York CC hoping to stage its own annual Yorkshire Cricket Festival at Clifton Park

YORK is hoping to strengthen its case to have its own equivalent of the Scarborough Festival.

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 6:45 am
Perfect view: Spectators watch a Kia Super League match between Yorkshire Diamonds and Western Storm at York CC in 2019. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com

YORK is hoping to strengthen its case to have its own equivalent of the Scarborough Festival.

York CC has a three-year deal with Yorkshire to stage county games at Clifton Park.

Although this is the last year of that deal, which sees Yorkshire take on Warwickshire today and Nottinghamshire on Friday in the Royal London Cup, it is hoped that the loss of cricket at York last year because of the pandemic will see more county games there in 2022.

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Modern look: Spectators under the scoreboard at Clifton Park, York. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com

Beyond that, York CC’s long-term goal is for an annual festival such as Scarborough, which has been going strong since 1876.

“The way we look at it is that Scarborough started somewhere and, more than 100 years later, they’re still going strong,” said Nick Kay, York CC’s honorary secretary. “If we can continue to hopefully do the right thing, make the games work for everyone, make it an enjoyable experience for all concerned, then we’d like to do it every year. I hope very much that we can have an annual York Cricket Festival. It’s maybe ambitious, but that’s the aim, and, as I say, Scarborough started somewhere.”

York started - or rather restarted - in 2019 after a gap of 129 years. Remarkably, that was how long it was since Yorkshire last played in their capital city when they took on Warwickshire in the County Championship; their previous game in York had been a Championship match against Kent in 1890 at the now defunct Wigginton Road ground.

Yorkshire’s return to York was made possible by the fact that their Emerald Headingley headquarters was needed for the 2019 World Cup. With The Hundred providing further drains on county HQs, outgrounds could benefit with county fixtures being staged concurrently.

Big hit: Western Storm's Smriti Mandhana in action at York against Yorkshire Diamonds in 2019. Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com

“We got the game in York in 2019 because the World Cup took Headingley away,” said Kay. “Obviously The Hundred is now taking headquarters away too, so, yeah, certainly from our perspective, if there’s an overflow of cricket at Headingley, then bring it to York because we can host. What we were going to do last year as well was we were going to have two Diamonds T20 games but they got shelved (due to the pandemic). So, if we can accommodate the ladies as well in that same week as Yorkshire play here, and perhaps have three or four games, or three or four days of cricket over a 10-day period, say, then we’d love to do that because the infrastructure and everything is in place.”

Once again, as Kay and his colleagues look to continue from where they left off after making an excellent impression two years ago, there will be a 2,000-seater temporary stand opposite the pavilion, plus a marquee. Spectators are once more encouraged to bring their own seats, with plenty of space around the boundary, and York CC is hoping for crowds of up to 3,000 for both games, which will be the first List A fixtures staged at the venue.

“If we got anywhere near 3,000, including the hospitality on both days, we’d be absolutely delighted,” added Kay. “We’re hopeful that we’ll get a minimum of 2,000 in the ground for both games, but if we can push towards 3,000, that would be tremendous. With the boundary sizes that we’ve got, and we’ve been asked to provide, there’s quite a lot of nice seating area around the ground by the boundary, so we’re hopeful people will bring their own seats like they did last time and make it really quite snug. It should be really great with a fabulous atmosphere, and fingers crossed that we get good weather.”

York deserves two good days - not least because it has had little time to prepare for the games. As Kay explained: “Last time we had five months to prepare whereas this time we’ve had five weeks, so it’s been a bit manic. The difficulty was knowing whether we could stage the games under (Covid) regulations and ensuring that it wasn’t going to financially cripple both Yorkshire and ourselves.

“Scarborough clearly had that issue with the Roses game, and it very much looked as though we were probably going to have the same problem. But the commitment to stage four of the roadmap that Boris brought out basically gave us the green light to go ahead and organise the games based on full capacity, and that was the key to it really. It meant we could have our marquee, we could get the stand up, and we could sell as many tickets as possible.”

Yorkshire, who have lost two, won one and had one no-result thus far, will choose from: Ballance (captain), Birkhead, Coad, Duke, Fraine, Hill, Luxton, Patterson, Pillans, Revis, Shutt, Sullivan H, Sullivan J, Tattersall, Waite.