Sunday, 15 January 2017

Cricket in England in January

Posted by Tony Hutton

Delighted to see my first cricket of 2017 on Sunday 8th January with the traditional new year game between Malhamdale and Appletreewick. My first visit for about three years but the ritual is the same as ever, possibly with a few refinements. This proved yet another excellent day out in the wonderful scenery of the Yorkshire Dales.

The brief notice on the Malhamdale CC website suggested meet at the Buck Inn, Malham at twelve noon. We knew from past experience that this is only the start of negotiations, as a fair amount of ale needs to be consumed before the players actually take to the field. However this did give us the chance to partake of a very good turkey lunch, while we could overhear complicated conversations in the bar next door explaining the local rules which apply to puzzled newcomers.

Eventually signs of life in the farmer's field where a strip appeared to have been cut but in fact play took place alongside it rather than on it! Players, some still with pints in hand, and spectators gradually drifted out of the pub and somewhat reluctantly took their places ready for action.

The home side batted first and made a pretty good start. The number of fielders seemed to be more than eleven, but that did not matter, particularly as one of them held a large flask (presumably of alcohol) which seemed to be handed round for a compulsory swig either for doing something right or doing something wrong.

        Early runs for Malhamdale with the scenic Malham Cove in the background.

Dropped catches were the first offence and the poor fieldsman, both had to take a swig and then do a lap of the field. Similar swigs were taken when wickets fell and catches were taken, without the need for a penalty circuit. So it continued until one of the openers reached the magic target of 25 and was made to retire.

                                          More runs on the board for Malhamdale

Despite some rather erratic bowling, with most overs all from the same end, the cricket was being played properly and the score continued to mount helped by a good contribution from a new acquisition from Lincolnshire, Mark Harrop. He hit a couple of sixes as well as two fours and soon had to retire on reaching 25. I should have mentioned that another rule does not allow any lbw dismissals, but that didn't seem to matter either as two were bowled and two more caught.

Malhamdale ended their innings of ten eight ball overs with a reasonable score of 73-6.
By this time quite a large crowd had gathered and we met our friend Ian from Lancaster, who has been a regular here for many years. He was equally entertained by watching another event taking part in one corner of the field. This was a ladies' rounders competition between three local teams and was apparently just as exciting as the cricket.
                                                A good crowd enjoyed the action

Sadly the ubiquitous Steve Bindman, who played last year, was absent due to illness and we were missing the chance of watching him bowl in his rather unique style.
The visitors, Appletreewick, made a poor start to their reply losing two wickets in the second over. They were never really in the game after that, although three of the middle order batsmen, including both Stockdales, hit a six each, before four of them were run out and the innings came to an end with the score on 61-6.

So Malhamdale were worthy winners by a margin of twelve runs and no doubt everyone returned to the Buck Inn to finish the day in style.

A rather more low key game took place the following weekend at St Chad's cricket club based in Far Headingley, Leeds. This was a charity game in aid of Wheatfields Hospice played between two teams of St Chad's players and a few guests which included local M.P. Greg Mulholland.

No strange rules here and the game was played in a very proper manner with the majority of players in whites. The weather was fine, with clear blue skies, but still rather chilly, particularly out of the sun. It was suggested that the lone spectator in the picture above was frozen to his seat.

Deceptive winter sunshine tempts one bowler to wear shorts
It was rather difficult for the handful of hardy spectators to keep account of the score, which was being kept by one of the umpires with the help of an I-pad. Twenty overs a side was the objective here played on an artificial wicket.

       Aiming for six over square leg, but not connecting. Spectator still there!

The calls of lunch and warmth meant I left at the half way stages, but no doubt a fuller account of proceedings will appear on John Fuller's excellent website on Tuesday next.

Later that evening I was rather taken in by an e-mail from our racing correspondent, Keith Fenton. He said he had seen cricket on his way home from the races at Dover cricket club, with several sixes onto the pavilion roof to win the match. I could only assume he was returning from racing in France. Earlier today he put me right, he was on holiday abroad, staying in Dover, Barbados! Slightly warmer temperatures I'm sure.

                                           Dover cricket ground, Barbados

Monday, 9 January 2017

Things get sorted in West Yorkshire

posted by John Winn

There have been several postings over the winter dealing with the ramifications of the closure of the Huddersfield Central League and the dispersal of the clubs from those two leagues. Most affected by this have been the Huddersfield and Halifax leagues and there are now clear statements on the websites of both organisations as to how the new clubs will be assimilated.

Last week the Drakes Huddersfield Cricket League published its fixtures calendar for 2017 and having said in my most recent posting that April 22nd was the most popular day for the start of league cricket, I now see that DHCL will stick to their traditional third Saturday in April start and thus begin on the 15th. Six new clubs to integrate here and they find themselves in Championship Two which is the fifth tier of the league. Some will start the new campaign facing familiar foes for Cartworth Moor will be at home to Flockton and Holmbridge to Nortonthorpe, all four former Central league clubs, while Almondburians will host Rastrick and Edgerton and Dalton will travel to Shepley. The full fixture list is clearly set out on the league website.

A bold heading on the Halifax website '2017 Saturday League Structure Announcement' prefaces a detailed posting outlining the difficulties faced by the league in incorporating new clubs, especially those with only one team. The league has decided on a 12-8-12 split across the three divisions for both first and second elevens, something which has been made possible by the co-operation of Bradley and Colnebridge  who have agreed that their sole team should play in the equivalent second XI competition. The full structure is available at but as yet without fixtures. The composition of the Sunday League will be announced shortly.

Nearer to home, while mine at least, the Nidderdale League has also announced their fixtures and they will begin on April 22nd with 97 teams across eight divisions. The league has used the fixture launch to commemorate the work of the late Barry Gill with a slide show of some of his photographs set to music. A memorial service for Barry will be held at Dacre Banks Church on Friday January 20th at 11:30am.

Champions Ouseburn will begin their defence of the title with the short trip over the Aldwark Toll Bridge to visit Alne. Masham and Goldsborough are the newcomers to Division 1, two grounds that would grace any cricket league, and while Goldsborough entertain Helperby,Masham have a tough start at Burton Leonard. Interviews with officials of both clubs enliven the posting. There is also a piece on Wath and Melmerby who have been the shooting stars of this league and now find themselves in Division Two. The article does not close without reference to the league's only newcomers, Upper Wharfedale, who have moved across from the Aire-Wharfe and will begin their new life in Division 8, hosting Dacre Banks III. I have posted links to the article on both twitter and facebook.

Galphay and Winksley CC near Ripon who play in Division 7 of the Nidderdale League and will begin the 2017 season at home to Bedale II, 1:30 start.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Beginning to see The Light

posted by John Winn

With the festive season over and England's cricketers about to embark on the second half of their winter tours the pcw can begin to look forward to the domestic season. The shortest day is now two weeks behind us and in the evenings at least there are signs of lengthening days. A number of leagues, but by no means all, have announced their fixtures with April 22nd being the favoured day for the start of the season. There will be first class cricket (officially at least) on April 2nd which is a little over twelve weeks away and on the seventh of that month, for the first of several times during the 2017 season, I will need to decide whether to head north to The Riverside or south west to Headingley for while Durham will be entertaining DMCCCU, Yorkshire under their new management team of Gale and Balance, will host Hampshire, the luckiest team in the land, in the opening championship fixture.

For those who like their cricket to start in March some counties are taking on their local students before that month is out, Leicestershire v Loughborough U at Grace Road on March 28th for example, which whilst probably not requiring a strong police presence may just appeal to those with a decent top coat and a large flask of Bovril. Three men have been notified, the dog is thought to have a prior commitment.

Finally I must close on a sad note for the death was announced shortly before Christmas of Nidderdale League Life Member and photographer Barry Gill. The Yorkshire Post has confirmed that Barry, aged 64, 'passed away peacefully at his home in Summerbridge on December 23rd'. Barry and his tripod and camera were a familiar sight on Nidderdale grounds and always had a kind word to say about this blog. Our condolences go to his family.

This is definitely not one of Barry's photographs, it was taken in July 1949, probably with a Box Brownie, of a Haughton le Skerne 'Mixed XI' and includes at least three of the Marshall family including Haughton legend Horace of that ilk, extreme right standing, who along with my father did much to revive the club after the last war. My late brother Michael is peering over the right shoulder of the man who appears to have anticipated the arrival of the tank top by some years. It was taken at the club's Great Burdon ground where they have played for over a hundred years and where they will begin their defence of their Darlington and District League title in a little over three months time.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Boxing Day cricket continued

Posted by Tony Hutton

Judging by the surprising reaction to my two recent blogs on Boxing Day cricket this seems to have created far more interest than I ever envisaged. So on several counts I thought a third instalment might be called for.

One item of interest related to the record number of appearances in this long running fixture. This I believe is held by Johnny Lawrence, formerly of Somerset county cricket club and numerous league cricket clubs in Yorkshire. I am reliably informed that he made thirty appearances on Boxing Day but am not sure whether these were consecutive or not. Be that as it may, but it was mentioned at the game this week that the redoubtable Barry Singleton of North Leeds CC is close to beating this record of appearances.

I am hoping that Steven Bindman, who has been doing considerable research on the career of Johnny Lawrence, may be able to add more information on this topic. He may also be able to confirm whether Mr. Lawrence ever took a hat trick in the course of his thirty games.

However one amazing record which I am able to confirm is even more remarkable. That is held by my candidate for Cricket Watcher of the Year, Jennifer Ellison. She attended her first Boxing Day game, at a very young age, back in 1957. Since that time she has missed only one game (in 1964) which I calculate as fifty nine matches in all !

Jennifer Ellison

Jennifer is still a regular at Headingley and Scarborough, but really prefers to follow the Yorkshire Academy and 2nd XI sides, which she has done for many years. She travelled the country together with her late husband, John, watching 2nd XI cricket when very few others did.

In addition she also finds time to be a very accomplished proof reader for all my entries on this blog, which can be prone to the occasional spelling mistake.


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

The hat trick nobody noticed

Posted by Tony Hutton

Yesterday's blog on this year's Boxing Day match in Leeds set me off again as to whether anybody else had ever taken a hat trick in England on Boxing Day. Barry Singleton of North Leeds CC performed this feat yesterday and it will no doubt take some considerable research by the Northern Cricket Society cognoscenti as to whether anyone else has ever done it.

Barry Singleton of North Leeds CC

I can shed some light on what might be the very first Boxing Day hat trick, which goes back as far as 1955. I recently obtained, in a second hand book shop, a copy of a book entitled 'Village Cricket' by A.J. Forrest. To my surprise the whole of the first chapter of this most interesting volume concerned the Northern Cricket Society Boxing Day game in 1955, in which the author actually played. This chapter has the intriguing title 'The hat trick nobody noticed'.

He had been invited to play as a guest by the founder of the Society, Ron Yeomans, who was aware that Mr Forrest was touring the country writing about village cricket.
Ron Yeomans is described as one of the world's most ardent cricket enthusiasts, being the founder, honorary secretary and guiding spirit of the Northern Cricket Society which then had a membership of six hundred people.

To cut a very long story short, the match, which was then played at Alwoodley cricket club in Leeds, was interrupted by rain. NCS with such luminaries as J.R. Burnett and Brian Stott of Yorkshire together with Peter Rochford the Gloucester wicketkeeper made a total of 82-8. The Northern were captained by Johnny Lawrence, the Yorkshire born leg spinner who played for many years with Somerset and became a Boxing Day regular over a very long period of time. He might well be in the frame as another hat trick contender. The long rain delay between innings eventually ended and Lawrence enquired 'Who hasn't batted?', 'Yeomans' was the immediate retort.

So it was that Ron Yeomans opened the bowling with spinners which had not seen the light of day in recent times. He did however manage to take two wickets in the over, one with the very last ball. With all the comings and goings of batsmen, this fact had been forgotten by the time Yeoman's second over started and he immediately clean bowled the batsman with a full toss. The incoming batsman was promptly out lbw next ball. One more for the hat trick everyone said, unaware, as was the bowler, that he had already achieved the feat. The next man middled the ball and everyone thought the hat trick had gone.

Rain finally ended the proceedings with a score of 21-5 and about fifty players, friends and supporters retired to the Wharfedale Inn, Arthington for a buffet celebration lunch.
Speeches were made and a good time was had by all. The author, Mr Forrest, was entertained that evening by the Alwoodley Chairman, George Featherstone, whose wife had apparently served three hundred cups of coffee during the match!  The Trophy the teams played for yesterday is still the George Featherstone trophy.

At around 8 p.m. the phone rang and it was none other than the aforementioned Ron Yeomans, with the excited news that the Press Association had just checked the score sheets of the game and had discovered his hat trick! So to end this story I can do no better than to quote the author's words at the end of this very long chapter.

'Such triumphs of hope snatch some harshness out of winter. They do not just refresh us, but set our fingers tingling in anticipation of joys to come, next season's fixtures. May they go on and on, amid snow and ice, a symbol of cricket's indestructibility as the loveliest and most challenging of games.' I am certain he would be glad to know the tradition continues to this day - more than sixty years later and that another hat trick has been recorded.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Sun shines on Boxing Day cricket

Posted by Tony Hutton

Although the current issue of the Cricketer Magazine produced an article about Boxing Day cricket, they seemed to be oblivious of the fact that the most well known Boxing Day match in the country has taken place in the Leeds area for no less than sixty seven consecutive years.

Today's game at North Leeds cricket club enjoyed clear blue skies and sunshine, spoilt only by a chill wind blowing the fallen leaves across the ground. This was in marked contrast to the deluge which arrived twelve months ago causing serious flooding in many parts of Yorkshire. Amazingly the game did go on then, if only for ten overs a side, but the record of playing every year since 1949, whatever the weather, remained intact.

This year's game was twenty five overs a side. The visitors, Northern Cricket Society, batted first on the artificial wicket. Despite losing wickets at regular intervals they managed to compile a total of 78 all out, with just one ball remaining. NCS, fielding a somewhat mixed bag of a side of local league cricketers started quite well and at one stage were 54-3. However three quick wickets for Keon Williams were followed by a hat trick by the home sides slow left armer, Barry Singleton.

It must be stressed that the game is always played properly, with little room for comedy, however this was provided by the last over bowled by the inimitable enthusiast Steven Bindman. After fetching a couple of balls back as they never reached the batsman and extending the over with one or two wides, he managed to take the final wicket with his fifth legitimate ball. One which the unfortunate batsman will never be allowed to forget as he was stumped trying to hit the ball out of the ground.

Some impressive bowling figures then with Singleton taking 4-4, Keon Williams 3-18 and Mr Bindman will be delighted with 1-6. Top score for NCS was Andy Stoddard with 14, still a very useful performer with the bat despite his difficulties running between the wickets. A two never looks on these days!

    Fellow blogger John Winn (right) and our Hartlepool correspondent Mike Taylerson

The North Leeds club, aided today by several guest players, did lose two early wickets but after that they strolled to rather an easy six wicket victory. They unfortunately lost star man Harwood Williams for a duck and Robert Nelson for eight, but then a good partnership between Jamie Hughes and Barry Singleton  took them to within sight of victory, before both were out for 28.

Northern Cricket Society Chairman Andrew Mawson presented the trophy to North Leeds skipper Singleton, who also claimed the Man of the Match award of a bottle of whisky. The proceeds of the raffle, which was very well supported by a good sized crowd, including many professional cricket watchers from as far afield as Hartlepool, Lancaster and Huddersfield, go to the St Gemma's Hospice in Leeds.

                            Professional cricket watchers on the march.

'I've known it colder at Weetwood'

Friday, 16 December 2016

Ballance to skipper Yorkshire

posted by John Winn

Yesterday's announcement that Gary Ballance will next season skipper Yorkshire in all formats seems to have been met with approval. Naturally Gale and Moxon are fully supportive and Ballance himself expressed his delight and the honour he felt at being named as Club Captain. It is always interesting on these occasions to check how the man on the Headingley omnibus feels about the announcement and here too the appointment seems to have been welcomed although nobody appears to be in raptures. 'Sound choice and the right one', 'the natural choice', 'good choice' are typical responses and even the removal of Alex Lees from any captaincy duties is given a positive spin both by the coaching staff and supporters in that it will allow the Halifax man to 'rediscover his batting touch'.

Ballance by his own admission is not 'a massive speaker' but 'I will be looking to lead by example and get the lads to follow me'. Fine words butter no parsnips of course but he is a very experienced cricketer, 21 test caps, and Andrew Gale recalls how well Gary did in leading the side against Notts at Scarborough. Proof of the pudding and all that and the new skipper will come under close scrutiny when, 16 weeks today, he leads his side against Hampshire in the opening championship match of the season at Headingley.

Elsewhere I received a text from our Golcar correspondent yesterday to the effect that at a meeting on Wednesday six clubs from the Huddersfield Central League were accepted into the Drakes League leaving Augustinians as the 'only club in limbo'.

April 22nd has emerged as the day when most cricket leagues will open for business in 2017 and joining the list recently has been Yorkshire Premier League North. The two promoted clubs begin with home matches, Clifton Alliance will entertain Scarborough and Easingwold have the attraction of Yorkshire Academy as visitors to Back Lane. Match of the day here might be Sheriff Hutton Bridge v 2016 champions Harrogate.