Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Byzantine, a variety of Greek,intricate, tortuous

posted by John Winn

With the prospect of some sunshine in the next few days and Tony having reminded us in yesterday's posting that in six weeks willow and leather will renew acquaintance, you might be feeling upbeat this morning but unless I have gauged our readership wrongly I am about to bring you back to earth. The source of my irritation is an article published in The Times last week by Elizabeth Ammon, aka 'Leg Side Lizzie', in which she reveals  details of the ECB's new Twenty20 competition to be introduced in 2020. The article is based on access Ms Ammon has had to a memo that has been sent to county executives.

As far back as July news broke that the ECB was planning a radical overhaul of English cricket and at that time it seemed possible that the changes might be introduced as early as 2018. By October the start date had been pushed back to 2020 in order that it would become part of a new TV deal when the current one expires in 2019. Driving the leaked proposals, the sweetheart of ECB Chairman Colin Graves and Chief Executive Tom Harrison, is the creation of a T20 competition that will rival the IPL and Australia's Big Bash, the basics of which are
  • Eight 15 man squads to include three overseas players, 13 of whom will be chosen via a possibly televised draft, the remaining two will be wild cards chosen after the Nat West Blast is finished
  • All county players, unless they opt out,  plus any overseas who wish to be included , will also be in the draft in three different salary bands
  • The tournament will run from mid July alongside a fifty over competition
  • The 36 games will be played over 38 days but England players will not be available as test matches will be played at the same time
The consultation document does not say where the 8 teams might be based and this is likely to be the most contentious issue. Ms Ammon's article goes into detail on the tortuous process of elimination required to get 38 down to the final 2,  and also touches upon issues like the replacement of injured players and the appointment of coaches.

There is no reference  to the county championship which presumably, if it survives at all. will be the bookends of the season. The article offers readers the opportunity to comment and here are some extracts

MR JRG Edwards   'utter Byzantine complexity, little if any thought has been given to the notion of supporter loyalty. 'the slow death of English cricket'

The Fox 'County Cricket died. February 2017 RIP'.

and in the interests of fairness and balance

David Harrington 'This is fantastic news! Maybe it could be the beginning of the end of the counties rule over English cricket. Now there's a happy thought'.

Access to the full article can be gained via twitter @legsidelizzy, retweeted on Feb 10th

Monday, 13 February 2017

Eventful time for Yorkshire cricket

Posted by Tony Hutton

As the 2017 domestic cricket season gets ever nearer several recent events have helped us prepare ourselves for something that is only about six weeks away.

First of all at a recent well attended meeting of the Yorkshire County Cricket Supporters Association we had a well practised double act of Dave Callaghan, 'The Voice of Yorkshire Cricket', and Martyn Moxon Yorkshire's Director of Cricket.

Dave Callaghan has an unbelievably heavy workload on BBC radio during the summer months, with live ball by ball commentary online on all Yorkshire games as well as frequent reports on all Yorkshire's various local radio stations. He is also in great demand during the winter months as a speaker and MC at various cricket functions throughout the county.

Martyn Moxon is also a busy man. Having recently appointed former captain Andrew Gale as first team coach and decided on Gary Ballance as first team captain, he has also been involved in a trip to Australia and the hopeful signing of Peter Handscomb, the new Australian batting sensation, for the coming season. Most of the supporters seem happy with the first two decisions, but there seems to be an element of uncertainty, as so often, regarding the overseas player.

It would appear that when Handscomb was signed he was not a member of Australia's one day side. Since then his success has led him into all formats and he may well be required for the Champions Trophy competition in England during the early part of the season. His availability later on now also seems in doubt. So this appears to be Mr Moxon's major problem for the coming season and it seems a bit late in the day to find a replacement.

Moxon did make the point that now is the time for some of the younger players to come to the party and to perform well enough at second team level to challenge for first team places. This is particularly relevant for the bowlers in view of the advancing years of the main seam bowling attack.

The next function was the Northern Cricket Society meeting for February at which the guest speaker was Paul Grayson, who was born in North Yorkshire and started his cricket career in the Yorkshire schools system before graduating to the first team as an all rounder. He was a right hand bat and a slow left arm bowler but despite scoring a first class hundred for Yorkshire could not gain a regular place and left to join Essex in 1996. He had a very successful career with them before becoming county coach.

                                                        Paul Grayson

He is now coaching the Durham MCC University side having taken over from Graham Fowler last year. Just before the meeting at Headingley last Tuesday he was being interviewed on Look North TV following his appointment as the new Yorkshire Diamonds ladies team coach for the coming season. This fits in very nicely with the University job as the ladies do not start until after the university term is over.

Grayson recalled growing up with the Yorkshire Academy at the same time as Darren Gough and had a few stories of touring with him in Australia with England Under 19s.
Grayson did very well on that tour with centuries in both Sydney and Melbourne. He also spoke about his two rather unfortunate appearances for England's full one day side in Kenya and Zimbabwe. Flown out as a late replacement to Kenya he was out first ball not long after getting off the plane.

Nevertheless he had an excellent county career with Essex as both player and coach.
Now he is happy to be back living in Yorkshire, with a son who has already played for Essex 2nd XI at Leeds University and a daughter who is trying hard to convert from being an Essex girl to a Yorkshire lass.

Two days later it was the turn of Steve Patterson to take centre stage with the opening event of his well deserved testimonial year in the form of a well attended lunch at Headingley. This too had been organised by the indefatigable Dave Callaghan. The MC duties were admirably performed this time by Harry Gration of BBC Look North.
After an excellent meal, followed by a raffle and well supported auction, it was time for three of the Yorkshire players to step up to the stage.

Bairstow, Brooks, Ballance and Patterson

New skipper Gary Ballance, England hero Johnny Bairstow and bowler Jack Brooks, now trying to become a TV personality, were all in the firing line as Harry Gration tried to get them to say something controversial. Ballance sounded very proud to be Yorkshire captain (and so he should) and didn't say anything controversial but made a good impression. Bairstow, as ever, spoke very well and again said all the right
things and Brooks provided the light relief. When asked which form of cricket he preferred he said he had not played T20 for two years and anyway one day cricket for bowlers was rubbish!

Steve Patterson

All paid tributes to Patto, the workhorse of the Yorkshire side, whose economic bowling as well as his consistent wicket taking has made him one of the backbones of the team. They may take the mickey out of him off the field, such as setting up a spoof Twitter account of 'boringpatto', but they were all full of praise for his onfield contributions. Good luck to him for the coming year.

The final item, hot off the presses today, was the appointment of Joe Root, the Yorkshire batsman as England captain to succeed Alastair Cook. This of course was not unexpected as Root was the obvious choice, but a little uncertainty surrounded the news that Stokes and Broad were being interviewed as well.

Joe Root

However Root now has the job with Stokes as his vice captain. This brought back memories for me from almost ten years ago when I saw young Joe score 88 for England Under 16s against an Australian School XI at Loughborough University. He had a good partnership with young Ben Stokes, who made 50. Also in the England side that day was James Taylor, then of Worcester just before he joined Leicester.

Root at sixteen, looked much younger - about twelve in fact, but in that match and throughout the following season with the Yorkshire Academy side soon proved that he was a class batsman. He may not always have had the power to get the ball off the square some times but that is obviously not a problem these days as he is now one of the world's best batsman. Good luck to him too in his new role, he will certainly need it for what in some ways is a thankless task. Hopefully his batting will not suffer and he will follow in the great tradition of Yorkshire batsman, created by the two men shown below.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A Yorkshire cricketing outpost

Posted by Tony Hutton

While friends and relations are jetting off to such exotic locations as Barbados and St Moritz for their winter holidays we prefer somewhere much closer to home for a short mid winter break. Where else but Scarborough of course. A quick look at the North Marine Road ground and hotel bookings made for cricketing visits in June, July and August.

A day in Whitby, still recovering from recent flooding, found a couple of excellent second hand book shops and a chance to browse through a few cricket books.
Came across Scyld Berry's recent book and was surprised to see a picture purporting to be of Lascelles Hall cricket club, rightly praised as the cradle of Yorkshire cricket.
However the picture, which I have seen wrongly attributed before, is certainly not Lascelles Hall, but a view from a ground on the north west side side of Huddersfield, probably near Huddersfield New College at Salendine Nook judging by the distant view of Castle Hill. I will consult our Huddersfield friends at our next meeting.

This was not the only mistake I spotted, coming across a copy of Alan Hill's book on Herbert Sutcliffe, I found a photograph of the Yorkshire team of the 1930s going out onto a ground which Mr Hill obviously thought was Bradford Park Avenue. Clearly it is not the Park Avenue pavilion in the background, but more obviously Fartown at Huddersfield.

All a bit surprising to find two such well known cricket authors probably being led astray by others who provided the photographs.

After the day in Whitby it was off down the east coast exploring the delights of Bridlington, Hornsea and Withernsea, before arriving as near to Spurn Point as one can get these days. Lots of protests everywhere against the large new tourist centre being proposed. A quick look at Easington where I spent many boyhood holidays during and just after the Second World war. Unfortunately the White Horse Inn was closed.

So it was back inland in search of refreshment to Patrington where the cricket ground has been on my list to visit for several years. It was easy to find on the south side of the majestic St Patrick's Church, known as the Queen of Holderness with it's 189 foot spire. The ground is appropriately named Southside and the club's website states that the church is regarded by learned scholars as the most beautiful parish church in the entirety of England.

Having taken my picture I will have to return in the summer to get another one with cricket actually being played. The club now plays in Division Two South of the greatly enlarged York and District Senior League after unprecedented success in recent seasons both in the East Yorkshire Cricket Alliance and two successive promotions in the York and District League.

Patrington, which is not far from the Greenwich Meridian and sixteen miles east of Hull, is probably as far east in Yorkshire that you can find cricket being played, although it only just beats the neighbouring village of Roos to this title. This all assumes that cricket is not played in Withernsea as the cricket club went out of existence as long ago as 1955. Cricket may still be played at Withernsea High School
but details are hard to find.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Not a new problem

posted by John Winn

Not for the first time I am indebted to my neighbour June Sanderson for providing me with source material for use in the blog for yesterday she passed to me an article from last Friday's Darlington and Stockton Times by Harry Mead centring on a history of Broughton CC in the 1930s by Tim Wear which is as yet unpublished.

Great Broughton is a village in North Yorkshire on the edge of the Nork Yorkshire Moors National Park. Broughton CC joined the Langbaurgh League in 1929, some 8 years after it was formed, finishing a commendable third in their first season. There were 11 clubs in the league that year. When the league reformed in 1947 Broughton were missing but returned in 1954 having joined forces with near neighbours Kirkby. A long period of successful membership followed and the 2016 table shows Broughton and Kirkby finishing sixth in Division 1, The composition of the league today reflects  its expansion north of the Tees and east to the coast but with only two, Crathorne and Thimbleby  of the original eight clubs surviving.

The inspiration for Tim Wear's book, whose father in law played for Broughton, was every amateur cricket historian's dream, namely finding a box of old photos in a cardboard box, enough to set Tim off on his research to the point where, in the word's of the D and S, he now has 'an impeccably produced manuscript'. The emphasis of Mead's article is on the problems village cricket faces today such as the loss of clubs and clubs being forced to concede matches due to the shortage of players but Tim's book offers evidence that these difficulties are not new. Broughton for example being unable to raise a side to play Crathorne in 1935. One weekend is recorded where three clubs couldn't put out a side.

The D and S article shows a picture of Tim holding his manuscript, at present contained in a ring binder. Let's hope it can be published as a book. Any of our readers unfamiliar with the Langbaurgh League might enjoy reading a history of the league which is available on their website.

What is not available at the moment are the 2017 fixtures but those for the Wetherby League have now been published. The league will start the new season without Bilton in Ainsty (York League) and St Chad's Broomfield (Aire Wharfe). Matches start on April 22nd with champions Kirk Deighton at home to Scarcroft.

Hartlepool Power Station CC of The Langbaurgh League

Thursday, 26 January 2017

The Sebastopol Cross

posted by John Winn

In the autumn of 2012 I carried out some research into the history of the Wensleydale Cricket League in which I was assisted by a number of people with connections to Spennithorne Cricket Club, members of the league from 1948, a year after its inception, until its demise in 1999. A name much associated with that club and the village was that of the van Straubenzee family who in the eighteenth century settled in North Yorkshire from what is now Belgium. The present cricket field was donated by Philip van Straubenzee as was the pavilion when the club reformed in 1947.

The family had strong military connections and Charles van Straubenzee was wounded at the Battle of Sebastopol in the Crimea but was able to bring back with him a remarkable souvenir, namely the Sebastopol Cross which today stands in the family burial plot at the twelfth century St Michael and All Angels Church in Spennithorne. Yesterday non cricketing business took me to Wensleydale and within a short distance of the village which gave me the opportunity to rectify an omission from my previous visit, namely to take a photograph of the cross.

The Sebastopol Cross

On a cold but sunny day I could not resist the short walk to the cricket field from where there are views of the church and Spennithorne Hall

And the sheep were enjoying good grazing on the outfield where cricket will be played on April 29th when Spennithorne and Harmby to give them their full title, will entertain Crakehall in a Nidderdale league Div 5 match, We might expect keen rivalry between two clubs who played against each other in the Wensleydale league many years ago

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A Remarkable Book

posted by John Winn

Tipped off by fellow blogger Tony, earlier this week I treated myself to a copy of a new book by Brian Levison entitled 'Remarkable Cricket Grounds',  described on the dust cover as 'a collection of the most astonishing places from around the world where cricket is played.' And it does exactly what is says on the tin for in the book, arranged alphabetically from Adelaide Oval to Yeonhui Stadium in South Korea, there are photographs of 78 cricket grounds each with a short history of its origins and development and each with some claim to be remarkable.

The reader has to turn to the last of the 220 pages for what is arguably the most surprising piece in the book, namely that the author has seen cricket on only six of the grounds. Never having seen cricket outside Great Britain I  can barely scrape into double figures but Tony, a much more intrepid traveller, is approaching half way. If the 78 grounds were to become part of a 'bucket  list' then you would have to be prepared to travel far and wide for more than half lie outside these isles. Not surprisingly hotspots like Australia and India are well represented but cricket grounds in St Moritz, Berlin and Rome are among the more unlikely venues. For those who take their cricket nearer to home a number of county grounds are included.

Talking to Tony about the book he said that it was the book he would like to have written. Had he done so then I have no doubt that he would have visited and photographed all the grounds included.

News continues to appear on league websites. The Wetherby League which originally hoped to announce its 2017 fixtures before December 31st now expects them to be available in the next week and in the Vale of York fixtures are with club secretaries for their perusal and will be released in February. Darlington and District were released last week.

Finally it is gratifying to announce that the memorial service for Nidderdale League stalwart Barry Gill, held last Friday drew a large congregation to Dacre Church and  there is a fitting tribute on the excellent league website.

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 cricketyorkshire.com 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