbw b Rushworth for 91, but skipper Malan helped by Martin Andersson pushed Middlesex to a commanding total of 355, which meant that Durham required 167 to win. Thoughts of the extra half hour being claimed to produce victory for the home side were soon put on the back burner when Lees who had started brightly was out for 25.

Steel went into his shell completely and with Harte and Richardson soon gone as well it looked as though captain Collingwood was the last hope of victory. Despite another great welcome he was soon out bowled by Andersson for only 10 and took his last farewell. Durham were 67-4 and despite some resistance from Poynter the rest of the side subsided rapidly to the four pronged Middlesex pace attack of Murtagh, Bamber, Fuller and Andersson. 97-5 and as the long shadows from the pavilion reached the wicket Durham were all out just before six 0'clock for a miserable 109. Middlesex the winners by 57 runs.
Paul Collingwood strides out into the sunshine for his final innings.

Only three overs of spin were bowled in the whole match, by Durham's Steel and subsitute Rayner was not required to bowl, despite snaffling three excellent slip catches. A fascinating game throughout with the twists and turns which make championship cricket such compelling viewing.
The crowd wended their way home, with many farewells and wishes of 'winter well' all around the terraces. The fondest farewell of all of course to Paul Collingwood. One wonders how Durham will fare without him next season.

'Colly' says goodbye for the last time.