1Yorkshire County Cricket ClubYorkshire CC Venues — Or Lack Of!

When I were ‘nowt but a lad’ as they say round me I used to sneak out of the house to watch my beloved York­shire at nearby Abbey­dale whenev­er they came to town.

Know­ing the ground well I used to hide in a clear­ing in the hedge and would then base myself there for the rest of the morn­ing and after­noon.

Home tal­ents includ­ing Dav­id Byas, Richard Stemp, Richard Blakey and a young Michael Vaughan (who is a little older than me– I’m not that old!) would wow the crowds with their play.

I was com­pletely in awe of such stars and wanted to copy them. I wanted to be the one who would stride out into the middle for club and coun­try. They were my inspir­a­tion.

And I was far from being the only ‘whip­per-snap­per’ there watch­ing the ball sail over the bound­ary rope after a well-timed thwack from Vaugh­ney or the tumble of wick­ets as the seam­ers ripped through the bat­ting line-up.

It’s a scene I can pic­ture being repeated up and down the coun­try. But alas, in York­shire at least, it is no more.

Now, if you want to watch York­shire at home it’s a costly trip into Leeds (a city I have very little time for) to Headingley.

Don’t get me wrong – I have noth­ing against the ground — and have spent many a happy after­noon in the sun there nurs­ing a beer or two and cheer­ing on Eng­land and York­shire.

But why oh why must ALL home games be played there (oth­er than a couple of quick for­ays every sum­mer to Scar­bor­ough (even fur­ther away).

For those of you who don’t hail from God’s Own Coun­try let me edu­cate you a little: York­shire is Britain’s biggest county with a pop­u­la­tion lar­ger than that of Ire­land and all but 14 of the US states and is essen­tially com­prised of four dif­fer­ent areas. North York­shire, West York­shire, South York­shire and them there off t’ east which is sort of York­shire, sort of isn’t.

Each area, whilst united under the com­mon York­shire ban­ner is a bit dif­fer­ent in its own way with its own cus­toms and its own way of doing things. North York­shire is wealthy and rur­al, West York­shire is dom­in­ated by Leeds which sees itself as the Lon­don of the north and South York­shire is a bit in-between with strong ex-min­ing roots thrown in for good meas­ure. We don’t really speak about the east.

York­shire CCC brings all of this togeth­er under one beau­ti­ful and his­tor­ic label. And the club is and always has been made up of play­ers from all the dif­fer­ent walks of York­shire life. For example in terms of former stars, Geof­frey Boy­cott hails from the west of the county, Fred True­man comes from Maltby in South York­shire, Her­bert Sutcliffe from Har­rog­ate (North York­shire) and Dav­id Byas Kil­ham in the east.

Long may this diversity con­tin­ue.

So why does the club choose to only play at one ground (OK, one and a half if we include Scar­bor­ough)?

Sur­rey play at four dif­fer­ent grounds and Glam­or­gan, Lan­cashire, Middle­sex and Sus­sex at three. If we take the one example of Glam­or­gan the approx­im­ate pop­u­la­tion of wouldbe crick­eters is 3million, com­pared with 5.3 mil­lion in York­shire.

I am sure the club would argue, with some jus­ti­fic­a­tion, that money has a big part to play, as do the facil­it­ies avail­able to the mod­ern crick­eter that can be found at Headingley. In fact our very own Geoff Boy­cott made this very point at the York­shire Ses­que­centen­ni­al Soireé at the Cru­cible Theatre, Shef­field back in Janu­ary.

And I accept those argu­ments – the influ­ence of money in the mod­ern game must be acknow­ledged and is here to stay.

But oth­er counties man­age with grounds that are not up to test level.

And in York­shire there are grounds that, with a little bit of invest­ment, could be suit­able. If they were before then why not now with a little bit of tinker­ing around the edges (I con­cede that I haven’t been to Abbey­dale for a few years so don’t know how it’s shap­ing up but the point is gen­er­al rather than spe­cif­ic).

There’s a well trod­den busi­ness say­ing: you have to spec­u­late to accu­mu­late. So if some of these grounds inves­ted a bit of brass (money in York­shire speak), with help from the County, then games could be drip fed out bit by bit.

As more games were played at addi­tion­al grounds so in turn the grounds would have addi­tion­al funds to invest. And new audi­ences would start to fol­low our beloved game, so bring in more money… do you see where I am going with this! The ideal solu­tion would be for a new ground to start off with a T20 match – a crowd puller and pleas­er – to get the ini­tial shot in the arm fin­an­cially needed for work on facil­it­ies.

If T20 isn’t there to make money and to bring new faces through the turn­stiles then why is it in exist­ence?

Then, once grounds have re-estab­lished them­selves as county ven­ues, they can be trus­ted with county cham­pi­on­ship matches. I am not talk­ing about get­ting rid of Headingley – far from it – but would like to see a situ­ation say in 5 years, where out of 8 Home county matches, half are played there with the remainder shared out between four addi­tion­al ven­ues.

Below is a map with the loc­a­tions of all test, main first class and occa­sion­al first class grounds in the UK

 

http://goo.gl/maps/NOAlD

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gravatarBrian smith

Totally agree with your sen­ti­ments, I only go to Scar­bor­ough, & have nev­er seen York’s play cham­pi­on­ship matches any­where else. The attendance’s they get for cham­pi­on­ship games at Headingley are dis­mal. In an ideal world York’s would share 8 home matches around the county & leave Headingley for Eng­land games. I believe Brad­ford is being redeveloped & might stage some county cham­pi­on­ship fix­tures in 2019 . I have also been to Liv­er­pool (Aigburth) , Col­wyn Bay & South­port + Chel­ten­ham to watch county crick­et , to sit in these grounds & watch crick­et was an abso­lute pleas­ure. I have also atten­ded Eng­land matches home & over­seas, but noth­ing can beat cham­pi­on­ship crick­et played on an out ground, with like minded crick­et lov­ers. Yours , Mr Bri­an Smith ‚For­far, Angus ‚Scot­land.

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