Posted by Tony Hutton
Reaching a very advanced age this weekend had me looking for alternative venues. One possibility was the Rugby League magic weekend in Newcastle, which could have been combined with Minor Counties cricket at Jesmond. However common sense, up to a point, prevailed and I spent the two days at two of my favourite cricket grounds albeit on opposite sides of the country.
Saturday and we headed for Scarborough, always a delight but especially so for a Yorkshire League North game between the home club and the Yorkshire Academy. With very few spectators we were able to wander around the ground wherever the fancy took us and to spend time in the pavilion looking at all the many photographs and memorabilia, without the crowds of people around for county matches here. We could avoid 'other peoples' conversations syndrome' which afflicts so many visits to cricket grounds.
So there we were having our pre-lunch snifter in the comfortable bar with a perfect view of proceedings as play started in very pleasant, sunny weather at twelve noon. Yorkshire batted and although the outfield was slow after recent rain the opening pair of Ben Ainsley and Matthew Fisher managed to put on a stand of 168 for the first wicket. We had seen Fisher fall just short of a century at Harrogate last season and unfortunately he fell short again, while trying to accelerate the somewhat pedestrian scoring rate.
Ainsley from the far north east of Yorkshire had been left stranded on 99 not out during the first match of this season at Easingwold. This time it was good to see him make the century, despite a few scares in the nineties. He is not a spectacular player but has a very sound technique and it could be said he is an old fashioned opening batsman and none the worse for that. With only nine overs remaining when the opening partnership was broken, the other batsman all came in with aggresive intent and perished in the process.
Jack Holt and Ben Elvidge managed to pick up three wickets each, mainly with catches in the outfield and Yorkshire ended their 50 overs with a par score of 232-6. It should have been a lot more given the good start but probably the slow outfield robbed them of many boundaries although good running by the opening pair produced a lot of threes.
That was just about the end of the entertainment for the day as the forecast rain for three o'clock arrived almost on time. Light at first, a second heavier downpour with hailstones put paid to any thought of further play and the match was abandoned. Fortunately we were able to transfer our booking for dinner from 7.p.m. to 5.30 and were able to celebrate in style.
The following day Sunday and we headed in the opposite direction to Kendal for Cumberland v Norfolk in the Minor Counties knock out competition at the Netherfield club's pleasant ground, below the ruined castle on the hill.. This was one of the last games all being played today to settle the quarter finalists. Both teams had a chance of qualifying, but if Cumberland were to do it they needed a win and some quick scoring to improve their run rate above Norfolk's. We encountered some light rain and low cloud over Ingleborough and Whernside on the way and prospects did not look good, but play did get underway at 11.45 giving us time to renew acquaintances of many friends who follow this so special form of the game.
Norfolk batted and batted well. Sam Arthurton, who I had seen score a century at Lincoln some years ago,did it again with a fine 114 and looks a very fine player. Strangely enough the opening partnership was just one run short of yesterday's 167 from Arthurton and J.T. Taylor. The scored at a quicker rate than yesterday and the middle order were able to press on quickly with Reynolds reaching his fifty with a six off the last ball of the innings. Norfolk's innings ended on 310-6 and it was to prove an uphill task for the home team.
By this time some of my Lancashire friends had left the ground to go 'over the hill' to Kendal cricket club's ground at Shap Road for a Lancashire county cup game with the visitors from the Lancashire League the wonderfully named Church and Oswaldtwistle cricket club. It must have been quite some game with the visitors after scoring 183-7 bowling out Kendal for 182 with the last ball of the last over of the game to win by one run.
Meanwhile back at Netherfield Cumberland were in early trouble loosing both openers cheaply and needing a big innings from skipper Gary Pratt were slipping more and more behind the required rate of six per over. Pratt was stumped by Groves when giving Watson the charge to speed things up, and really after that, despite good efforts by all the tailenders it was a run chase too far and Norfolk won by 47 runs after bowling the home side all out for 263. The wind dropped after tea and it became a beautiful sunny evening which enhanced our wonderful drive home through the Yorkshire Dales, after yet another top class meal to set us on our way. A truly magic weekend after all.