Frustration all round as Yorkshire’s Headingley opener is abandoned without a ball being bowled

RAIN STOPPED MATCH: Andy Foggarty on the 'Blotter' taking up water from the Headingley outfield prior to the first match of the County Championship. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
RAIN STOPPED MATCH: Andy Foggarty on the 'Blotter' taking up water from the Headingley outfield prior to the first match of the County Championship. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com
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FORMER YORKSHIRE captain Anthony McGrath expressed his frustration after his return to Headingley with Essex was decimated by the rain.

No play was possible over the four days between Yorkshire and the reigning County Championship champions after it was called off at 10am on Monday morning following two inspections.

Umpires Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth reported no significant improvement to the outfield during their second inspection on day four, leaving both sides with five points for the draw.

The damage was done to the outfield prior to this game, with minimal rain fall during the four days. Unfortunately for both sides, the recent wet weather in Leeds meant the groundstaff were unable to get any drying machinery on the problem area for fear of bringing up more water and making it worse.

For McGrath, who was promoted to become head coach at Essex in the close season following the departure of Chris Silverwoood to take up a position as England’s new bowling coach, it proved a frustrating few days back at his old stomping ground.

“I’m no expert, but they’re saying there’s nothing they can do to improve the state of the outfield,” said McGrath. “We have to go on what they say.

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath. Picture: Essex CCC/Gavin Ellis

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath. Picture: Essex CCC/Gavin Ellis

“But, from mine and my players’ point of view, we’d have at least liked to see some work going on out there. It was almost conceding that we weren’t going to play without doing anything.

“It’s the start of the season and everyone is frustrated. Given we’ve had an hour’s rain in four days and we’ve not had a ball bowled, it’s very disappointing.

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“The most frustrating thing is not only for players, but the supporters who’ve travelled up from Chelmsford and have had to book hotels and everything that goes with it.”

From mine and my players’ point of view, we’d have at least liked to see some work going on out there. It was almost conceding that we weren’t going to play without doing anything.

Essex head coach, Anthony McGrath

Essex return to Chelmsford to face last season’s runners-up Lancashire on Friday, with Yorkshire confident, however, that Friday’s clash with Nottinghamshire at Headingley will go ahead.

“We should be fine because the forecast is good for the week,” said first-team coach Andrew Gale.

“Someone told me it’s going to be warmer than Ibiza this week! That’s the sort of weather we need to dry the ground off. If that comes, we’ll be fine.

“I am confident it will go ahead. The outfield has got better, but only slowly. We just haven’t had any drying weather. This is the first time the sun’s been out, it’s been above 10 degrees and there’s been a bit of wind.

“That rain last night set us back. If it hadn’t rained last night, I reckon we would have played some cricket.”

Gale went on: “It’s been incredibly frustrating. Since we got back from South Africa (March 20), we’ve hardly had any time outside, never mind game time.

“But I’ve just said to the boys ‘There’s no need to panic’. They’re all in a good place mentally, they’ve worked hard in the indoor nets. We just need a bit of time in the middle now and we’ll be off and running.”

This is not the first time the counties have been involved in a match without a ball bowled, and not the first here at Headingley. But that was in the era of three-day cricket.

These two sides suffered a three-day Championship abandonment at Sheffield’s Abbeydale Park in 1985 when, ironically, Essex were defending champions.

The last abandonment at Headingley came in 1967 between Yorkshire and Leicestershire.

RAINY DAYS: Water pours off the covers at Headingley on the first day of the County Championship season. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

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