Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Controversial end to the county championship

Posted by Tony Hutton

First of all apologies for the delay in reporting the rather complex and controversial end to the county championship season. Family comes first and with my two grandsons celebrating their eighth and thirteenth birthdays respectively on the 16th and 24th September I was involved in two trips to Paris, with three and a half days at Lord's in the middle.

Despite all the pre-match conspiracy theories which robbed Yorkshire of Root and Bairstow due to ECB rulings (surely not Andrew Strauss alone), Rashid at his own request, for which he was pilloried by many including Michael Vaughan without knowing the full facts, and finally Jake Lehmann, recalled by South Australia, Yorkshire fielded a team fully capable of winning the match.I had seen the last two season's games between these teams at Lord's and was determined not to miss the third, something rather special always seems to happen.

John Winn has described the events of day one when we met briefly behind the pavilion, hardly recognising him wearing a tie! Gubbins was without doubt the Middlesex hero of the day, but little mention was made of the number of times he played and missed, particularly against the admirable Sidebottom. It reminded me of a century scored by former Middlesex man Ben Hutton at Scarborough some years ago when he never looked really in. Perhaps something to do with them both being pupils at Radley School (along with a certain Mr Strauss). The early finish due to bad light, which was hardly any different than when the match started, and the fact that floodlights are not allowed for county championship matches at Lord's added to the conspiracy theories.

Yorkshire must have been relieved when Bresnan had Gubbins caught at slip by Lyth early on day two but Franklin the captain, a very useful man coming in at number seven, held firm and his innings of 48 was a valuable contribution. Brooks finished off the tail and Yorkshire were probably happy with a score of 270 against them.

Things soon took another direction when Toby Roland-Jones no less (you don't get many Tobys in the north of England) ripped the early Yorkshire batting to shreds. All the more painful when you consider that both he and Gubbins were students at Leeds University and polished their considerable abilities with Leeds/Bradford MCCU at my home ground of Weetwood. Having picked only four specialist batsman, three of them in Lees, Ballance and Gale, all went for nought. 32-3 in no time, with only Lyth looking at all confident. When he went for 43, bowled by Finn, it was 53-4 and the many Yorkshire supporters on the ground in despair.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. That man being Tim Bresnan whose batting has really blossomed in recent seasons, his huge partnership with Bairstow at Durham last season being particularly admirable. He played carefully without taking risks and helped by Hodd, the wicketkeeper, who just missed a century at Scarborough recently, the two of them put on 116 runs before Hodd was lbw to Roland-Jones. Azeem Rafiq stayed with Bresnan until the close of day two when Yorkshire were 235-6, with Bresnan looking impregnable on 72 not out.

Bresnan celebrates his century

Day three began with Yorkshire needing to get to 350 to overtake Somerset's bonus points and to have any chance left of winning the championship. This seemed a very tall order when Rafiq was bowled by Murtagh for a fine 65 and soon followed by Patterson and Brooks. So 334-9 when last man Sidebottom joined Bresnan. The runs came in singles until bad light followed by rain took the players off for an hour with only one run of Yorkshire's target still required. Even the Almighty seemed to be conspiring against them.

On the resumption the vital run was scored by the veteran Sidebottom with a boundary to great relief among the Yorkshire players and supporters. The win was still possible. When Sidebottom was finally out for 20, Yorkshire had made an amazing score of 390, a lead of 120, and Bresnan 142 not out had played the innings of a lifetime and received a well deserved standing ovation from the large crowd.

The excitement was not over as the Middlesex second innings began with Robson out for nought, caught at slip by Lees of Sidebottom (his first wicket of the match) and then Nick Compton bowled by Brooks for one. Middlesex 2-2 and Yorkshire looked to be in sight of the championship. However, Gubbins yet again and Malan buckled down and safely saw Middlesex to the close on 81-2. Most onlookers could not envisage a Middlesex victory from this position and an early break through by Yorkshire tomorrow should bring them the title. The only alternative seemed to be a drawn game in which case Somerset would be champions.

On day four in perfect sunny conditions for the final day of this enthralling game Gubbins, batting with greater authority than in the first innings, and Malan batted throughout the morning session before Gubbins was surprisingly out for 93 caught and bowled by Rafiq. Malan went on to his century and Yorkshire looked to be running out of steam and ideas. At this point in the early afternoon I had to take my leave to catch my train back to Paris.

Time for me to leave!


I was unaware of the final stages of the game, the joke bowling, the declaration by Middlesex, Yorkshire's run chase and Roland-Jones hat-trick to finish the game and give Middlesex the title, until my train emerged from the Channel Tunnel and I received the final news, speeding across northern France, with a headline on my phone - Sidebottom bowled by Roland-Jones, Middlesex champions!

The subsequent debate started with e-mails from many of my cricket watching friends decrying the events of the fourth afternoon, fears for the future of county cricket, the loss of the spirit of cricket, Somerset were robbed and so on. For once the letters page of the Yorkshire Post had everyone in agreement that this was not a good thing and should not be allowed, almost the end of cricket as we know and love it.

My own reaction was slightly more mellow. While condemning the joke bowling, the situation was unique, the teams at Lord's had to achieve a result otherwise a draw would have handed the championship to Somerset. Sympathies to them, the perennial runners up who had beaten Yorkshire so soundly at Headingley last week. The two captains had really no option. A result was achieved and Middlesex, who have been the outstanding county side of the season, particularly their victories over Yorkshire at Scarborough and Somerset at Taunton, are worthy champions. Congratulations to them and to both teams for the three and a half days that I saw which will live with me for a long time.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Yorkshire held up. By Gubbins!

posted by John Winn

Problems with the overhead wires at Retford, which have bedevilled the east coast mainline in recent weeks delayed my arrival in to the capital yesterday to the extent that as I walked by the Nursery Ground at Lord's I heard Sidebottom's first appeal of the morning, alas turned down but I was soon seated alongside my friend and Yorkshire and Middlesex member, John Gawthrope. Divided loyalties for John? Not in the least and he was pleased as the next Yorkshire man or woman, and there were plenty in the ground, when Brooks sent Robson on his way with the score at 11. Sufficeint reason to repair to the Bowler's Bar from where we saw Compton go in the same fashion, lbw Brooks.

33 for 2 and the first point of the day almost in Yorkshire's hands, unlike the ball which at least three, possibly four times slipped through their fingers to hit the hallowed turf. Most expensive of these misses was to Rafiq at point off Gubbins when the Leeds/Bradford MCCU product had only 22. When bad light brought an early closure about 5:00 the very promising left hander was undefeated on 120, almost 60% of his sides runs. Yorkshire have packed their side with seam to the extent of weakening the batting, it appears as though Bresnan might bat as high as five, and the five pace bowlers restricted Middlesex to a little over two and a half runs per over. Willey preferred to Plunkett, went for 15 in his first over but then settled to concede only 39 off his next 13. Miser of the day, Sidebottom, gave up just 23 off his fifteen overs but he went wicket less, no repeat of last year's three wickets in his first over alas.

Meanwhile in the west the third team with designs on finishing top of the table, Somerset, who must have cheered when they heard that bad light had intervened in NW8, allowed the euphoria to go their heads and collapsed against Notts to a point where four batting points, let alone five, seem unlikely. A Taunton scoreboard that read 302 for 2 and 322 for four, this morning will show 322 for 9  with the last five having gone down at that score, Jake Ball the main destroyer.

Our Deputy Little Ouseburn correspondent reports that it is a fine sunny morning at Lord's with play due to resume in half an hour. This is the 'live table'

Middlesex  played 15 batting 47, bowling 37, 214
Somerset played 15, batting 43, bowling 38,   206

Yorkshire played 15 batting 45, bowling 40,   205

Barring an all run 28 at Taunton Yorkshire can draw level with Somerset with the first ball of the day. Time to fire up Robert Key and Nasser Hussain.

Monday, 19 September 2016

South North bring it north

posted by John Winn

Rather like Saturday's game between Warwickshire and Surrey yesterday's Royal London Club Championship final at Northampton was a bit of a disappointment, especially for the followers of Norfolk team Swardeston who earlier in the week had won the club T20 competition at Derby.

South Northumberland won the toss and batted being bowled out for 159 in 44.5 overs. Swardeston made a disastrous start and were 8 for 3, only two batters made double figures and they were all out in the 24th over for just 84 leaving Gosforth, Newcastle based South North winners by 75 runs.

St Lawrence catch the plane

posted by John Winn

On Saturday I spent a lovely September afternoon at Headingley watching a close fought play off between Pudsey St Lawrence and Great Ayton, the winners booking their flights to Abu Dhabi where they will meet the winners of the other playoff which was being contested concurrently at Scarborough.

Both sides had brought enthusiastic groups of supporters and there were a number of familiar faces among those who might have been considered neutrals. Perhaps as many as 300 of us altogether took advantage of the free admission but programmes, available for a £1 had a very limited circulation. PSL, who had I seen defeated just six days earlier in the Black Sheep final, and qualifying via the championship of the Bradford league won the toss and elected to bat. Their innings was anchored by Mark Robertshaw who batted almost three hours for his 93 but found it difficult to get the rate much above three an over. Harper and Allinson struck early blows to reduce Pudsey to 38 for 2 until a good stand for the third wicket brought them to a point where a score beyond 200 looked possible but the Ayton spinners kept good mid innings control and only Lamb managed a run a ball late in the order. 200 for 8 after 50 overs made me think Ayton were slight favourites but on a slow wicket only slight.

In the interval I walked into Headingley where the many cafes were teeming with customers, including Yorkshire bowler Jack Brooks, later spotted in the ground, enjoying r and r before the trip to Lord's this week. The Great Ayton innings followed the pattern of St Lawrence's, namely an anchor role from an opener, in this case NYSD top scorer Chris Batchelor who made 87 and was sixth out but like Robertshaw was never able to step up the scoring rate and finished with an almost identical strike rate. At no point were the team from the Hambleton District of North Yorkshire, qualified as the highest placed Yorkshire club in the NYSD, a contentious point with some pcws, up with the modest required four runs an over. Again the spinners bowled well, particularly Chris Marsden who showed no sign of the injury he sustained in the Black Sheep final and conceded only 18 from his ten overs. A few lusty blows from Marsay kept the pot boiling and with 18 needed off 2 overs NYSD hopes were alive but two wickets fell in close order and 13 off the last over proved too much for the last pair and PSL were home with 7 runs to spare, compensation for their losses in the Priestley and Black Sheep finals.

So the sun went down on another season at Headingley but I have yet to meet anybody who doesn't think that there should be one more match, namely the final of this four team competition. Instead it will be in Abu Dhabi and there, after warm up matches, St Lawrence will take on Wakefield Thornes who overcame Harrogate at North Marine Road. Spectator packages start just short of £1300, see you at Arthington.

Tomorrow sees the start of the last round of championship matches with the four first division games all of significance. Hampshire could survive with a draw but it would need Lancashire to give Warwickshire an almighty pasting or vice versa for that to be the case and I am sure they will regard it as a must win match. Durham need nine points to ensure fourth place, a repeat of last year's position, but fewer might do the trick. Warwickshire and Lancashire will find it hard not to follow events on the south coast and if Warwickshire go down it would free up a couple of my 'must see matches' in 2017.

At Taunton Somerset  take on relegated Notts knowing that by Friday night they might be champions for the first time of a competition in which they have competed since the late nineteenth century. If the wicket  is similar to those used recently then it is hard to imagine full batting points being won by either side and they too will be concerned about events elsewhere, namely Lord's where Yorkshire are the visitors. The ifs and buts of this encounter are best left to each individual's imagination but as if the current table hasn't been the cause of sleepless nights then the refusal of the ECB to allow Bairstow to play has thrown some red hot chillies into the pot. Bairstow has played only five days cricket in the last five weeks and will not play again until October and most importantly feels refreshed and last week Stokes and Wood, both of whom have had major injuries this summer were allowed to play for Durham, the former bowling his boots off on the last afternoon to guarantee his county another season in the top flight. Andrew Strauss along with coach Trevor Bayliss is a key mover in this decision and is likely to face some stiff questions from Yorkshire members at Lord's tomorrow, if he decides to watch his former county in action.

Long shadows at Headingley on Saturday.

Tomorrow sees the start of the last round of

Friday, 16 September 2016

Durham make it twelve in a row

posted by John Winn

Yesterday morning saw me driving up the A1 in murky conditions and it was only the floodlights that allowed play to start on time but the cloud soon cleared to present the faithful with a beautiful last day of the season at The Riverside and as last year the cricket fitted the occasion.

Durham began the day with a lead of 247 and two wickets in hand, a lead that Durham supporters hoped might be extended to 300 before Surrey batted. Carse played some nice shots but Wood and Onions made only modest contributions and the visitors were set 281 to win. Game on, odds probably even until Wood struck in each of his first two overs and then Burns joined Sibley and Sangakkara in the pavilion at 11 for 3 and South Terrace Block 5 began to dream of a finish by tea. Enter Ansari and Roy, who had put on 164 in the first innings, to guide Surrey safely to lunch and well into the afternoon by which time the odds had swung in favour of the brown caps. Borthwick, whose modest haul of wickets have cost over 50 apiece this season, was brought on by Collingwood when there were at least a few runs still to play with and at 154 after a stand of 143 legspin did the trick trapping Ansari in front for 51. Borthwick dismisses Ansari, two men who will be in competition for a place in the Surrey line up next year.

Roy, who impressed me greatly in this match, and Foakes went to tea 168 for 4, 123 to get and bags of time, Surrey's to lose but first ball after tea Stokes has Roy* caught behind to set up as good as two hours of cricket as you could wish to see. Two hours in which five wickets fell, Stokes bowled at his very best, ably supported by Onions, Jennings took a catch which should really have been Borthwick's, presumably on the principle that Scotty won't be there next year,Sam Curran who had taken seven wickets in Durham's second innings hit 50 not out and shortly after half past five we lept from our seats as Onions uprooted Footitt's off stump and Durham had won by 21 runs. First class cricket at its best and a win for Durham that not only secures them a twelth successive season in the first division but leaves them in a position from which they could rise to fourth and overtake Surrey. Not bad for a county whose financial situation has prevented them from having an overseas player, who are losing two of their top three batsmen to yesterday's opponents and where for the last three months ther have been countless rumours as to who else might leave The Riverside. Chuck in the second XI championship and the final of T20 blast and you might call it not a bad season.

The icing on the cake yesterday was that it was Darlington Eddie's 80th birthday, no finer present than a win over Surrey, the downside that Our Hartlepool Correspondent, that most dedicated of Durham members, had to leave early, the chains of office dragging him back to an important engagement at Hartlepool CC.

Finally tomorrow sees the semi finals of the Yorkshire Premier League with Great Ayton (NYSD) taking on Pudsey St Lawrence at Headingley and Harrogate (Yorkshire Premier North) facing Wakefield Thornes (Yorkshire Premier South) at Scarborough. There has been some misinformation about these games but  wickets are  pitched at 11:00, and admission is free.

* there was some disgraceful booing of Roy whe he was dismissed yesterday, he was given not out earlier in his innings by the umpire when to many he appeared to have edged a delivery and stood his ground as he was entitled to do.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Yorkshire second XI season ends with defeat

Posted by Tony Hutton

Tuesday 13th September - perfect day at Scarborough as Yorkshire second XI bring their season to an end with a three day friendly against Nottinghamshire. This was day two and gave us the opportunity to have a day off from the championship game at Headingley where Yorkshire were making heavy weather of their game with Somerset.

Day one had seen a surprise return to the Yorkshire ranks for Jonathan Tattersall, whose services were dispensed with at the end of the 2015 season. He came back with a vengeance yesterday scoring 101 out of a Yorkshire all out total of 232, as Yorkshire rather fell apart against the pace bowling of Kitt, Milnes and Brown.

Early morning heat haze

Tattersall, a former England Under 19 captain, has been in good form this season, not only for his club side Harrogate, but for Derbyshire 2nd XI and Lincolnshire minor counties side. Hopefully we might see him appearing for Yorkshire again next season.

View from the popular side

Today's play, in perfect sunny conditions in front of a modest crowd, saw plenty of action and it was good to be able to walk round the ground to view from different vantage points and to take refreshments on the pavilion balcony. Added pleasures were a walk in Peasholm Park at lunchtime, complete with ice cream, and a stroll along the North Bay cliff top during tea.

Familiar view of the pavilion at Scarborough

Notts managed a first innings lead of just eleven runs, after a dogged 55 from Dal and some effective hitting from Patterson-White at number nine. He took a liking to Karl Carver's left arm spin and rather spoilt his previously excellent figures by scoring seven fours and three sixes in an innings of 58. Carver eventually trapped him lbw and ended with 4-75 off twenty three overs. Opening bowlers Milnes and Kitt then added twenty for the last wicket and Notts were eventually all out for 243.

Yorkshire's second innings was woeful. Kitt, another Devonian, like first team batsman Jake Libby, destroyed the top order of Tattersall, Brook and Leaning and Yorkshire were 24-3 in no time. Only Ben Ainsley got his head down and made top score of 32, but when he was out at 87-6 the innings fell into terminal decline as Carter bowled eight overs of tidy off spin and took 2-2 before Kitt returned to finish them off.

Kitt's final figures were 6-43 and this was not the first time he has had success against Yorkshire this season. The all out score was just 107 and Yorkshire were facing defeat before the end of day two which caused concern amongst one or two of the grandparents present already booked into overnight accommodation.

To be fair, the homeside did fight back in the last session and Fisher and Coad produced a fine opening spell to reduce Notts to 24-4 with slight hopes of a dramatic home victory. However they could not make another breakthrough and with fifty runs still required the extra half hour was not claimed, no doubt both teams wanting another overnight stay in Scarborough.

Memories of a Scarborough and Yorkshire stalwart from the 1940s

The following morning, when we were back at Headingley for the last rites, Notts completed a comfortable victory in the end by five wickets, with young wicketkeeper Keast not out 26 and Carter not out 25. So good entertainment all round on a perfect summer's day in mid September  on Tuesday was a real bonus for the fifty or so spectators spread around this wonderful ground with the prospect of still two county championship matches next season, hopefully with more second eleven games too.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Arthington cricket festival fixtures

Posted by Tony Hutton

I am reliably informed that the fixtures for Arthington cricket club's end of season festival are as follows:-

Sunday 18/9 Halifax Nomads
Saturday 24/9 Jesters
Sunday 25/9 King William, Bishop Auckland
Saturday 1/10 Hawks
Sunday 2/10 Doghouse
Saturday 8/10 Cambridge Methodists
Sunday 9/10 St Georges Church

There seems to be some confusion regarding the fixture with Mutineers, originally planned for Sat 17/9 but possibly put back to Sun 16/10 because of Nidderdale League fixtures being replanned for 17/9. However I now understand these league fixtures have been cancelled.

All games are at Arthington cricket club near the church on the road between Pool-in-Wharfedale and Harewood Bridge. September starts usually 1.30 and October starts usually 1 p.m.