Sunday, 27 November 2016

New fixture list adds to the confusion

Posted by Tony Hutton

I must admit that I have been somewhat pre-occupied in recent weeks completing my football blog for season 1953-54 (Grandad's football blog for new readers). This was a season when I followed the fortunes of League champions Wolves, cup Winners West Bromwich Albion and lowly Walsall who had to apply for re-election for the third season in succession. Enough of that, but thanks to John Winn for keeping the cricket blog going.
                                                                                                                                      Following the announcement of the county cricket fixtures for 2017 last week I have started work on my first draft of a cricket watching programme for the season. The first thing I noticed is how many gaps remain to be filled. I appreciate that the ECB's philosophy of trying to attract 'new' cricket watchers means that we must have blocks of fifty over matches and blocks of T20 games with county championship matches somehow squeezed in around them.

At least we seem to have more proper cricket in June this year, but the vast majority of county championship games seem to be either in April or September, when for most of the elderly spectators the cold weather can be quite a problem. That would have no effect on the ECB mandarins, still with their total lack of geographical knowledge and the fact that professional cricket watchers do watch other counties from time to time, apart from their home teams.

John Winn has already pointed out that during five of their seven championship home games Durham and Yorkshire are at home at the same time. However the classical case of this is the 5th September when all five northern counties, Yorks, Lancs, Durham, Notts and Derby are at home on the same four days. What absolute nonsense!
In addition the start days, which seem to be mainly on Friday, still change almost weekly back to Sunday again or in the case of Yorkshire's two visits to London a Monday start applies.

However I seem to have been making these same complaints for ever, so let's try to be positive. The gaps which already appear on my chart can be filled in with a variety of cricket for those of us keen enough to search it out. Minor Counties cricket, one dayers always on Sundays, three day matches on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday are always a delight, but again the fixtures, provisional so far, have only appeared for four of the twenty counties.

We have the fixtures for the major universites against counties, but again the inter varsity two day fixtures will take some time to locate. Finally if all else fails there will be an absolute plethora of MCC out matches on almost every mid-week day mainly against public schools again on delightful grounds for the most part. Age group cricket both for juniors and seniors also comes into the equation, so the gaps will gradually fill as the season gets ever nearer.

One final whinge. Last season I seemed to suffer more than ever before of having to listen to other people's conversations at cricket matches. I think it was Jean-Paul Sartre who famously wrote 'Hell is other people'. How right he was. Perhaps the ECB might attract more new spectators by introducing quiet zones at cricket grounds similar to quiet coaches on trains. Although I have a nasty premonition that these new spectators might turn out to be even more noisy ones!

Yorkshire Schools' Cricket Association

Posted by Tony Hutton

I recently received some very sad news in the shape of a letter from this longstanding and much respected organisation entitled 'The End of an Era'. YSCA was founded as far back as 1923 and has a remarkable record of running age group cricket since that time which has produced many cricketers of note. They include many who had success not only with Yorkshire, England and other counties, but a vast army of league cricketers whose careers were nourished at this early age.

Under the new arrangements announced for the coming season all county and recreational cricket will come under the banner of 'Yorkshire Cricket', i.e. the county club, who will operated an 'Elite Junior Management Group'. The dedicated team of Managers, Coaches and Officials is being disbanded, although I understand that many of the coaches are being re-appointed under the new regime.

It remains to be seen how the new system will operate and whether they will be able to generate the same level of funding which enabled YSCA to produce such a wide ranging fixture programme at all age groups. One example of this was the proceeds of the second hand book stall at Headingley run by Geoff Holmes and Vivien Stone which has been a great source of support for YSCA over a long period of time. In addition many Yorkshire members and supporters made generous contribution to the association's funds.

Having known Chairman Bernard Knowles and Secretary Harold Galley for many years, I am well aware of the time and effort they have put into YSCA and remember with great affection meeting them both at Weymouth some years ago in the middle of an Under 15s tour of the south west, which was always such a great part of their programme. The list of Yorkshire cricketers who made their first steps on the ladder at places like Werrington in Cornwall and other such grounds in Devon and Dorset is endless.

Fortunately all is not bad news. The YSCA is an independent body and will continue to run the six inter school competitions which attract more entries that at any other county, as well as the long standing under 19 Festival at St. Peter's School, York, now in its 48th year. In addition they will be running a new five day festival at Ampleforth College for an under 16/17 squad which will mark a welcome return to that splendid venue.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

More sad news

Posted by John Winn

After yesterday's posting about the travails of Denholme Clough CC more sad news has reached me, this time from the York Vale League where Stillingfleet, founder members of the league in 1933, have been forced to pull out of Saturday cricket. Unlike Denholme who have a good hand of players but no ground, Fleet have a large playing area and modern dressing rooms but are short of players. They had a previous period of absence from the league after WWII but since rejoining in 1967 have had 49 years continuous membership, the longest by any village club. They hope to keep the game alive in the village by playing evening cricket in the Foss League.

To sweeten the pill for pcws, or all the ones I know, Tony has pointed out to me that the fixtures for the Yorkshire Premier League South released last week include the dates for the semi final and finals of the Yorkshire Premier Championship, namely September 16th and 23rd which would suggest, Mr Holmes, that the final will be played within the Broad Acres and not in Abu Dhabi. Thank you Dr Watson.

Finally the county fixtures for 2107 will be released at midnight Thursday, which I suspect for many of us means we can look at them with our tea and toast on Friday morning. Those of you looking for Durham's first fixture remember you will need to cast your eyes as far down as the second division and if you think I've forgiven the ecb you would be wrong. 😡*

PS this is the 1800th posting on the blog.

*on some devices this face will be coloured a deep red

Monday, 21 November 2016

Last tango for Denholme?

posted by John Winn

Bit by bit the fallout from the demise of the Huddersfield Central League is being sorted out. At the Halifax League's AGM last week the four clubs who had made application were successful although with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Most welcome were Birchencliffe for whom all 29 clubs voted yes, Mount were less cordially welcomed, 19 to 10 and Bradley and Colnebridge and Leymoor came in between. The Halifax Courier describes how the new clubs brings the league's strength up to 34 but that a question mark hangs over the future of Division Two champions Denholme Clough.

Earlier this month the Keighley News  reported that Denholme's future was in doubt due to a steep rent rise imposed upon them by their new landlord which asked them to pay £625 a month for their Keighley Road ground. In an article dated November 13th Club Secretary Mohammed Yousaf was still optimistic of finding a new ground for 2017 but just four days later in a posting on facebook, my new best friend, Mr Yousaf announced the closure of the club as several possible new grounds were no longer available.This seems a remarkable change in the situation in just four days and one feels that we may not have heard the last of this story.

Denholme Clough CC

The next chapter in the Central League saga will unfold at the AGM of the Huddersfield League on December 14th, a league to which several of the displaced clubs have made application. As usual, watch this space.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Cricket in California

posted by John Winn

'Sir Charles Aubrey Smith was famous in the world of cricket before ,,,,becoming a universal favourite on the films,,,,,,,' thus began C Aubrey Smith's obituary in the 1949 Wisden. His cricketing cv was remarkable and included the captaincy of Sussex, captaining a side in Australia and the first English side to tour South Africa. His unusual run up gave him the soubriquet of 'Round the Corner Smith'. In his film career he was an ideal candidate for roles that required the tall, stereotypical Englishmen with a stiff upper lip.

Smith's two worlds came together in 1932 when he founded the Hollywood Cricket Club which played against some distinguished opposition including Australian XIs led by Vic Richardson and Don Bradman. Other famous actors who were members of the club included Boris Karloff, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant , David Niven and Laurence Olivier. Clearly the club was not just restricted to men for it numbered Olivia de Haviland and Joan Fontaine among its members. Whether the two sisters, who could not stand each other played cricket is not known.

The club survives to this day and is a member of the Southern California Cricket Association. A permanent ground was made at Griffith Park in Burbank, near the film studios but is no longer used for cricket. The game still thrives in The Golden State, however, for earlier this month LA hosted the World Cricket League Division Four Championship.

The competing nations were USA, Oman, Denmark, Bermuda, Jersey and Italy and they finished in that order as a result of which USA and Oman will play in WCL Division Three early next year with Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and hosts Uganda. Despite beating USA, Jersey are now relegated with Italy to Division Five where they will meet local rivals Guernsey. The other teams in that group are yet to be decided.

Jersey suffered an injury crisis in LA to the extent that team manager Tony Carylon (46) played against Italy in the same XI as his 15 year old son, Harrison. Losses to Denmark, Oman and Bermuda were enough to send them down.

The games were played at Woodley Park, the home of the Leo Magnus Cricket Complex which has five pitches, The Marder, The Wong, The Wright, The Severn and The Village Green. The complex is named after 'Jingles' Magnus a former Jamaican cricketer who played and coached in California. It is considered to be amongst the best cricket facilities in the USA and is located in the Van Nuys district of LA, a neighbourhood in the central San Fernando valley with a majority Hispanic population. Van Nuys High School, which disappointingly does not offer cricket in its sports curriculum, does have a link to Sir Aubrey however, for it numbers both Marilyn Monroe and Robert Redford amongst its notable alumni. Now be honest you didn't expect to learn that today.

Finally its time to start adding next year's fixtures to your 2017 diary. Some Minor County fixtures are already out and in league cricket the Yorkshire Premier South and Aire Wharfe dates have appeared in the last few days. The county fixtures are understood to be with the counties for their perusal and are expected to be published in a couple of weeks.

C Aubrey Smith 1863 -1948

Friday, 11 November 2016

One I missed earlier

posted by John Winn

I was alerted yesterday evening to another club on the move. As far back as March Knaresborough CC applied to join the York and District Cricket League and within a couple of weeks an EGM of the York League accepted their request by 69 votes to 8. In 2017 they will play in Division 1, just one step away from the Premier Division and two promotions away from the Yorkshire Premier League North. This placement will take them above Pannal who 'crossed over' from the Nidderdale league last season and give them local derby matches against Ripon who were promoted this year.

Why this move? Simple, the Aire-Wharfe league that Knaresborough leave behind are not part of the Yorkshire pyramid that leads to possible ECB Premier status. KCC were champions of the Aire-Wharfe for six successive years in the late seventies but last picked up that piece of silverware more than 30 years ago and three years ago were relegated to Division Two. Club spokesman, Jonathan Corcoran, speaking to the Harrogate Advertiser in April, believes that the change of leagues will attract better players to their Aspin Lane ground. Knaresborough played in Division Two in 2016 where they finished third behind promoted clubs Colton and Guiseley.

Monday, 7 November 2016

More clubs moving leagues

posted by John Winn

In a recent posting I referred to the movement of St Chad's I and II from the Wetherby League to the Aire-Wharfe. This inward movement has however been more than off set by departures, Illingworth CC, the only club in the A-W with a Halifax postcode, are going to where their address suggests they ought to be, viz the Halifax League, a league where they last played 96 years ago. Based three miles north of the town the club was established in 1884. It was with some sadness that, back in September the club played its last game in the AWSCL on the picturesque ground at Follifoot near Harrogate. Speaking to the Halifax Courier in January, Illingworth President Andrew Smith said that the decision to apply to move had been approved by a vast majority of the club's players. Illingworth will be very much at the centre of things in the HCL and they felt that they would prefer the 45 over game, a format to which the HCL is very much committed.

Illingworth were founder members of the Halifax Parish League in 1914, the Parish was dropped in 1926, but left to join the Yorkshire Council in 1920. Their  entry into the Halifax League along with the clubs joining from the Huddersfield Central will boost membership but any satisfaction arising from this has been tempered by the very recent news of the resignation of Old Crossleyans CC which has been accepted by the league executive. A report in The Courier speaks of friction within the 'Old Crocs' and the resignation en bloc of the committee.

Illingworth CC

Also on the move from the Aire Wharfe are Upper Wharfedale CC. A report in this week's Harrogate Advertiser says that 'following a difficult couple of years where the club has struggled to field two teams' 2107 will see them in Division 8 of The Nidderdale league. Initially the Grassington based outfit will field just one side in the lowest tier of their new home. UWCC Chairman Jon Slater expressed the club's delight at the readiness with which the Nidderdale League has accepted their application. If my calculations are correct their longest journey will take them from the Upper Wharfe to the Lower Ure, a distance of about 40 miles. Their local derby will be with Dacre Banks II, just a fifteen mile trip.

Upper Wharfedale

A number of leagues are holding their AGMs this month and it is expected that some of the changes I have described in recent postings will be confirmed at these meetings and other changes may become known. Expect a further posting on this topic when there is more definite news.