Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Let the games begin.....but when?

posted by John Winn

Looking back to its beginnings in 2009 four times the blog has reported on cricket played in England in March and five times in April, the latest date being Tuesday 6th April 2010 when under the heading 'First Match' Brian Sanderson described a game played at Headingley in front of a crowd that barely touched double figures and featured two sides of Yorkshire players. Brian reported a fine day but with a cold breeze which made watching 'uncomfortable. Eight years on that record has been smashed and it looks as though it could be Friday, the 20th before Tony and I see any cricket. If the forecast is to be believed temperatures tomorrow afternoon and Thursday should make even Headingley fit for play before Notts new captain, Steven Mullaney almost certainly exercises his prerogative and invites Yorkshire to bat.

Tony plans to be at Headingley while I will travel to Riverside where Kent, fresh from a mauling at the hands of Gloucestershire will be the visitors. On Saturday we will swap places, a day on which a few weeks ago our April fixture list anticipated that most league cricket would start. The impact of the weather has been such that of the leagues we traditionally cover a majority will not now hear the call of play until April 28th. Just this morning I received an email from the secretary of Cockerton CC with the news that the Darlington and District League has postponed this week's fixtures. It is probably safe to assume there
will be no more changes although the Halifax League, which has come out firmly against any delay, are still allowing clubs who fear their grounds may not be fit to report to the league by 10:00 tonight.

After what Tony described in a March posting as a 'winter of discontent' the last thing the beleaguered county championship was a rain affected start which of cause washed out the whole four days at Headingley. Just today an article on cricinfo talks of an ECB working party which will consider the introduction of a 'FA Cup style KO competition and the restructuring of the championship into a conference system'. Under the chairmanship of Leicestershire chief executive Wasim Khan the working party will 'discuss options for the domestic season once the new T20 starts in 2020'. The only certainty seems to be that Messrs Graves, Harrison and Strauss are determined to get their way and introduce this new competition. Boo.

Finally, just to show how late spring is this year these two photographs were taken outside my house, the one on the right a year ago today, the one on the left yesterday.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Revised dates for League Cricket opening matches

posted by John Winn

Saturday April 21st

North East Premier League, Langbaurgh League, Bradford League, Pontefract League, Yorkshire/Derbyshire League, Halifax League*, Aire/Wharfe League, Bradford Mutual Sunday School League, Dales Council League

Sunday April 22nd

Scarborough Beckett League (Premier Division)

Saturday April 28th

Yorkshire Premier Leagues North and South, York and District League, York Vale League, Wetherby League, Nidderdale League,NYSD, Huddersfield League, Durham Cricket League, Craven and District League, Darlington and District League

Saturday May 5th

Eskdale League

* The Halifax League have issued a statement firmly setting out the case for NOT postponing this Saturday's fixtures but clubs have until 10:00 tonight to let the league know if their ground is likely to be unfit.

Sunday, 8 April 2018

The waiting game

Posted by Tony Hutton

Still waiting to see our first ball bowled this season after the predictable cancellation of the game at Headingley between Yorkshire and Leeds/Bradford MCCU this weekend. This was the student's second wash out after their visit to Worcestershire was also abandoned. League cricket in Yorkshire seems to be getting later and later, with Aire/Wharfe league pushing opening day back from 14th April to 21st April and Yorkshire Premier League North and York and District League now starting a week later on April 28th. No doubt other leagues will follow suit as the wet conditions take their toll.

However off field activity continues to entertain us starting with the Northern Cricket Society annual dinner at Sandmoor Golf Club, Leeds on 20th March. The guest speaker was non other than Farook Engineer replacing the original choice Paul Nixon, who is now obviously busy organising Leicestershire County Cricket club. Farook was in splendid form with endless tales of his cricketing career with Lancashire and India.

The following evening at Headingley we saw a presentation by the Yorkshire Film Archive with a film originally shown on ITV some years ago following the fortunes of Pudsey St Lawrence in the Bradford League. Lots of familiar faces from the past in a wonderful documentary of the life of a league cricket club. However the highlight of the evening was the late arrival of Brian Sanderson, of the Yorkshire Archives Committee, hot foot from London with a mysterious parcel under his arm.

This proved to be a real treasure, on loan to Yorkshire from MCC, the bat with which Sir Leonard Hutton scored his record 364 against Australia at the Oval. Tony Moss, from Pudsey St Lawrence, Sir Leonard's original club, was obviously delighted to have the chance to hold this treasured memento as seen in the picture below.

The Yorkshire Film Archive is always looking for film of Yorkshire life from the past, not just of sporting events, but at least it gave me an idea where to deposit my old collection of sporting videos.

Saturday 24th March and we were at Headingley yet again for the Yorkshire county cricket club annual general meeting. Quite a pleasant occasion with assurances from all concerned that this season will be better than last and that a lot of hard work has gone into pre-season training. It was a bit difficult to take in all the projections for future repayment of the club's considerable debts, but there did seem a general air of confidence that things will improve in the next few years.

I did have some differences of opinion on social media last season with the Yorkshire chairman, but must congratulate him on his running of the meeting throughout with a general air of efficiency and humour as well. Well done Steve Denison.

Next on the agenda was the Northern Cricket Society's final meeting of the winter season with John Fuller, a professional cricket journalist who runs an excellent website - Cricket Yorkshire. John gave an excellent presentation of how he works and how he put together his recent book - All Wickets Great and Small - on grassroots cricket in Yorkshire. Very much a must read book for all professional cricket watchers. He also fielded very capably with a barrage of questions on all sorts of cricketing subjects.

Finally Friday 6th April rounded off this pre-season lull very nicely with an excellent Yorkshire county cricket club lunch again at Headingley in the Long Room. A very large turnout enjoyed a good meal with views of the new stand quickly growing before our eyes at the Rugby side of the
ground. Stars of the show were the two guest speakers Matthew Hoggard and Geoff Miller.

Hoggard protested that he had been put on a table with Yorkshire's Director of cricket who sacked him and former Chairman of England selectors who dropped him, but kept everyone amused with his tales of his part in that great Ashes win, after which the drunken celebrations went on and on.
Geoff Miller could have been a professional comedian and some might say he has had far more success as an after dinner speaker than he did as a player or test selector. However he really did have the audience rolling in the aisles with laughter at his stories of Derbyshire and England cricket from years gone by, including the famous snow stopped play game at Buxton. A great occasion.

So there we are - still waiting for the action to start - hopefully on Friday next when we might well be spoilt for choice, Yorkshire v Essex at Headingley and just up the road Leeds/Bradford MCCU v Derbyshire at Weetwood, the ground of Leeds University. Just hoping for some dry weather and even just possibly some sunshine.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

April Fool's Day

Posted by Tony Hutton

Thanks to John for his comprehensive fixture list for April. We feel it is rather appropriate that the first class season should open on April Fool's Day as having organised a pre-season trip to the Midlands in the hope of seeing some county friendlies, we returned home yesterday without having seen a ball bowled. We fortunately had an excellent plan 'B' which means that we already are in profit on our National Trust subscription for the coming year.

We started at Edgbaston last Monday, only to find that Warwickshire's three day game with Somerset had been been put back to start on Tuesday. We returned the following day when hopes were high and a fair few potential spectators were gathered in the excellent Tom Dollery member's suite where ample food and drink was available. The first hint that something might be amiss (not Amiss) was that the scorecard had no players' names on it.

The dismal scene at Edgbaston.

The ground was being prepared and despite the lack of a prompt start we thought play might begin before lunch. Creases were being painted, the large sheet covers removed and all looked well with the world until predictably the rain returned. By early afternoon play was called off for the day and the assembled throng reluctantly did the equivalent of the retreat from Moscow.

Our original plans, assuming a week of heat wave conditions, included optimistic thoughts of trips from our Malvern base to Bristol and Oxford where other friendly matches were scheduled. However while we did find some dry spells between the showers to visit local National Trust properties, particularly a fine day on Good Friday, it did not seem prudent to travel any distance in search of cricket.

We did however pay a visit to Worcester's Royal Grammar School, whose ground Flagge Meadow was due to host a first class match with Leeds/Bradford University starting today. I had eventually received an e-mail reply to my queries about parking, seating and refreshment facilities at this venue which to say the least were not encouraging. Certainly no parking whatsoever on the ground, street parking only I was told.

I had only visited this ground once before, back in 1992 for a second eleven match in which David Fulton of Kent scored a double century. Other than the fact that a canal ran alongside the ground my memories were rather hazy. We found a startling banner outside the ground saying this was now Worcestershire's second home - despite the lack of facilities and were not impressed with the chances of finding street parking anywhere in the immediate vicinity.

As it turned out a monsoon like rain appeared on Friday night and Saturday morning by which time it seemed impossible for any cricket to be played on Sunday (which has proved to be true) and in view of the forecast unlikely for the remaining two days. So we packed our bags and came home a day early yesterday in time to see Test Match cricket on TV.

April Fixtures

posted by John Winn

Sunday April 1st MCCU fixtures at Canterbury*, Edgbaston, Fenner's, Worcester RGS, Hove, Bristol
Matches at Fenner's and Worcs RGS abandoned without a ball being bowled.

Saturday April 7th MCCU fixtures at Southampton, , Fenner's, Loughborough, Merchant Taylors', The Parks

Monday April 9th Derbyshire II v  Warwickshire II (3 day friendly) Derby

Tuesday April 10th Gloucs II v Yorks II ( 4 day friendly) Bristol, Essex II v MCC YC ( 3 day friendly) Billericay, Northants II v Kent II (3 day friendly) Wantage Road

Friday April 13th
County Championship begins Hants v Worcestershire, Lancashire v Notts, Yorks v Essex
Kent v Gloucs, Warwickshire v Sussex, Middlesex v Northants
MCCU matches at Riverside, The Oval, Cardiff, Taunton, Grace Road, Weetwood

Saturday April 14th
North East Premier League begins

Monday April 16th Leicestershire II v MCC YC (SEC) Kibworth
Notts II v  Derbyshire II (SEC) Notts Sports Club
Sussex II v Essex II (SET) Hove
Middlesex II V Durham II (4 day friendly) Radlett

Tuesday April 17th Sussex II v Essex II (SEC) Hove
Gloucs II v  Ireland (1 day friendly) Rockhampton
KentII/NorthantsII v Warwickshire II (4 day friendly) Beckenham
Lancs II v Yorks II ( 3 day friendly) Old Trafford

Wednesday April 18th Glamorgan II v Gloucestershire II (3 day friendly) Cardiff
Somerset II v Worcestershire II (3 day friendly) Taunton Vale

Friday April 20th County Championship
Essex v Lancs Chelmsford, Somerset v Worcs Taunton, Surrey v Hants The Oval, Yorks v Notts Headingley
Derbyshire v Middlesex Derby, Durham v Kent Riverside, Gloucestershire v Glamorgan Bristol, Leicestershire v Sussex Grace Road, Northants v Warwickshire Wantage Road

Saturday April 21st most other league cricket begins including Aire Wharf postponed from April 14th

Monday April 23rd Lancs II v Derbyshire II (SEC) Liverpool
MCCYC v Northants II (SEC) High Wycombe
Kent II v Somerset II (SET) Polo Farm Canterbury
Yorks II v Notts II ( 3 day friendly) Scarborough
Hants II/ Surrey II v  EssexII/SussexII Southampton
Gloucs II  v  Scotland Bristol CC

Tuesday April 24th Kent II (SEC) Polo Farm
Warwickshire II V Worcestershire II (SEC) Portland Road
Durham II v Leicestershire II (1 day friendly) Brandon

Wednesday April 25th Durham II v Leicestershire II (3 day friendly) Riverside

Thursday April 26th MCCYC v Northants II (SET) High Wycombe
Yorks II v  Notts II (1 day friendly) Scarborough

Friday 27th April County Championship Hants v Leics ( Southampton) Lancashire v Surrey (Old Trafford) Somerset v Yorkshire (Taunton) Worcestershire v Notts (New Road)
Leicestershire v Derbyshire ( Grace Road) Middlesex v Glamorgan (Lord's) Northants v Durham (Wantage Road)

Saturday April 28th Kent v Pakistanis (Canterbury)
Wetherby and York Vale leagues begin

Monday April 30th Hants II v Unicorns (SET)  Saffron Walden
Northants II v Derbyshire II (SET) Ampthill (tbc)

Other matches in April (weather permitting)

Saturday 14th April (Friendlies) York v Barnard Castle, Driffield v Stamford Bridge

Sunday 15th April Lancashire League fixtures begin
                               (Friendly) Durham Academy v Yorkshire Academy (Barnard Castle)

Wednesday & Thursday 18th/19th April Durham Academy v Yorkshire Academy (Richmondshire)

Sunday 22nd April Royal London National Club KO (first round) includes the following:-
                                Clifton Alliance v Richmondshire
                                Doncaster v Harrogate
                                Stamford Bridge  v Barnard Castle

Tuesday 24th April (Bucs 1 day) Leeds/Bradford MCCU v Solent University (Weetwood) 11 a.m.

Wednesday 25th April (Bucs 1 day) Leeds/Bradford MCCU v Durham MCCU (Weetwood) 11 a.m.

Thursday & Friday 26/27th April Leeds/Bradford MCCU v Durham MCCU (Weetwood) 11 a.m.

Monday 30th April (Bucs 1 day) Leeds/Bradford MCCU v Cardiff MCCU (Weetwood) 11 a.m.

Monday, 26 March 2018

A sad end

posted by John Winn

If the above image seems a little familiar then it may be because I used it in a posting I made in January. The man in question is William Wilfrid Whysall, a stalwart of Notts for over twenty years and one whose career and life were brought to an end by a seemingly innocuous accident. He featured in my previous posting by virtue of topping his native counties' runscorers in 1927, and it was to my embarrassment that at that time I had no knowledge of 'Dodge' as he was known, despite him having played four tests, all against Australia

Whysall was born at Woodborough, a village seven miles north east of Nottingham, in 1887 and when 21 he joined the ground staff at Trent Bridge. Despite this relatively late start and three first class matches in 1910 when only once did he pass fifty, it was not until after World War 1 that he really emerged to become Notts' most reliable batsman in the twenties. In his last season, 1930, he made nearly 3000 runs and averaged almost 50. Whysall had a second string to his bow for he was a useful wicketkeeper and toured Australia under Gilligan in 24-25 and in the third test which England lost by 11 runs he top scored in the second innings with 75. After three tests on this tour and with an average of 37.20 'Dodge' might have considered himself unlucky not to have been selected again until 1930  when he played in the final Ashes test at The Oval. Despite scoring over 400 in the first innings England lost by an innings largely thanks to a double century by Bradman. Whysall made two very modest contributions, coming in  at three after Hobbs, in his last test, and Sutcliffe had opened. Salt was rubbed into WWW's wounds by criticisms of his fielding, a weakness in his game that Wisden had commented on as far back as 1911.

Notts' averages for 1930 show Whysall top and well ahead of the other batsmen and the feeling was that despite his 43 years and lack of mobility there were still plenty of runs to come from a solid defence based on a very open stance. Alas this was not be for in November of that year Whysall went to a dance in Mansfield and where he slipped and injured his elbow, Sepsis set in and a fortnight after the accident William died in hospital in Nottingham. Large crowds attended his funeral and a posthumous benefit raised nearly £1400 for his widow and children, a record for the county at that time.

Whysall's record shows he made 51 centuries, four in successive innings in his last season and he was amongst the five Wisden cricketers in 1925. Let Wisden have the final word in this extract from his portrait of that year.

'Whysall is a product of the new school, facing the bowler in the ultra-modern fashion. For this reason he will never look quite as good as he is. Otherwise he would not make such big scores.'

Monday, 19 March 2018

Now is the winter of our discontent almost ending.

Posted by Tony Hutton

Hopefully what seems to have been a very long winter, particularly on the weather front, but also in terms of cricketing controversies, appears to be coming to an end. Yesterday's snow is fast disappearing here in Yorkshire and despite endless pictures of cricket grounds under snow all over the country the new season is almost upon us.

Admittedly as John Winn has pointed out, some pre-season county games have already been postponed or venues changed, but that is perhaps par for the course with these games often being treated as part of cricket's secret agenda, with very little if any publicity. Come what may we will be making our way to the Midlands (often sodden and unkind as someone once wrote) next week with high hopes of seeing cricket of some description somewhere.

We are already aware that the three day game between Worcestershire and Leeds/Bradford MCCU on Easter Sunday has been moved from the County Ground to Worcester Royal Grammar School, last visited some twenty years or so ago for a 2nd XI game. Knowledge of what facilities are available seems unknown so far.

However, cricket has been going on unabated around the world during the last few days and I am indebted to our Paris correspondent (resting between jobs) for pointing me in the direction of Sky Sports coverage of Zimbabwe v West Indies today in The World Cup qualifying tournament. Good to see a big crowd enjoying the occasion and the home side having recently dismissed danger man Gayle might be in with a chance. Saw a bit of Ireland v Scotland in the same competition yesterday, what a pity only two teams will qualify.

Then again we have had the England Lions in West Indies and now we have games between the North and South which seem to stretch the geographical knowledge of the ECB to almost breaking point.

They have always seemed to struggle with neighbouring counties having fixtures at home simultaneously but the team selected for the North, which I always think of as north of the Trent, seems to take in most of the Midlands as well. Not to worry several young men will no doubt do well and may be on the road to untold riches in the game of the future. Nice to see Mr Gubbins of Middlesex, a graduate of Leeds/Bradford MCCU, get a century.

Yorkshire have been enjoying themselves on a pre-season tour of South Africa with plenty of runs being scored. Centuries for Harry Brook, Alex Lees (two), Jack Leaning, Tom Kohler-Cadmore and more unusually Jack Brooks, just to show his century at Old Trafford last year was not a flash in the pan. Also in South Africa are Leeds/Bradford MCCU with a new squad of twenty two players, details on their website, together with fixtures.

Another Yorkshire century maker this week was Joe Root in one of these ridiculous warm up games for the Test series in New Zealand. Meanwhile Kohler-Cadmore is off to Pakistan to play in the local T20 competition. Adil Rashid of course is going nowhere following his decision to abandon red ball cricket, but one can hardly blame him given the treatment he has received while on international duty. Something that does not appear to have been mentioned in all the press controversy is the fact that he has been given a benefit by Yorkshire in this coming season.

With hard line members calling for him to be sacked one wonders whether the benefit will in fact take place. A pity if it doesn't as it recognises the service he has already given the county over many years. All the winter's controversies have washed over me somehow, I could not summon up the energy to comment on them as with the latest on Mr Graves' position. We traditionalists have almost given up the ghost as far as county championship cricket is concerned, so let's just get on with it and enjoy it while we can.

Amazingly have just this minute received an e-mail to say that Warwickshire's three day friendly with Somerset is still on for Monday next March 26th. Let's hope it stays fine!