Thursday, 29 June 2017

Behind the pink ball

posted by John Winn

I went to Headingley on Monday for the first day/night of the championship match, to be played with the much discussed pink ball and with Surrey the visitors. Arriving at 1:00, an hour before wickets were due to be pitched I found  a surprisingly large crowd had assembled. This was put down in part at least to the EGM that had been held at noon but perhaps an additional factor could be that old habits die hard and that those conditioned to years of 11::00 starts had had difficulty filling in the morning.

As is their right Surrey had insisted on a toss and on calling correctly Gareth Batty had given his powerful batting line up first taste of a Headingley wicket situated towards the east side. Whilst we were pretty sure of a full six hours play the weather map for the remaining three days showed little other than blue and so it has proved and as I type, 7:30 Thursday morning, rain has started to fall again in the Lower Ure Valley. Surrey cashed in against an attack shorn of Sidebottom who carried the drinks and which had given up 446 runs in one innings at Lord's the previous week. Led of course by Sangakarra who has almost certainly ended his Headingley career 180 not out and with good support from Burns and Roy, Surrey declared on 516 for 7. There was just time for Lyth to get out, and you may be surprised that he has a lower average than Lees at this point of the season, before rain intervened as it has done ever since and made it unlikely that Surrey can get the 19 wickets they need for victory.

So much for the cricket, what of the experiment? Championship cricket is on the ropes with fewer matches this season and a possible further reduction to come in 2020 when it is believed the traditional form of the game will be confined to spring and early autumn with as much as a three month gap where they will be no four day cricket. With this in mind, whist not exactly welcoming the experiment, I was prepared to give it a go with the pill sweetened by the availability of some
test players and the fact that all 18 counties would be involved. Outwardly the aim was to attract a post work audience although the more cynical felt that it was primarily an opportunity to give test players practice against the pink ball. The change in start time presented some problems for the administrators, not least what to call the intervals for while the scorecard called the first interval lunch and the second one tea the pa informed us that we had forty minutes for tea, too long, and twenty minutes for dinner, far too short.

I left the ground at 8:30,  many others had left before, and enjoyed a much easier journey home thanks to the lateness of the hour and was able to listen to commentary on Five Live Sports Extra led by the admirable Kevin Howells. Their main concern seems to have been with the issue of visibility both from the players' point of view and from the commentary box. With midsummer chosen for the trial dusk rather than darkness was likely to be prevalent at close of play and  having spent some time trawling twitter and county websites this issue has been mentioned frequently and sighting the ball seems to be most difficult when neither daylight nor floodlight are in the ascendancy particularly against the background of the grass. Listening yesterday evening to commentary on Warwickshire v Lancashire the unusually high number of dropped catches was mentioned and attention was drawn to the Hampshire match where it seemed at one point that Somerset would have to restart their innings at 8:30 with the score at 135 for 8. Hardly a welcoming prospect but one which was avoided by the return of the rain.

What of the ball itself? The jury is still out here for at one extreme we have records at Chelmsford where Essex hit 542 for 3 against a Middlesex attack that bowled Yorkshire out cheaply twice last week, Surrey's 516 for 7 and Umeed's century for Warwickshire which lasted for more than seven hours. Compare this with the situation at The Riverside on Monday where Durham with their strongest batting line up of the season found themselves on the first afternoon 18 for 5 and then 64 for 7. When Worcestershire batted they sent in Hastings at three and Leach at four to knock some of the gloss of the ball and protect the regular batsmen from any excessive swing. Presumably with the same intention Buttler opened for Lancs last night.

What of the crowds for these 9  matches? Certainly in the north only Monday can be used as a measure and 491 came into Headingley after the watershed but overall the crowd was roughly what YCCC would expect for such a match. Essex riding high, and with a tradition of good evening crowds, reported a 'slightly high than usual' turnout and this seems to have been the pattern. Hundreds rather than thousands being drawn in by the lure of evening cricket at a reduced price but off set by people leaving early to catch a bus or train, not wanting too be too late home, perhaps even in this age of 24/7 employment to go to work or any other of the many reasons that people leave championship cricket before stumps, reasons very often particular to the individual.

Finally I have just opened my copy of The Guardian which contains a report of events at Chelmsford but no other matches are covered other than in the scoreboard section and here for example Lancashire are shown as being on 95 for 2 whereas in fact they are 178 for 4, a lead of 130 over The Bears. In other words The Guardian's coverage of county cricket is even worse than usual, an unforeseen downside of the experiment. Will it be repeated? Impossible for me to say but I would hope that the ECB will do a proper survey to gauge reaction including the opinions of the 80000 or so county members before any decision is taken.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

July fixtures

posted by John Winn and Tony Hutton

Saturday July 1st Royal London Cup Final Lord's

Sunday 2nd July Rudgate Cup (Yorkshire Leagues) Quarter finals
York v Stamford Bridge, Treeton v Harrogate, Sheffield Collegiate v Yorks Academy
and Appleby Frodingham v Wickersley
Atkinson Swires Cup Quarter Finals including Masham v Ouseburn (at West Tanfield)

Monday 3rd July ( 4 days)  County Championship Div 1
Yorkshire v Somerset Scarborough
Div 2
Derbyshire v Durham Chesterfield

Tuesday 4th July (3 days)
Yorkshire Academy v Scotland (Weetwood, Leeds)

Wednesday 5th July
Yorkshire over 50s v Durham over 50s (Harrogate)

Thursday 6th July
Yorks II v Durham II T20x2  Marske

Friday 7th July
T20 Blast starts
Yorkshire over 60s v Australia over 60s (Harrogate)
Yorkshire Gentlemen v Harrow Wanderers (Escrick Park)

Sunday 9th July
Village Cup Round 6 including Falkland (Fife) v Sessay
Heavy Woollen Cup semi-finals -
Townville v Woodlands, Kirkburton v Hoylandswaine
Yorkshire League North T20 Finals day at Scarborough
Durham over 60s v Australia over 60s (Burnopfield)

Monday 10th July
St Peter's, York Cricket Week Yorks U19 v MCC
Yorks II v Northants II T20x2 Pudsey Congs
Lancashire under 19s v New South Wales Schools (Todmorden) - 2 days

Tuesday 11th July
St Peter's Yorks U19 v Lincolnshire Academy
Yorkshire II v Northants II (York) - 3 days
Derby II v Durham II (Belper Meadows) - 3 days
Lancashire under 17s v Yorkshire under 17s (Northern CC, Crosby) - 3 days

Wednesday 12th July
St  Peter's Yorks U19 v New South Wales Sydney Schools

Thursday 13th July
St Peter's  Yorks U19 v Lancashire Cricket Board U19
Selby CC  v MCC (150th anniversary)
Last Headingley Evening League fixtures

Friday 14th July
St Peter's  York's U19 v Durham Academy

Sunday 16th July
National Club Championship Last 16 - including Hyde v Hanging Heaton
Minor Counties Cumberland v Northumberland Furness CC, Barrow (3 days)
Minor Counties Cheshire v Wales (Alderley Edge) - 3 days
Sewerby v Yorkshire XI T20 (Steve Patterson Testimonial match)

Monday 17th July
Durham II v Warwicks II T20x2 South Northumberland, Gosforth
Notts II v Derby II T20x2 Worksop College

Tuesday 18th July
Durham II v Warwicks II (3 days) SEC South Northumberland, Gosforth
Yorkshire under 17s v Durham under 17s (Weetwood, Leeds) - 3 days
NYSD League under 21s v MCC (Thornaby)

Thursday 20th July
Womens World Cup semi-final (Derby)
North East Premier League under 21s v MCC (Stockton)
Headingley Evening League play offs.

Friday 21st July
Pennine League under 21s v MCC (Middleton)

Sunday 23rd July
Womens World Cup Final (Lord's)
England Under 19s v India Under 19s (Chesterfield) - 4 days
Village Knock out quarter finals
Black Sheep Trophy Semi Finals
York v Harrogate and Pudsey St Lawrence v Wakefield Thornes
Home Guard Cup Final (Forge Valley CC, Nr Scarborough)

Wednesday 26th July
Durham U19 v Yorks U19 Seaton Carew (2 days)
York and District league under 21s v MCC (Scarborough)
Headingley Evening League Final

Sunday 30th July
Minor Counties - Northumberland v Lincolnshire (Jesmond) - 3 days
Yorkshire Gentlemen v Free Foresters (Escrick Park) - 2 days

Monday 31st July
Derby II v Yorkshire II T20x2 (Alvaston & Boulton, Derby)
Under 19 Test - England v India (Worcester) - 4 days

Monday, 26 June 2017

An uplifting few days

Posted by Tony Hutton

Yet another example of brilliant cricket photography from the Whitby Gazette.

Those of you who read my last epistle may have thought that recent developments in the cricket world were getting me down. However I am pleased to say that the last few days have brought a resurgence of enthusiasm for the game. I must admit it doesn't take much and a few days of watching cricket at Woodhouse Grove School, Adel cricket club, Driffield cricket club and particularly at Swinton Park, near Masham last Sunday have encouraged me to believe that cricket is after all alive and well.

Woodhouse Grove School entertained the MCC at Apperley Bridge last Thursday in a quiet and peaceful atmosphere and good weather, where sitting on the bank in front of the school buildings watching a team of experienced league cricketers taking on the young schoolboys demonstrated cricket as it should be played. MCC's captain Paul Hutchison declared with the total on 184-8 in mid afternoon with Foster of Harrogate CC top scoring with an excellent fifty following the dismissal of two members of famous cricketing families in Andrew Bairstow and Chris Kippax.

The young school team put up a good performance early on and a close result looked possible until the tailenders fell away as could be expected and MCC were winners by a margin of just 23 runs. An excellent contest in good surroundings and excellent conversation with Stan and Kath Dawson (former deputy head of the school) made this a day to savour.

Woodhouse Grove School

The day wasn't over as very much a local derby in the Headingley evening league between Adel and New Rover gave us some more exciting cricket again played in the best of spirits. New Rover, now with a large Asian contingent, looked a useful side and although they fell away towards the end posted a challenging target of 132-7 in their twenty overs.

Adel came out all guns blazing with young Zeeshan Siraj, as we have come to expect, blasting five fours and a six in thirty from just twelve balls before being inevitably caught on the boundary edge moments before his father arrived to watch. The other opener, another youngster, Tom Harrison, watched by his uncle, played more circumspectly and finished the game on forty five not out as Adel coasted to victory in 16 overs. As ever the sage of Adel, Reg Parker, was my companion and kept me and all the other spectators well informed and entertained.

Friday was a day off for domestic duties and Saturday brought a visit to Driffield, capital of the Yorkshire Wolds, where the home team, strengthened by the return of their prodigal son Tom Kohler-Cadmore, took on the Yorkshire Academy. The visitors youngest player James Wharton again impressed as an opening batsman with a confident innings of 30 but it was again captain Jordan Thompson who held things together with a good solid innings of 70 in a final total of 224-9. Opening bowler Matthew Taylor again impressed with some lusty hitting at the end of the innings.

When Driffield started their reply all eyes of a substantial crowd were on Tom Kohler-Cadmore who has recently joined Yorkshire from Worcestershire and in the process returned to his home club, Driffield. After an innings of 191 not out for Driffield last week and a double century for Yorkshire seconds at York, he made his intentions clear from the word go. He really went after the opening bowlers Fisher and Taylor in a big way and raced to 49 off just eighteen balls with three fours and six sixes. He hit Taylor for four successive sixes, going down the pitch and hitting him straight back down the ground into the middle of the third team game going on on the back field.

After the fourth six he played on to the delight of the bowler who sent him on his way with a rather exaggerated send off. It did seem to me that K-C was rather over the top (in more ways than one) in his attitude to the game and should perhaps have been less punishing and played a more mature innings. In the end his early dismissal cost his side the game as Logan and Thompson both took important wickets in their first spells. To my surprise they were taken off and all the other bowlers given a turn, which led to the one big stand of the innings between Sam Drury and skipper Danny Broumpton.
Driffield in action at Kings Mill Road

These two put on 89 for the sixth wicket, Drury leading the way with top score of 68 and his captain giving solid support with 28. They looked to be heading Driffield towards victory but the return of Logan who took 5-45 and skipper Thompson, who took the last two and finished with 4-30, saw the Academy to victory by 23 runs.

Finally on Sunday I was fortunate enough to come across a rare match at the lovely Swinton Park ground, situated in front of the luxury hotel near Masham and where only a handful of games are played each season. The game was between a local wandering Sunday side, The Hawks and East Prawle from South Devon who also only play friendly cricket and were in Yorkshire for a two match tour. This was a light hearted affair of thirty overs a side in the most beautiful surroundings, with batsmen all retiring without argument after notching twenty five. One of the visitors fielders was dressed as a pink flamingo, which was no doubt some penalty for an offence in the previous match.
The best bowler around, with everybody getting a turn, was a young nine year old with a real talent for bowling straight, unlike many of his team mates.

Swinton Park

All good fun with the happy band of tourists mixing with the locals and all enjoying the day to it's full extent. The bonus for us was the excellent waiter service from the hotel, bringing drinks to spectators and players alike. A marvellous end to a most enjoyable few days which shows that at many levels at least cricket is still a wonderful game.

It's A Knockout

posted by John Winn

Clubs still involved in the Village Cup and The National Club Championship were in action yesterday and although not all results are yet to hand it looks as if the weather allowed all ties to go ahead.

In the Village Cup it was Round Five and those results that have appeared on the competition play cricket website show wins for Mayfield, Rockhampton, Bledlow, Horndon, Reed, Aston Rowant, Astwood Bank, Falkland and holders Sessay. Falkland, winners of the Scotland Group entertained Staxton who made the long journey from the Scarborough area to the Kingdom of Fife, and the hosts came out on top by eight wickets with 13 overs to spare and they are now through to the last 16 and a home tie on July 9th with holders Sessay. Sessay progressed to the last 16 by beating East Ardsley by 13 runs. Full results for yesterday's game should be available in the next couple of days and I will post an update later in the week.

In the National Club Competition all results are available at Tie of the round saw holders South Northumberland beat York at Gosforth by 4 wickets with just under four overs to spare, South North will now entertain Ormskirk in the last 16 at home on July 16th.  Next round fixtures available on the website. One disappointing feature to report is that Cambridge Granta conceded their home tie with Swardeston.

A lovely morning in the Lower Ure Valley and time to do a few jobs before setting off to Headingley where it looks as though we should get a full day and night's play but the forecast for the remaining days is not good and my weather app is showing heavy rain for LS6 for both Wednesday and Thursday. Gates open for members at 11:30 and there is an EGM in the Long Room at noon. For non members gates open at 12:30. After 5:00 adults can gain admission for £10, seniors for £5 and juniors free of charge if accompanied by a paying adult.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Whatever happened to the spirit of cricket?

Posted by Tony Hutton

I know cricket is only a game but.......... Sadly there have been a lot of buts floating about the cricket world during the last week or so. The media and social media have been full of stories which in many cases defy the imagination. Somehow it has been that sort of a season with controversy always in the headlines, particularly for that intrepid band - the followers of Yorkshire cricket, not to mention those of Durham who have been so harshly treated. Cricket seems to be getting even worse than politics and I have felt a rant coming on for some time.

I suppose we might start with the ongoing saga of the City T20 proposals to start appropriately, some might say, in the year 2020. The eminent magazine The Cricketer and it's editor Simon Hughes (also known as the analyst) produced in it's June edition a so called Debate on this thorny question. It seemed to me to have been heavily loaded towards those who thought it was a good thing together with a handful who were sceptical and even less who thought it was a bad thing. A more even handed approach might have been more helpful.

What really got under the skin of many of my friends, including my fellow blogger John Winn, was the following extracts from Simon Hughes own views. First 'The BBC Sport bosses' eyes glaze over when you mention the word 'county'. I thought they glazed over at the mention of the word 'cricket'.
Then the worst of all 'Well marketed and staged T20 (minimising laddishness) in decent venues will attract women and families and rejuvenate the game. The gains will be much greater than the losses of a few thousand disgruntled county fans.'

First question how do you minimise laddishness? Don't ask the football authorities. What is a decent venue? There aren't many of those left. How do you attract women and families to come and sit in the cold after nine o'clock at night to watch a game they don't understand? Finally as one of the many thousand of disgruntled county fans (I suppose he means members) you have already lost me and I suspect far more than just a few thousand.

With all that off my chest perhaps we can turn to the antics of the ECB and presumably the England team management and selectors. Why are these people taking every action they can to devalue the county championship in everything they do? I will not dwell on the subject of Johnny Bairstow and the refusal to allow this splendid cricketer to actually play the game. The total absence of all the country's leading cricketers not only devalues the county championship but it shows a great disrespect of the traditions and history of this splendid competition. which has produced all the greatest cricketers in England's longstanding achievements in Test cricket.

The latest fiasco surrounds the selection of the England Lions team for meaningless fixtures against a very weak South Africa A side. It had been announced with great fanfares that next weeks round of championship matches would contain all the England players, to experience pink ball cricket and floodlights, even though they are unlikely to be required at this time of year, but for one game only.
They would not be seen again by their counties for proper cricket for the rest of the season. Now we have the totally insane statement that players such as Gary Ballance of Yorkshire and Keaton Jennings of Durham will be allowed to play for two days only and then will be whisked away to play for the Lions.

Who dreams up these ideas and how do the counties re-act to them? Unfortunately the hierarchy at Yorkshire CCC are in a quandary. How can they complain about the actions of the ECB when the top man, Mr Colin Graves, has bankrolled them and saved them from financial extinction and whose family trust could pull the plug on them at any time. I am assured that the county's feelings have been expressed to ECB on numerous occasions but all I can say is not forcibly enough. I have seen Bairstow, Root and Adil Rashid grow up through the Yorkshire Academy system and hoped to spend my retirement watching them perform regularly for the county side. This seems unlikely ever to happen again. What a travesty, which I am convinced is the feeling of many more followers of the county game.

None of this may seem to be anything to do with my headline question, but I think it has. The whole traditions and spirit of the game are being undermined by all these things. The ECB and their predecessors have failed to market the county championship. I have campaigned for years for a match of the day type highlights programme on television. Also nothing has been done by the powers that be to halt the demise of proper reporting of the game in the national press.

Finally on a subject which has hit the headlines on social media in Yorkshire this week has believe it or not concerned a second team cup competition in the Bradford cricket league - The Priestley Shield. Pudsey St Lawrence 2nd XI were playing Brighouse 2nd XI and racked up a record score of well
over 500 with two players making double centuries. Brighouse batted for one ball, scored one run and then declared to forfeit the game.

What did not appear in early reports was the fact that Brighouse had only nine men, all Muslims who were fasting during Ramadan on one of the hottest days of the year. Publicity has been given to a record team score and a record individual score in the league. Apparently efforts were made to ask the home side to declare to make a proper game of it but this was refused. The whole matter, together with some allegations of crowd mis-behaviour, has been referred to the league committee. We await their ruling, but to me this whole story is against the spirit of cricket completely and any so called 'records' should be deleted.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Easy pickings for The Cherrymen

posted by John Winn

I began my cricket watching last Saturday with a visit to Whixley CC, the nearest club to my house. A little over ten years ago the Score Ray Lane club lost their pavilion in an arson attack and for several seasons had to use temporary accommodation for changing and refreshments. A new pavilion was built in traditional style and opened by local MP Nigel Adams exactly three years ago today and the following year Whixley made the move from the Wetherby League to the Nidderdale.

Whoever was responsible for deciding that the first XI should be placed in Division 3 did a good job for they have bedded in nicely at that level. With the season approaching the halfway point the Cherrymen find themselves handily placed in fourth position. This Saturday they visit South Kilvington , currently second but only two points ahead of Whixley.

Last September Whixley took the bold decision to plough up and reseed their outfield and despite the arid spring and early summer conditions we have experienced in the Vale of York the field looks in fine fettle with these splendid nets the latest addition to the facilities.

Saturday's visitors were strugglers Thornton le Moor who batted first but could barely lay bat on ball against the opening attack of Dan Lever and James Smith. One or two eyebrows were raised when twenty year old Lever joined from neighbours Ouseburn this season but he has made the most of the opportunities the switch has offered. His eight overs yielded just nine runs and although he went wicket less he and Smith pegged the score to nine without loss before spin was introduced in the 12th over. When I moved on to Ouseburn after more than an hour Thornton had reached 31 for 2 but the combination of Pat Greenwood, six wickets, and Josh Forster, four wickets, saw them take tea at 54 all out off 31 overs.

Checking the website on Sunday morning I was staggered to find that Whixley had knocked the runs off in under six overs with that man Dan leading the way with 37 not out including seven fours. 15 extras helped things along to secure a nine wicket victory. Two miles away Ouseburn II were getting something of a shredding at the hands of an experienced  Hampsthwaite II team who stand second in Division Four after nine matches. Star man here was opener Bartlett who hit 160 not out and with the first wicket falling to a run out it was left to the younger of the Lever brothers, Jack, to take the only wicket to fall and as Ouseburn rather wilted in the sun Hampsthwaite finished on 280 for 2. Most of Ouseburn's batsmen got a start but they fell just a shade over 100 short to leave them in mid table.

Yesterday afternoon I popped into Clifton Park for a couple of hours and watched Derbyshire II making a good reply to Yorkshire's 302 in which Jack Leaning had top scored with 76. A very good crowd here enjoying the warm weather, although we did have a little shower just before lunch. Plenty of familiar faces some of whom will no doubt be at Headingley on Monday when Surrey provide Yorkshire with an opportunity to refloat their championship challenge. This of course is one of nine matches next week starting at two and with floodlights available for use. I know this had divided opinion and it is certainly not convenient for those who travel distances by public transport, but I am happy to support an initiative that seeks to get more people watching first class cricket and will be bringing a flask of cocoa for the supper interval. I note that Durham are offering admission for £5 after five o'clock, expect a bit of a queue at about 4:55.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

A better day

posted by John Winn

This week Glamorgan are the visitors at The Riverside for championship action for the first time since 2004.  Familiar names from that occasion when they won by 201 runs include Croft, Maynard, Wharf and Cosker for Glamorgan and Killeen, Muchall and Breeze for Durham The two captains then, Robert Croft and Jon Lewis are now the head coaches for the two counties.The only player to survive the passage of thirteen years is current Durham skipper Paul Collingwood although his appearance in 2004 was delayed until the third morning for, having been released from England duties at Lord's, he was delayed on the M1 finally arriving in time to capture three wickets including that of Croft.

The introductory paragraph has delayed the need to describe Monday's play which made viewing that would probably make live transmission of the Brexit talks seem exciting. Glamorgan opted for the toss, won it, decided to bat and when stumps were drawn after 96 overs they had 'amassed' 221 for 7, five to the perspiring Rushworth on a day of temperatures rarely experienced at The Riverside, temperatures sufficient for us to forsake our usual vantage point for a more shady area. By tea when, with some relief I set off for home, Glamorgan were 147 for 2 with Australian Selman, already a centurion against Durham this season, holding things together with dogged support from Salter and Ingram. For the more loyal Durham supporters things perked up after tea with five wickets falling but no improvement in the scoring rate.

Back again yesterday and back to our usual seats on a cooler and altogether livelier day. Wagg and Marchant De Lange, oh my Emrys Davies of long ago, were at the crease and showed a much more positive attitude than anything seen on Monday taking their eighth wicket partnership to 66 before the South African was pouched at slip, the first of three wickets for McCarthy. Coughlin was the tastiest cheese on the Welsh Rarebit, going for almost four an over with the tail enjoying too much short stuff. Credit to Sunderland born Matthew Potts, playing just his second championship match who had 2 for 59 off his 23 overs. Collingwood made his Durham debut two years before the youngster was born.

Cook and Steel, the latter opening in place of Jennings who is on Lions duty, saw us through to lunch but Cook, for whom this is his last match in Durham's colours and who by his own admission has been disappointing, fell shortly after the interval for 14. Steel and Burnham back from injury both got starts but Steel fell for a sucker punch from De Lange and Burnham went to a slip catch that rebounded to Ingram. Enter Collingwood, not delayed on the M1 or anyway else and with Clarke added 185, a record for Durham's fourth wicket against Glamorgan. Clarke reached his maiden century but went to the Cullen De Lange combination for 109 just before the close leaving Pringle to see things out with his skipper.

The forecast for the north east today indicates some heavy showers with the added prospect of thunder and lightening which may spoil the promising position Durham find themselves in just 14 in arrears with six wickets in hand. Having considered a third day travelling up the A1 I have decided instead to tick off a few jobs and then slip over to York where Yorkshire II are taking on Derbyshire. Sunny intervals on the menu here.