Chris Waters – Why Yorkshire no longer ‘like to be beside the seaside’

IT’S TIME for Yorkshire to arrest their Scarborough slump.

Sunday, 30th June 2019, 10:40 am
Updated Sunday, 30th June 2019, 11:40 am
Cricket by the sea: A general view of Scarborough's North Marine Road ground.

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They have lost their last four County Championship matches at the ground and five of the last six.

They have not won there since August 2016. They have become strangers to success at their second home.

For all that Yorkshire supporters love going to Scarborough, where Surrey are the visitors for the fixture that starts tomorrow, it has developed into an unhappy hunting ground for the White Rose.

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The sequence began in July, 2016, ironically after Yorkshire had won their previous four Championship games at the venue.

On that occasion, defeat by an innings and four runs to Middlesex was, in retrospect, a pivotal moment in the title race.

Middlesex’s 61-run victory in the return game at Lord’s – after Yorkshire threw the kitchen sink at a target of 240 from 40 overs in an effort to clinch the title on the last day of the season – saw them seize the crown at Yorkshire’s expense. Without that win at Scarborough, they could not have done it.

A 16-point swing the other way (assuming that all subsequent results had stayed the same) would have given Yorkshire the Championship by one point.

That Scarborough game was one that Yorkshire should never have lost in a million years.

They scored 406 in their first innings, with a hundred from Gary Ballance and fifties from Alex Lees and Tim Bresnan.

It looked like being a draw after time was lost to rain, but, after starting the final day on 470-8 in reply, Middlesex thrashed 107 from 9.4 overs through Toby Roland-Jones and Tim Murtagh, reaching 577 all out and gaining a lead of 171.

Yorkshire were then dispatched for 167 – and a decisive blow in the summer was struck.

The following month, Yorkshire thumped a sorry Nottinghamshire, who finished bottom of the table, by 305 runs at Scarborough, Yorkshire’s last Championship victory at the ground.

In 2017, no home batsman made a half-century as Somerset won by 179 runs at Scarborough in July; then, a month later, Yorkshire suffered one of their worst defeats – inside two days – as Essex hammered them there by eight wickets, Pakistan pace bowler Mohammad Amir taking 10 in the match.

The story continued last summer as, first, Surrey won by seven wickets, thereby continuing a remarkable sequence in which the champions have won at Scarborough in each of the last six seasons (Surrey 2018, Essex 2017, Middlesex 2016, Yorkshire 2015 & 2014, Durham 2013).

It seems improbable that Yorkshire or Surrey will keep that run going this year, although there is still half of the season to play.

Yorkshire also lost by an innings and 186 runs to Worcestershire at Scarborough last season, a match made memorable by England all-rounder Moeen Ali’s incredible achievement of scoring a double hundred and taking eight wickets in the game.

Not long afterwards, Worcestershire were relegated.

It is not so much a case of “oh we do like to be beside the seaside”, then, as one of “oh we don’t like to be beside the seaside” for Yorkshire in recent years, something that the club are desperate to change.

They could certainly do with a win at Scarborough next week, followed by another one when lowly Nottinghamshire return to North Marine Road in August.