Bygones - Roses return to Scarborough evokes fond memories for Yorkshire CCC and Lancashire CCC

Yorkshire captain in 1991, Martyn Moxon
Yorkshire captain in 1991, Martyn Moxon
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MARTYN MOXON cannot remember anything about the hundred that he scored when Yorkshire last played Lancashire in a County Championship game at Scarborough almost three decades ago.

But he can remember the relief that he felt when he took the winning catch – after Lancashire had threatened to pull off the most unlikely of unlikely heists at North Marine Road.

Paul Jarvis and Martyn Moxon

Paul Jarvis and Martyn Moxon

“We had them in a lot of trouble,” said Moxon – Lancashire had been 99-7 and then 129-8 chasing 343 to win from a minimum of 80 overs.

“But then Ian Austin went berserk and they almost pulled it off.”

Austin, the big and burly Lancashire No 10, thumped 101 not out, reaching his maiden first-class hundred from 61 balls to win the Walter Lawrence Trophy for the fastest century of the 1991 season.

The 25-year-old seamer, who bowled right-handed and batted left, clubbed six sixes and 13 fours in one of only two centuries he scored in his career, sharing 83 in 11 overs for the ninth-wicket with Dexter Fitton and 82 in 13 overs for the tenth-wicket with Peter Martin as Lancashire got up to 294.

North Marine Road, Scarborough, England (Picture: Richard Sellers/SWpix.com)

North Marine Road, Scarborough, England (Picture: Richard Sellers/SWpix.com)

It was captain Moxon who finally helped bring the fun and games to an end, much to the delight of the home supporters in Yorkshire’s penultimate game of the year.

“It got very tense, but thankfully I managed to catch the last man Peter Martin off Peter Hartley,” he said. “Peter Martin nicked it, and I dived slightly forward and to my right to take it in the slips.

“It was certainly a huge relief, particularly for me as the Yorkshire captain, and it was a fantastic game of cricket and a great game to win. I loved playing at Scarborough full-stop, but to win there against Lancashire made it even better.”

It is a feeling which Moxon, now the club’s long-serving director of cricket, hopes to experience again next year when the Roses rivals lock horns at Scarborough for the first time since then after the fixtures for 2020 were announced last week.

The dates are no doubt already written into supporters’ diaries in big bold letters – Sunday June 14 to Wednesday June 17.

“It promises to be another fantastic game,” said Moxon. “Two very good teams on paper fighting it out, and I’m sure the public will support it in their numbers.

“You always look for the Roses games first when the fixtures come out. They’re still massive games which have stood the test of time.”

The meeting in 1991 was itself only the second Championship Roses match at North Marine Road after Lancashire had won the first by 184 runs in 1989.

Since then, the contests have been confined to the major centres of Headingley and Old Trafford, with the exception of a fixture at Liverpool in 2011.

Like all the best storylines that twist one way and then the other, Yorkshire had themselves been in trouble at the start of the 1991 contest, sliding to 18-3 after Moxon won the toss.

Moxon was caught behind off Phil DeFreitas, who also removed his opening partner Ashley Metcalfe before Simon Kellett departed to Peter Martin.

It would have been even worse had David Byas not been dropped on one in the slips, but Byas and Phil Robinson turned things around with a stand of 233 in 70 overs, Byas scoring 120 and Robinson a career-best 189.

Aided by half-centuries from Richard Blakey and a 20-year-old Darren Gough, Yorkshire eventually declared on 
501-6 – remarkably, their highest Championship total for 38 years.

Lancashire scored readily in reply, Gehan Mendis, the Sri Lankan opener, striking 114 before Mike Watkinson declared 98 runs behind on 403-7, Hartley capturing 5-100.

Moxon (115) and Phil Robinson (79 not out) helped Yorkshire up to 244-6 declared to set Lancashire their target, Gough ripping through the top-order to claim his maiden five-wicket haul in first-class cricket (5-41).

However, from nowhere, DeFreitas kick-started a Lancashire recovery, smashing 50 from 28 balls – including 28 in one over off left-arm spinner Phil Carrick.

Carrick, who had captured his 1,000th first-class wicket by dismissing DeFreitas in the drawn Roses match at Old Trafford the previous month, was then further attacked by Austin and the tail, finishing with 3-184 from 23 overs.

“It was a bit of a no-lose situation for Lancashire,” said Moxon, “and Austin just struck the ball really well, throwing caution to the wind.

“It was one of those occasions when, as captain, I thought, ‘We’ll keep Fergie (Phil Carrick) going because Austin is bound to mis-hit one sooner or later’.

“Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out like that, but that was the cat-and-mouse game that we pretty much played.”

With Gough new to the scene and fellow pace bowler Paul Jarvis missing most of the season with a hamstring injury, Yorkshire struggled for bowling penetration throughout the campaign, claiming the lowest number of bowling bonus points.

It mainly explained why they finished 14th in a Championship competition that then consisted of one division and 17 counties, with Durham not entering the fray until the following year.

In his captain’s report in the 1992 Yorkshire yearbook, Moxon estimated that Yorkshire’s lack of firepower cost them “another five or six victories” in 1991.

It also explained Yorkshire’s midsummer decision to break with tradition by signing an overseas player for the first time, the club recruiting Craig McDermott for the 1992 season only for the Australia fast bowler to pull out through injury.

In the end, Yorkshire plumped for a young overseas batsman by the name of Sachin Tendulkar, who turned out to be a pretty useful player by all accounts.

Of Yorkshire’s 1991 season, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack wrote: “With such slender resources at his disposal, Martyn Moxon faced a difficult job as captain, but he remained both optimistic and positive, always ready to risk defeat in the search for victory.”

It was an enterprise that paid handsome dividends in that Lancashire game at North Marine Road.