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.
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.
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.