Chris Waters: Women and Lions can only add to Scarborough’s appeal

The Scarborough Cricket Festival.
The Scarborough Cricket Festival.
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TODAY marks the end of the 128th Scarborough Festival with the second of two one-day internationals between England women and their Indian counterparts.

It is the first time since 1998 that the festival has been held over two weeks as opposed to one, with this year’s event also comprising a County Championship match against Sussex, two Royal London One-Day Cup games against Essex and Derbyshire, and a fixture between Yorkshire women and Lancashire women.

As anyone who has visited North Marine Road these past few days would testify, the festival has been a resounding success and remains one of English cricket’s enduring attractions.

The good news is that both Scarborough Cricket Club and Yorkshire County Cricket Club are minded to keep the extended format, which evokes memories of those days when the festival encompassed games involving such as TN Pearce’s XI and Rest of the World.

Under an agreement that lasts until 2020, Scarborough CC are guaranteed 10 days of Yorkshire cricket each summer, comprising two Championship games and two one-day matches.

The Championship games are split up (one is played in July and the other in August), so for the festival to be extended it needs to be fleshed out with representative fixtures of the type we have witnessed this 

As such, Scarborough are keen on attracting more women’s matches to the seaside venue plus those involving England Lions.

The Lions played a four-day game at North Marine Road against Sri Lanka A in 2011, and it would seem a perfect venue for those type of fixtures.

Bill Mustoe, Scarborough CC chairman, said the club are determined to develop the festival further.

“We want to build on this year,” he said.

“We would like Scarborough to become a centre for women’s cricket, for example, and would also be interested in staging more England Lions’ games.

“The more games we can stage in the school holidays, the better, for the population of Scarborough goes up from around 60,000 to around 250,000 during that period,” he said.

Mustoe and the hard-working staff at North Marine Road have a splendid relationship with Yorkshire and their chief executive, Mark Arthur.

A traditionalist at heart, Arthur recognises the appeal of cricket at Scarborough and is keen to strengthen ties between the clubs.

“Mark recognises the value of Scarborough to Yorkshire as a whole and is as keen as we are to develop the whole spectator experience,” said Mustoe.

“He is firmly behind what we’re trying to achieve, and the local council also appreciate the value of the festival to the area and to Yorkshire as a whole.”

Scarborough has worked hard in recent years to improve its facilities.

Stung by criticism in the national press – criticism from which it did not shy away – it has not taken its place in our hearts for granted.

On the evidence of the past two weeks, that place remains assured for the foreseeable future.

Cricket at Scarborough remains a great joy, and long may it continue to cast its spell.