Forecast gives Yorkshire hope for getting underway at second time of asking

YORKSHIRE are confident that they can get their County Championship season going at the second attempt after suffering their first washed-out Championship match at Headingley for 51 years.

Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale and umpire Ian Gould leave the field on the first day at Headingley last Friday. The match was eventually abandoned without a ball being bowled. Picture: Allan McKenzie/
Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale and umpire Ian Gould leave the field on the first day at Headingley last Friday. The match was eventually abandoned without a ball being bowled. Picture: Allan McKenzie/

The club are optimistic that Friday’s fixture against Nottinghamshire at Headingley will proceed after the game against champions Essex was yesterday abandoned without a ball bowled.

It was Yorkshire’s first Championship washout at Leeds since the visit of Leicestershire in 1967, and their first anywhere since they faced Sussex at Hastings in 1987.

The last Championship washout anywhere in Yorkshire was when Essex visited Sheffield in 1985, but Yorkshire first-team coach Andrew Gale said that the Notts fixture is not in danger.

“We should be fine because the forecast is good for the week,” said Gale. “Someone told me that it’s going to be warmer than Ibiza this week, so that’s the sort of weather we need to dry the ground off.

“If that comes then we’ll be fine. I am confident (the match will go ahead).”

Yorkshire have lost all seven of their scheduled days’ cricket at Headingley so far, with a three-day game against Leeds-Bradford MCCU also perishing.

Andy Fogarty, the head groundsman, described the weather in the run-up to the season as “the worst I’ve known in 30-odd years”, while Yorkshire have denied suggestions – mostly tossed around on social media – that there is anything wrong with Headingley’s drainage system.

Gale described the ground as “incredibly wet”, even though it looks “really fit” from beyond the boundary. He added that the building site at the rugby ground end, where a new stand is being built, has been flooded by the water that has already drained off the cricket field.

Yorkshire felt unable to get drying machinery on to the problem areas at the Rugby Stand end, for fear of bringing more water to the surface.

However, Essex, led by head coach and former Yorkshire captain Anthony McGrath, wondered whether more might have been done to expedite matters.

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

“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.

“The frustration 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.”

While Essex now turn their attention to a match against Lancashire at Chelmsford on Friday, Yorkshire prepare for a Notts team who beat Lancashire yesterday by six wickets at Old Trafford.

Twelve wickets fell in 15 overs on the final morning, Notts losing four of them en route to a 10-run victory target.

Gale is predicting a difficult challenge against a side promoted last season from Division Two.

“There’s so many tough games in this division,” he said. “It doesn’t always align to what 11 you’ve got on paper.

“You only had to look at Essex last year; people were tipping them to go straight back down and they ended up winning it.

“The main thing is that we don’t underestimate anyone. We certainly won’t be turning up thinking it’s an easy game against Notts.

“They’ve got some dangerous players in their team and are quite an explosive side. But we’ll do our homework and prepare best as we can.”

Gale hopes to have last year’s leading wicket-taker Ben Coad available after a hip injury, with the pace bowler potentially replacing all-rounder Matthew Waite in the team that had been expected to line up against Essex.

However, the match is likely to come too soon for experienced pace bowler Steve Patterson (broken finger).

“Coady is going to play in a second team game at Old Trafford Tuesday/Wednesday and we’ll pull him out Wednesday night if everything goes to plan,” said Gale. “Then I’d expect him to be in the fold for Friday, for sure.

“Patto is adamant that he is going to try and have a bowl this week, but it’s less than a week since he had a double fracture in his finger, so that’s a long shot.

“As for whom Coady would replace, we’ll just have to see how the week goes and who performs best.”

Gale has given his players today off, saying that “the lads have spent four days at the ground and need to clear their heads”.

A full-on practice session will take place tomorrow, followed by a lighter one on Thursday, before the serious stuff – fingers crossed – finally begins.