YORKSHIRE believe they have taken a step forward in their efforts to guarantee the long-term future of international cricket at Headingley by selling out today’s one-day match between England and India.
A crowd of 16,500 is expected in a fillip not only to the club’s finances but also to their hopes of hosting England games in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Yorkshire face losing international cricket post-2019 when their staging agreement expires with the England and Wales Cricket Board, a deal struck as part of their buy-out of the Headingley ground in 2005.
They will need to negotiate a new deal with the governing body in the face of fierce competition from grounds such as Chester-le-Street, Cardiff and Southampton, who are all similarly eager to host international fixtures.
Yorkshire must prove to the ECB that Headingley can match such new kids on the block, with nine grounds now effectively vying to stage seven Tests each year.
Earlier this summer, Yorkshire unveiled an ambitious £50m masterplan to transform the stadium in the next 20 years.
In the meantime, the successful staging of international games – and specifically the ability to sell them out – is the best way Yorkshire can show the ECB that Headingley deserves an international future.
Andy Dawson, the club’s commercial director, said a full house for the India fixture was an encouraging sign.
“It’s good that we’ve been so well-supported and it bodes well for the future as we look to be a venue of choice for the ECB,” he said.
“Ticket sales have gone really well, and it’s great for the Leeds city region and the county as a whole.
“International cricket is very important to the club, and we’re delighted that the Yorkshire public and the wider region have come out to support.
“The appetite for international cricket in-and-around Yorkshire is very strong, and ticket sales seem to have been as good here as anywhere else in this one-day series.”
Yorkshire expect to generate £1.1m revenue from the match and have sold all 1,400 hospitality places.
Staff have worked hard since the end of last summer to market the game, and Dawson believes all can be proud of their efforts.
“I think we’ve done a tremendous job,” he said.
“We’ve got a hard-working team who have pulled out all the stops.
“In terms of ticket sales and the value the match provides, it works out at around 10-12 per cent of the club’s total revenue.
“It’s an important game for us financially.”
All Yorkshire need now is some luck with the weather. Incredibly, three of the last five ODIs at Headingley have been washed out.
In 2009, the match between England and the West Indies was abandoned just weeks after a new drainage system had been installed which had insufficient time to bed in.
In 2012, another England-West Indies fixture fell foul of the weather, while last year’s match between England and Australia also went by the wayside.
“We’ve had some real bad luck in recent years,” reflected Dawson.
“This time, the weather looks set fair – touch wood.”