York CC aims to thrive through Yorkshire CCC cricket festival

YORK is to market its own cricket festival in line with the famous model at Scarborough.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 5:45 am
Yorkshire's James Logan and James Paterson come out to bat at York cricket ground's Clifton Park against Warwickshire. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
Yorkshire's James Logan and James Paterson come out to bat at York cricket ground's Clifton Park against Warwickshire. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The first York Cricket Festival will take place next summer when Clifton Park hosts Yorkshire and Northern Superchargers women.

York CC club secretary Nick Kay revealed: “We’re going to promote it as the first York Cricket Festival.

“We’re going to do a souvenir programme, which will incorporate the four matches that we’ve been given, and that’s how we want to portray it going forward.

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Cricket fans watch as Yorkshire take on Warwickshire at Clifton Park in June this year. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

“The Scarborough Festival started somewhere, didn’t it, and look where they are now. A century later, it’s one of the most prestigious cricket festivals in the world.

“I’m not saying we could ever be able to compete with that, but why can’t we still be having a festival in many years’ time?

“People know of the Scarborough Festival, and if we can do this successfully for the next decade, and then the next decade after that, and so on, then suddenly it’s the York Festival in people’s minds. That’s our aim.”

The first York Cricket Festival will see Yorkshire play two games in the 50-over Royal London Cup against Northamptonshire on Tuesday August 4 and against Surrey on Thursday August 6.

The event continues with two matches for Northern Superchargers women in The Hundred against Southern Brave on Sunday, August 9 and against Birmingham Phoenix on Tuesday, August 11.

The Festival follows the successful return to the city of Yorkshire first-team cricket last summer when Clifton Park staged the County Championship fixture with Warwickshire.

It was the first time that Yorkshire had played a Championship match in their capital city for 129 years in a move made possible by the fact that their Emerald Headingley base was needed for the men’s World Cup.

Now it is The Hundred which is placing new demands on Headingley and the major grounds going forward, with the men’s Hundred being staged at those venues and the women’s version at the major venues/outgrounds combined.

A knock-on effect is more cricket for outgrounds such as York and Scarborough, with Scarborough also hosting two 50-over matches next year in addition to its usual diet of two Championship fixtures.

“A lot of the counties are embracing the outgrounds,” said Kay, “and clearly there is an appetite within Yorkshire and the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) to make these outgrounds work.

“The ECB have accommodated us really well with next year’s fixtures, while Mark Arthur (the Yorkshire chief executive) has given us the men’s games during the week so we can get as much corporate hospitality in as possible.”

A key benefit of a set York Cricket Festival, as opposed to games scattered here and there, is that key infrastructure/facilities can remain in place from game to game, thereby minimising costs.

Kay explained: “I think the ECB quite like the idea of a festival because you can get infrastructure up around the ground. It’s the only way financially that it would work for us because to put a stand up, to take a stand down and then to put it up again is just not cost effective.

“But if we can keep it all together, all the security, all the parking, the marquees and the stands, and so on, financially it enables us to make it work.

“With the games we have next year being in the school holidays as well, hopefully we’ll get a lot more juniors and children into the ground and crowds of up to 4,000-4,500.”

Next year’s games technically form the second of an initial three-year arrangement between York and the county club to have some form of Yorkshire first-team cricket at Clifton Park.

However, Kay admitted that last season’s Championship match was still a trial run.

“That three-year deal wasn’t set in stone,” he said. “It was suck-it-and-see after the first year.

“So this is recognition of the job that we did because it would have been very easy for us to have made a pig’s ear of it and for the membership to say that it didn’t really work.

“But the response from the membership, the media, everyone who came for the corporate side of things and so on was brilliant, and the Yorkshire staff were amazing too.

“We’ve set the benchmark now and we can’t drop away from it.”