ONE can only hope that it is not another 129 years before York stages a game of first-class cricket.
As if to rail against that unconscionable period of waiting, during which countless lifetimes have come and gone, let alone seasons, this was a magnificent advert for Championship cricket, last played in this city in 1890.
Although the scoring rate never rose above 2.5 runs per over for much of the game, an aggregate crowd of 7,791 were nevertheless enthralled, including the 1,072 who saw yesterday’s climax.
Most of them, alas, left disappointed, Yorkshire falling to a three-wicket defeat, albeit with fond memories of Clifton Park and of a wonderful occasion put on by York Cricket Club, who deserve every praise. In truth, it had threatened to be an even closer game than it ultimately was.
The match was poised when Yorkshire started day four on 178-7 in their second innings, a lead of 183, and was no less finely balanced when the hosts were dismissed for 211 at 12.10pm, leaving Warwickshire 217 to win.
But after Oliver Hannon-Dalby, the former Yorkshire pace bowler, added four wickets to his first-innings five to finish with career-best match figures of 9-137, another former Yorkshire player in the shape of opening batsman Will Rhodes led the way with 83 as the visitors won with 10 overs left.
James Logan, the 21-year-old left-arm spinner, caused Warwickshire a few jitters towards the end with 4-22 from 13 overs, the maiden wickets of a first-class career that promises much.
“It was disappointing,” reflected Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first team coach, “because I feel that we got into positions of strength during the game.
“We were 93-1 in the first morning after being put in, in bowler-friendly conditions, then we lost five or six wickets in no time and suddenly you’re trying to scrape your way to 200.
“The batting in the second innings as well – we need to be more ruthless and consistent.
“To be a good team, a better team, we need to improve in those moments, but I thought that the target was competitive and you’ve got to give credit to Warwickshire, who played very well.”
After early rain cleared to permit a prompt start, the day developing into one of warm sunshine and a tempering breeze, Hannon-Dalby struck the first blow with the 15th ball of the morning, Steve Patterson chopping on after failing to add to his overnight nine.
While Hannon-Dalby charged in from the City End on his 30th birthday, Jeetan Patel, the 39-year-old Warwickshire captain, twirled away from the Shipton Road side, claiming his 700th wicket in all formats for his county when he bowled Logan with a quicker delivery that the young man tried to cut.
Moments earlier, Jack Leaning, back on his club ground, had gone to his third half-century of the Championship campaign, made from 151 balls with four fours.
His splendid innings ended as he sought his fifth boundary, trapped lbw for 65 as he aimed across the line at Patel.
Warwickshire reached 20-0 in the 11 overs before lunch, their only scare coming when Rhodes edged Patterson just shy of Adam Lyth at second slip.
Rhodes and Dom Sibley were content to accumulate on a pitch on which quick scoring was never easy, Yorkshire bowling tightly for the most part and unfortunate to concede a number of squirted as opposed to entirely convincing boundaries.
When the score had reached 80-0 from 30 overs, Rhodes belied the sedate tempo of the contest by suddenly launching a savage assault on Leaning’s off-spin from the Shipton Road end.
He struck the first two balls of Leaning’s third over for four, the next two for leg-side sixes, did not score off the fifth delivery and launched the sixth high over the leg-side rope too, giving him 26 runs for the over and in the process reaching his half-century from 92 balls.
Rhodes, 24, looked odds on to reach his fifth first-class century – and his third hundred in 11 days after successive tons for the Warwickshire second team.
But he was bowled by a ball from David Willey that seemed to keep low, ending the first-wicket stand at 132 in the 37th over, comfortably Warwickshire’s best opening partnership of the season.
“You wait, it will be 150-4 before you know it,” said one of the more pessimistic members of the visiting press corps.
But for all that Yorkshire battled hard, they always faced an uphill struggle, Sibley easing to his second half-century of the match and striking a six himself when he lofted Ben Coad over long-leg towards the Yorkshire dressing room.
Logan took his first wicket when Rob Yates skied to backward square-leg and then he had Sibley brilliantly caught one-handed at mid-off by Patterson, who then had Sam Hain caught behind.
Logan followed up by bowling Matt Lamb and Adam Hose, while Jordan Thompson had Tim Ambrose held at first slip before Patel, York’s overseas player in 2003, hit the winning runs, the Warwickshire players quietly celebrating with a few beers on the outfield at the end of the match – and why the devil not.