Sunday, 13 August 2017

Wakefield win Game of Thornes

posted by John Winn

With six Yorkshire Premier North clubs within half an hour's drive of my home it has been rather easy to ignore its southern counterpart but on Saturday I made the journey to Field Lane, Wakefield, where last year's champions, Wakefield Thornes, were taking on their nearest challengers, Sheffield Collegiate. An easy 45 minute drive saw me on the pavilion veranda, cup of tea in hand, as the teams took the field for a noon start. The day was a mixture of blustery wind, some blue sky but with enough cloud to suggest the possibility of rain later. A slow start by the Thornes' batsmen on a greenish wicket, 'doing a bit but slow' was the description afforded by one of the Collegiate opening bowlers, soon saw opener Wolfenden caught by Billy Root for 1 and Shutt and Eldred continued to keep it tight for almost all the hour I stayed. Warner and Toft took it to 26 before Eldred stuck again. As soon as I had left however things improved for the homesters and what proved to be the match winning knock came from Jordan who hit 88 and had a stand of 97 with Cook. Some later order hitting came from Irfan and the innings closed on 236 for 7.

Total Cricket Scorer shows Collegiate made a poor start, 22 for 4 and although Guy and Lee made useful scores the visitors finished 94 short, a result that gives last year's winners a lead of 20 points with four matches to play and a likely spot in the Yorkshire cup semi finals. From Field Lane I headed south east along the A 638 towards Ackworth and a first division match in the Pontefract League. The ground here is quite easy to find as long as you know it is behind the Boot and Shoe, which I didn't, but on arrival visitors Fairburn were batting in front of a decent sized crowd. 34 for 2 quickly became 44 for 6, each wicket accompanied by exaggerated celebrations but a stand of 116 for the seventh wicket between Guy Abdy and Dan Fitzpatrick muted the histrionics and Fairbairn reached 193 for7.  Sixty from Scott Walker, probably not that one, saw the hundred up with only two down, but 108 for 2 became 109 for 6 with Kevin Watson the troublemaker, and the hosts closed 26 short. The win leaves Fairburn second to Streethouse and Ackworth fourth.

Next stop Featherstone Town CC, still Pontefract League but Div 2 this time. The Halfpenny Lane ground is on the outskirts of the town with open fields beyond and access is via Post Office Road, passing Featherstone Rovers' ground after which the road becomes a track leading to Rovers' training centre, 'the production line begins here' and just when you think this can't be right, there it is. Rothwell batting and 134 for 8 didn't look too good but a wagging tail got it up to 186 for 9 and after a poor start this was always likely to be too many for Featherstone who succumbed to 103 all out. This eases Rothwell away from the relegation places and Featherstone becalmed in mid table.

One more call on a afternoon shortened by the need to get home in time to smarten up for an evening wedding party, and another short trip, a few miles to Banks Garth, home of Knottingley CC and second division fare again. Visitors Allerton Bywater are way off the pace at the bottom of the league but had managed to reach 129 all out by tea which was being served when I arrived. Knottingley lost a couple of early wickets while I watched but the innings followed  the pattern I had seen in the other three matches, or rather not seen, for my departure in each case seemed to inspire the batting side. The home team, with good contributions by Andrew Lund and Alex Frew, had three wickets in hand when the target was reached.

Driving home I passed through a shower and dipping into the East Riding for our evening engagement we saw evidence of heavy rain, heavy enough to have caused the abandonment of the game between Driffield and Stamford Bridge, a disappointment that damages Bridges' hopes of the Yorkshire Premier North title for while they cursed their luck there were wins for rivals York and The Academy. Tough game for the East Riding outfit next week when inform Sheriff Hutton Bridge cross the River Derwent.

Friday, 11 August 2017

A glimmer of good news.

Posted by Tony Hutton

After a deluge of heavy rain on Tuesday 8th August, when no cricket was possible anywhere in Yorkshire the county's Under 17 side were able to get off to a prompt start on Wednesday in what had become effectively a two day game instead of the scheduled three days against Cheshire Under 17s at the University ground at Weetwood in Leeds. It turned out to be a fascinating contest with twists and turns a plenty and the good crowd supporting both sides in need of a degree in higher mathematics to keep abreast of developments.

In the qualifying round of matches, of which this was the last, Cheshire were just four points behind Yorkshire. If Cheshire could get five more points from this game than Yorkshire they would go through to next week's northern semi final. If Yorkshire got enough points to maintain their lead they would go through. With the loss of a full day it seemed most unlikely that either side could bowl the other out twice to obtain points for a complete win, so it became a matter of batting and bowling bonus points.
Try and keep up if you can!

A cold, blustery wind greeted the players on Wednesday morning, in other words a typical Weetwood day. However full marks to groundsman Richard Robinson and his team in getting the ground ready for play after the deluge of yesterday. Cheshire won the toss and batted and goodness me how they batted. O'Brien dominated the early stages with 48 from a stand of 74 with opening partner George Balderson before he was sent back after calling for a run and was out by yards.

Balderson, from the Hyde club, made up for things by batting through the innings for a magnificent 118 not out, which included eighteen fours. He lost number three Dobson, bowled by Alec Drury for 12, but then shared an unbroken partnership of 207 with Sam Perry, from Alderley Edge, who also completed his century before Cheshire declared on 301-2.  The visitors claiming four batting bonus points whereas Yorkshire did not get a single bowling point. So both teams were now level on points and all still to play for.

A good crowd by Weetwood standards.

Yorkshire made a slow and steady start during the evening session of day one and were 87-1 overnight. The batsman out was James Wharton but Matthew Revis and George Hill batted through to the close of play. On the last day, in perfect sunny conditions, this was where the mathematics came into play. If Yorkshire got to 150 and only lost one further wicket in the process they would be one point ahead. This was exactly what happened but as soon as they had done so Cheshire took the third wicket and it was back to all square again.

George Hill was out for a hard earned 48 when he was stumped as soon as leg spinner Dickinson appeared into the attack. He looked a very useful bowler and also dismissed the obdurate Revis who had played a marathon Boycott-like innings of 67 from 67 overs! One of the youngest members of the side he showed great powers of concentration until caught at slip. So 151-3 and everything still in the balance.

Backs to the wall as Yorkshire defend on the last day.

By this time Alec Drury, whose bowling was very untidy on the previous day, had established himself at the crease and went on to make a very mature 56 not out in two hours. When captain Snookes was dismissed for 12 the total was 205-4 and Yorkshire promptly declared, having nosed in front again with another batting point. If they had lost another wicket Cheshire would have been back level again.

The ball was back in the visitors court. If the game now ended in a draw each team would get five further points and Yorkshire would qualify by one bonus point. Cheshire had to gamble and try and go for an outright win by bowling Yorkshire out cheaply. Gamble they did coming out with all guns blazing in their second innings which only lasted for eight overs. The hit out at everything, losing wickets in the process, and declared on 69-6 leaving Yorkshire requiring 166 to win at around four runs per over.

Of course Yorkshire did not need to win and when they faded to 108-6 it very much looked as if they might lose. Cheshire relied on their varied spin attack and rushed through their overs. At 5 p.m. the umpires started the last hour with seventeen overs still to be bowled. They managed to bowl 20 overs in that time and only at the very end did they slow things down and bring back the pacemen as Yorkshire at the end were only fifteen runs short of victory.

The two players who batted through this difficult final period were Chris Wood, another youngster and current under 15s captain, who made an impressive 30 not out and wicket keeper Litvin, who has first team experience with Harrogate, making 15 not out. So the game ended in a draw with handshakes all round. A tremendous performance by Cheshire who looked the better side throughout and played with a very positive attitude, only to lose out on a semi-final place by the narrowest of margins.

The semi-final is likely to be played at Weetwood next week, Tuesday15th August for three days and Yorkshire's opponents are likely to be Northamptonshire who won the Midlands area group.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Yorkshire humiliated in two competitions

Posted by Tony Hutton

A bad week for Yorkshire cricket. Not only were the first team well beaten by championship leaders Essex in just two days at Scarborough, but the second XI travelled all the way down to Arundel in Sussex for T20 finals day only to be beaten in the first semi final by Hampshire in no time at all.
The only small ray of sunshine on the horizon was provided by the under 17s who scraped through to the semi final of their county championship by the skin of the their teeth (or to be more precise by just one bonus point).

Hopes were high as the players took to the field.

An excellent crowd was in attendance early at North Marine Road on Sunday 6th August, despite many league cup finals taking place all around the county. Little could they have anticipated the events about to unfold before lunch on day one of a scheduled four day match. With the exception of opener Adam Lyth, all the leading batsmen were out for single figure scores, only Rashid with twelve got a double figure score and unbelievably Yorkshire were at 79-9 well before lunch. The interval was delayed as the last pair were together and further confusion when the extra half hour ended, until it was realised that eight overs had to be bowled before lunch could be taken. Sidebottom had given Lyth good support and the last wicket had put on 39 before Lyth's brave effort ended when he was caught at slip for 68. An all out score of 113 was hardly credible.

The scoreboard reads 25-5.

Villain of the piece as far as Yorkshire were concerned was Pakistan left arm paceman Mohammad Aamer, the man famously banned for the no ball incident at Lord's some years ago. His figures were 11.2-4-18-5 with bowling of real pace and accuracy, well supported by Porter and Bopara.

The Scarborough crowd are bemused by events before lunch.

When Essex batted, with Cook and Westley on England duty as of course were Root and Bairstow,
they gave the Yorkshire faithful some hope when stuggling early on to 48-3. However Bopara, Wheater and skipper Ten Doeschate got them out of trouble. The captain played the innings of the day, if not of the match, with a splendid 88 in almost three hours, with twelve fours. Aamer also scored vital runs (22 in fact) towards the end of the innings to produce an all out total of 231.

The crowd find it hard to believe what they are seeing.

The scoreboard reads 50-6 in the second innings.

On day two even worse was to follow and Yorkshire gave another abject display with again six of the top eight batsmen failing to make double figures. Lees and Bresnan both got a pair (ducks in each innings). This time Leaning played the stand out innings of 70 in around three hours and got most support from number 10 Ben Coad who hit out at the end with a quick 28, which included six fours.
So this time Yorkshire all out 150 and Essex only required 33 to win, which they got for the loss of two wickets. Essex won by eight wickets well inside two days. A huge disappointment both for the Scarborough club financially and for the large band of travelling supporters from all over the county and from further afield, many of whom had booked hotels for the four days of the game.

Joy unconstrained for the travelling Essex fans who will have high hopes of their team winning the county championship when proper cricket resumes again in September.

Another humiliation was to follow later in the week, when the second eleven travelled all the way to Arundel in Sussex to play in the second eleven T20 finals day on Thursday. They faced Hampshire in the first morning semi-final only to be bowled out for exactly 100 runs in 18.2 overs. Hampshire needless to say knocked them off for the loss of only one wicket in just 11.4 overs. One can only hope that their coach driver had not parked up for the day before having to set off on the long journey home. Read the next instalment for some slightly happier news.

Past winners to meet at Lord's

posted by John Winn

Following last Sunday's semi finals holders Sessay will take on 2012 winners Reed in the final of the village cup at Lord's on September 17th. Despite my prediction in a recent  posting that Sessay would find semi final opponents Astwood Bank a stern test they appear to have come through without too much trouble. Batting first Sessay hit up 221 for 8 off their 45 overs with Astwood falling well short on 141 all out. In the other last four tie Reed reached 179 for 7 and then bowled out Aston Rowant for 105.

Confession time, for in a recent posting I described the meeting between York and Ormskirk played last Sunday as a quarter final whereas in fact it was a last 16 tie. Ormskirk were comfortable winners and will now face Hanging Heaton at home this Sunday, 1:00 start. Winners to play Wolverhampton. The other semi final will be played on Sunday August 27th at East Grinstead with Wanstead and Snaresbrook the opposition. Apologies for this mistake.

After today the championship retires to the cheap seats until Monday August  28th when there will be 8 matches. Essex, who after their crushing two day win over Yorkshire at Scarborough can be forgiven for wondering where they might display the championship pennant this winter will face bottom club Somerset and second from top, Lancashire, face second from bottom Warwickshire who in beating Middlesex at Lord's sent a ripple up the table as far as fourth placed Yorkshire.

What of Yorkshire? Yesterday I bumped into Frank Siddle, the sage of Allens West, in Northallerton, both disappointed that we were footloose on a fine day when we might have been at North Marine Road. Frank had been doing his homework looking back over Yorkshire's two innings which showed after  removing Lyth and Leaning, the top six order had  contributed 30 in eight innings with enough ducks to stock Peasholm Park lake. Put Rashid and Hodd in the mix and a further 23 runs from four innings is the result. Enough said, well not quite for Yorkshire are next in championship action on September 5th at Headingley, when their opponents will be Middlesex by which time both could be in a more precarious position.

In the second division Notts march on, their game with Derbyshire somehow managing to escape death by drowning, and they will be at Trent Bridge in the next round when Northants come to town. The second promotion spot is very much up for grabs here with Northants, Sussex and Kent separated by just two points and
all with a game in hand on Worcestershire who came unstuck at
home to Sussex this week. Northants v Sussex while Worcestershire are at Notts in early September could be crucial.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Four new grounds in South West Durham

posted by John Winn

Family business took me to Darlington on Saturday and on a sunny afternoon I took the opportunity to visit four grounds in the south west of the county where I had not previously seen cricket.

First up was a match at Shildon CC for an NYSD Second Division match with Stokesley II the visitors. Shildon or Shildon Railway to give them their full title joined the NYSD in 2015 and gained promotion in their first season but after the loss of key players from last season life is proving tough and they find themselves propping up the other 11 teams in the division. Shildon chose to bat against the nine of Stokesley which grew to ten about twenty minutes after play began. Shildon failed to cash in with a slow outfield and a large playing area restricting scoring and they soon found themselves 8 for 3, 19 for 3 when I left after 10 overs. Their final score was 56 all out and despite the loss of early wickets a stand between two Davids, Atkinson and Wilson, saw the Yorkshire men  home by six wickets.

From Shildon it is a fairly short journey to Evenwood, but change of ground meant change of league, this time to the Durham Cricket League, part of the big reshuffle of cricket in the county that took place in 2013. The Evenwood club was established in 1966 and their opponents on Saturday were East Durham outfit, Peterlee. Second teams in action at the Randolph Social Welfare Ground. The visitors were in the field and bemoaning their luck as three catches, none easy but all in the 'might have stuck category', went down as Peterlee progressed to 32 off 12 when I left. Sadly the result is missing from the league website. *

Another short journey for my third new ground and a match between Lands CC and Barton, second v third in the Darlington and District League Division A. Lands lies between Low Lands and High Lands and with pleasing logic you climb a hill from one to the other and there is the ground with splendid views on all sides. Lands were founded in 1898 and played in the Mid Durham Senior League until its demise in 1983 when they transferred to the D and D. Barton, from near Scotch Corner were batting and while I watched 17 for 2 became 32 for 6. 60 all out was the best Barton could do and this was easy meat for Lands who won
by 9 wickets. That keeps them in second place but well short of leaders Raby Castle, Barton slip to fourth.

For my last ground of the day I headed for Newton Aycliffe and another NYSD Div 2 encounter with Maltby the visitors. Newton Aycliffe was easy to find, the ground was not but I made it in time for tea. My attempts to gate crash a private party rebuffed I settled for a cup of tea and a seat in the sunshine. This was crowd of the day, most being fortified by something stronger than tea, and on the adjacent football pitch the locals were hoping to make the first steps on the road to Wembley with mighty
Chester le Street in town. The Cestrians went home disappointed, 1/0 to the hosts.

Back to cricket and chasing 165 Newton Aycliffe's openers walked out to music which overflowed from the private party. Mercifully, for it clearly owed something to Sid Vicious, it was soon strangled. There followed a fairly pointless exercise when Aycliffe batted through their fifty overs for 94 runs and the loss of seven wickets, five points for the home team, 13 for the visitors which keeps them top of the table, two points clear of Wolviston. Newton Aycliffe lie 8th, not entirely clear of relegation. Fortunately I missed the most of this turgid display as I drove back down the A1 and considered what I needed to take to Scarborough for the next couple of days.

Newton Aycliffe CC

*The result appeared later in the week and showed Evenwood had made 164 for 9 to which Peterlee replied with 55 all out.

Friday, 4 August 2017

England Under 19s at Worcester

Posted by Tony Hutton

After a somewhat hazardous journey on the motorway system around Birmingham on Sunday night, we were relieved to find that as requested our room in the Premier Inn next door to the Worcester County ground had a marvellous view not only of the ground but the Malvern Hills in the distance. We were therefore well positioned for the start of this four day match on Monday morning 31st July.

A room with a view. The ladies' pavilion with Kings School ground and pavilion behind and the Malvern Hills in the distance.

The groundstaff were up bright and early and preparations were underway around 7 a.m. on Monday morning. Everything seemed to be done with military precision, the removal of the plastic sheeting and the covers, the switching of a wicket cover from one strip to another and the general tidying up all round the ground after a T20 game the previous afternoon. We had a grandstand view of all this going on.
Men at work very early in the morning.

India, fresh from their convincing victory over England in the first test at Chesterfield last week, won the toss and decided to bat in fine sunny conditions. There was to be no repeat of their mammoth score in the first game as both Warwickshire pacemen Panayi and Brookes claimed early wickets and India were 68-2. The advent of fourth seamer Ravi Patel from Surrey soon turned the match very much England's way.

The England team take the field

First of all he had opener Shaw caught behind for a useful 51 from 63 balls and soon afterwards had Das well caught by Yorkshire's Harry Brook at slip which made it 98-4. Then on the stroke of lunch he clean bowled Kaira with a precision yorker. The first ball after the interval and Patel struck again bowling Nagarkoti for nought. Mavi survived not only the hat trick ball but stuck around for the rest of the innings to top score with 86 not out.

The never changing view of Worcester Cathedral.
Kaira leaves the field clean bowled by the last ball before lunch.

Strangely for a four day match England played only one spinner and Virdi, another Surrey player, bowled 22 overs, but took only 1-67. Even stranger after his four quick wickets Patel never bowled again in the innings and his figures were 6-1-21-4. All the Indian tailenders showed that they can bat and stuck around with Mavi to reach a substantial first innings score of 292 which seemed most unlikely when they were 106-7. One highlight for us was afternoon tea and cake in the Ladies' Pavilion which seems never to have changed, with an old fashioned atmosphere and lots of interesting memorabilia on the walls, together with all sorts of items on show in the pavilion.

The scoreboard managed to cope with c Brook b Brookes.

Room with a view again - with the last Indian pair together.

England's first innings got underway just  before the close of day one, but sadly Harry Brook ran himself out for only two and it ended very much India's day. On Tuesday morning the England captain Max Holden, from Middlesex, looked capable of a big score, but after Patel had gone for 24 Holden was the third man out for 71. He was soon followed back to the pavilion by Warwickshire's Banks and England were 141-4. Bartlett from Somerset dug in and scored 50 in two and a half hours, but the real innings of the day came from Will Jacks, a third Surrey player.

The evening sun lights up the Cathedral.

As the tail collapsed around him Jacks hit out, after reaching 50 from 81 balls. His second fifty came from only nineteen balls and when he was last man out for 102 his innings had contained nine fours and six sixes. So despite the last four men not scoring a run between them England finished only eight runs short of the Indian total.

England about to start their innings.

Rain showers plagued the match throughout but were usually of a brief duration. Full marks again to the groundstaff who did everything so efficiently and quickly so that play was always able to restart very soon. We did not see the last two days but India obviously went about their business in a very positive way on day three scoring at four an over throughout their innings. Number three Gill was top scorer with 102, which included 15 fours, with good support from Shaw and Das. Virdi, the off spinner was the best bowler with 4-82, but surely England missed a second spinner.

The Graeme Hick pavilion on the left and the unchanged New Road end of the ground.

India continued to bat on the last morning totalling 330 all out. You felt they should have declared earlier to have time to bowl England out. However when England reached 164-2 it looked as though a draw was very much on the cards, but when top scorer Bartlett was out for 73 the innings again collapsed during the late afternoon. In fact they went from 220-5 to 241 all out and lost by 97 runs.

All the bowlers contributed well but Mavi, the hero of the first innings with the bat, finished things off with the last two wickets and had the best figures of 3-40. Full marks to the very enthusiastic Indian team for a 2-0 series win and hopefully the England side can bounce back in the forthcoming one day series.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

New ground in Staffordshire

Posted by Tony Hutton

The Checkley pavilion.

Sunday 30th July and off to Checkley in Staffordshire, not far from Uttoxeter, where the home side were playing a Minor Counties championship match for the first time against visitors Hertfordshire.

The Hertfordshire flag flies high.
As does the Staffordshire knot.

We were just in time to squeeze into the car park in an adjoining field, as a good crowd had gathered well in advance of the start. A very tidy ground, with a modern pavilion and the weather stayed fine, despite a bit of a breeze from which we could shelter under the hedge at one end. Quite a few 'ground hoppers' in attendance including the inevitable 'Blackpool Ken' complete with Queen of the South plastic bag. This brought attention from another Scottish football follower who seemed to have been everywhere.
The players take to the field.

However, back to the cricket and Staffordshire won the toss and batted against strong looking Hertfordshire, whose opening bat Steve Gale had been in particularly good form this season.
The home side introduced a new opening batsman Ryan Hassett from the Porthill Park club and he proceeded to produce the performance of the day with a debut century against a varied attack, with three spinners bowling the bulk of the overs.

The rural surroundings at Checkley.

A poignant sculpture in a quiet corner of the ground to a great club man. (Click on the picture to enlarge and read the interesting inscription).

The Staffordshire club had produced an excellent scorecard and match programme with endless information and statistics concerning the club. Captain Kadeer Ali, who has been around the county circuit and is the brother of Moeen, who was to achieve a match winning hat trick for England the following day, was the first man out. He was caught behind for 16 and Hassett was joined by Brierley who helped take the score to 86 before he was unfortunately run out for 29.

Jamie Southgate in the middle of a long bowling spell for Hertfordshire.

Wilshaw and Maxfield, two of Staffordshire's most prolific scorers in recent years, were out cheaply and despite a good run rate wickets seemed to be falling at regular intervals despite the confident Hassett taking charge. Things did not look so good when Hassett was given out lbw to off spinner Southgate immediately after going to his century and the score became 199-6. However tailenders Richardson and Coates made valuable contributions at the end to take the all out total to 280 just after a rain break and the tea interval. Left arm spinner Ben Waring, who has played for Essex seconds, took 2-70 but the best figures went to former MCC Young Cricketer Jamie Southgate who had 34.5-10-87-5 after demolishing the tail.

Century maker Ryan Hassett takes the applause.

Between the rain showers Herfordshire started their innings after tea with opener Steve Gale soon looking in good form. He continued this after our departure on the second day with his fifth century of the season in Minor Counties cricket making 127 out of an all out total of 328. So a first innings lead of 48 for the visitors. The home side got off to a cracking start at four per over and the openers Kadeer Ali and Hassett put on 121 in quick time. Hassett was out for 40 but Ali continued in fine form to make 102 and with the tail making quick runs Staffordshire declared on 334-9 leaving the visitors to make 286 to win on the last day.

Spectators enjoy the view from the banking at the far end.

Sadly for them they lost both openers cheaply and Staffordshire never looked back with some fine bowling from spinner Byrne who took 5-35 leading them to a convincing victory with just fifteen minutes remaining and just before the rain poured down. Hertfordshire were very disappointing after their first innings efforts and were all out for 129. Staffordshire won by 157 runs.