Thursday, 11 May 2017

From Siberia to Sahara

posted by John Winn

I have spent the last three days at opposite ends of the A59 corridor but never more than 25 minutes from my home watching second XI cricket played between Yorkshire  and Warwickshire. On Monday, York CC  hosted a Trophy match in extremely cold conditions that forced all but the very brave to watch from inside the extremely well appointed clubhouse with its comfortable seats, bar and six large screen televisions. The weather was at least dry but a biting east wind from which it was impossible to shelter without going behind glass, swept across the ground.

Yorkshire's team included Jack Brooks and was captained by Will Rhodes who chose to bat on winning the toss. A stand of 99 between Brook (sic) and Tattersall, the latter eventually dismissed for 98, got things off to a very good start and despite a little faltering in the middle 362 for 7 off the prescribed fifty overs looked formidable. The Bears' Cubs posted a century opening stand between Umeed and Banks but wickets for Wainman, Shaw, Carver and Gibson restricted them to 270 all out in 43 overs, a deficit of 92 and another win in the competition for Yorkshire.

Tuesday dawned still cold but with the wind much less severe and I turned right instead of left and made my way to St George's Road, Harrogate for the first day of a three day SEC match between the same two teams who had met at York the day before. Plenty of familiar faces here and I had time for a good chat with Tony and Jennifer before play started. The toss went Warwickshire's way and they too opted to bat. The morning and most of the afternoon was dominated by an innings from experienced opener and former skipper  Ian Westwood which caused several of us to recall other long innings we had seen thirty two year old play, not least his 196 at Headingley two seasons ago. Obstinate rather ostentatious might be inscribed on his escutcheon. He was supported by Banks but a Yorkshire attack headed by Sidebottom, Brooks and Patterson fought back in the afternoon, when towards tea we were blessed with some sun, and Warwickshire were eventually dismissed for 294 and by the close Yorkshire had reached 55 for 2.

Yesterday I returned to Harrogate and as promised by the forecasters took my seat* in lovely sunshine. I was joined by several friends from Huddersfield and during the day enjoyed conversations with some of our loyal readers including Bob Longward and his wife. The morning's play was dominated by a stand of 169 between Lees and Rhodes which at times exposed some weaknesses in Warwickshire's ground fielding. Good lower order contributions from Hodd, Wainman and Brooks enabled Yorkshire to post 368, a lead of  94 which only David Thorpe had predicted possible. One feels a little sorry for Hodd, kept out of first team action first by Bairstow then Handscombe and absent from Monday's Trophy team when young Birkhead had the gauntlets he took six catches on Tuesday and added 43 runs yesterday. The fall of the tenth wicket was my signal to leave but Yorkshire had captured five wickets before the close, three to Sidebottom, and Warwickshire's lead is only 18, a situation that suggests that today's play might not last too long. With that in mind and noting the annual appearance of Himalayan Balsam I shall forsake cricket for the garden.

*literally my seat for I had remembered to put a deckchair in the car boot. For all its excellent pavilion facilities St George's Road offers virtually nothing in the way of seating. Poor show.

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