Posted by Tony Hutton
After travelling back from High Wycombe on Friday, fortunately beating the afternoon rush hour traffic, we were back in situ at Harrogate cricket club by noon on Saturday ready for another full weekend of cricket at St George's Road. Saturday's game was between Harrogate and the Yorkshire Academy, some of whose players were as jet lagged as we were. Barnes and Warner had been sent to High Wycombe to take part on Friday in place of Rhodes and Gibson who had been whisked away to Worcester to join the first team squad for a Royal London 50 over game. The second eleven game had not finished until about six p.m. and the squad returned by coach arriving back at Headingley about eleven p.m. Such is the life of a professional cricketer.
The Academy side batted first with two schoolboy openers Harry Brook, still scoring hundreds with regularity at Sedbergh School and even younger James Wharton, from Holmfirth Grammar School and Scholes cricket club, making his first appearance for the Academy. They started well, but Brook who had scored 170 at Woodhouse Grange last week, was out to a careless shot for 20. At which point his grandma was seen to immediately leave the ground to follow the fortunes of their local club, Burley in Wharfedale.
Wharton batted for just over an hour. He only scored 19 but played a straight bat with confidence and maturity which augurs well for the future. When the score reached 86-4 the visitors looked in some trouble against the league champions. Enter another of the younger brigade in Nathan Snookes who took to the attack and played the most positively in a partnership of 70 with Yassar Imitiaz, who made a very useful 43.
Harrogate were themselves struggling somewhat at his point and had to introduce their new Australian batsman Kellen Bond into the attack.
Not only did he dismiss Imtiaz lbw with his first delivery, but his harmless looking leg spinners took three further wickets to general surprise, particularly from his team mates. Snookes by now was fighting a lone hand with very little support, but like Wharton he played with great confidence and hit some superb shots, particularly one big six as well as eleven fours. He became another of Bond's victims and was ninth man out for 72 withe the total 196-9.
Big opening bowler Matthew Taylor had a good slog at the end of the innings and took the Academy to a most respectable 220-9, hitting five fours and one six in his 31 not out. Bond's figures were 4-17 from seven overs and he may get more bowling opportunities in the future. The admirable Geeson-Brown's figures were 8-3-15-2.
Harrogate's top order batsmen again faltered against the Academy's pace attack of Taylor, Barnes and Warner, who had the best figures with 3-11, but newcomer Eddie Wilson again steadied the ship in the middle order with 29. When he was out Harrogate were facing defeat at 135-8 and once again as happened several times last season their opening bowlers became the batting heroes putting on an unbroken partnership of 86 for the ninth wicket to win the game with almost four overs to spare. Full marks to Tom Geeson-Brown 51 not out and Harry Stow 30 not out. The Academy must have wondered where they went wrong snatching defeat from the jaws of victory!
The next day Sunday 7th May, Harrogate had yet another home match this time a National Club knockout game with Elsecar from South Yorkshire, who have been one of the most consistent sides in that area for some years. Leeds/Bradford University opener Jack Potticary played the role of pinch hitter to perfection for Harrogate from the word go, scoring 72 off only 38 balls with eleven fours and three sixes. He was the first man out having scored his runs out of a partnership of 88 with skipper George Ross.
Potticary was out caught on the mid wicket boundary off Jack Shutt, the Academy off spinner who played here yesterday. He contributed a very useful spell of 2-25 from his nine overs for his home club. Ross then got his head down and stayed in for two and a half hours for a real captain's innings of 79. Little support however until yesterday's hero Harry Stow chipped in with 22 at the end. Harrogate all out for 241 in the last over (45 overs a side in this competition).
Elsecar's bowlers, and fielders, had come back very well after the early fireworks from Potticary when a score of 300 or more looked on the cards. Harrogate were handicapped by the absence of four regular first teamers, but Elsecar ably lead by skipper Meadows, who had the best bowling figures (5-54) and made top score of 75, eased to a comfortable six wicket victory with two and a half overs left. There was a cameo appearance from Ian Swallow, the former Yorkshire off spinner, now 52 years old and still going strong. He has been connected with the Elsecar club for many years and will have been very proud of them today.