Lancashire v Yorkshire: Headingley shines in the international spotlight

MARK ARTHUR believes Emerald Headingley has enhanced its reputation as one of world cricket's leading venues after the successful staging of the Pakistan Test match, and he vowed that Yorkshire will not rest on their laurels amid intense competition to stage international games.

England leave the field after winning the 2nd NatWest Test match against Pakistan at Headingley on June 3, 2018 (Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

The Yorkshire chief executive described the early feedback from the Test as “extremely positive” and “full of plaudits” for Yorkshire’s performance, adding that the club had not lost out financially due to England’s victory inside three days.

Arthur said that the early finish was offset by set-up costs of between £30,000-£35,000 per day had the contest gone into a fourth or fifth day, with the club only budgeting for a three-day match.

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He also praised the behaviour of the crowds, the work of groundsman Andy Fogarty and his team for providing “a great cricket wicket”, and a small, tightly-knit group of club staff whom he described as “the best group of sports administrators I’ve worked with in my 30 years (involvement in the industry)”.

Hailing the match as “an operational triumph”, Arthur said: “I think our reputation as one of the leading venues has been enhanced both with the public and the England and Wales Cricket Board. The feedback that we’ve had so far from our customers at the ground, which goes back via the ECB, has been very positive and full of praise.

“We’re in huge competition nowadays with so many other sporting and leisure entities for the leisure pound, and unless we’re always on top of our game, people will find other things to do rather than come to Emerald Headingley to watch a game of cricket.

“But all of our staff, volunteers and stewards are doing a magnificent job and working tirelessly to keep us at the forefront of international cricket, and this was an outstanding operational performance.”

Time was when a Headingley Test practically came with the guarantee of crowd shenanigans, with the old Western Terrace notoriously volatile. But Yorkshire have transformed the ground’s image on Arthur’s watch, segregating the western part of the stadium and fostering a much more friendly environment.

Yorkshire's Mark Arthur at the top of the new stand looking out over Emerald Headingley. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

This year, the club introduced returnable pint glasses in that area, priced £1, with customers reclaiming their money on return of the glass.

This helped eliminate beer snakes and reduced plastic waste, with the scheme set to be rolled out across the ground for the sold-out one-day international between England and India on July 17.

“The atmosphere inside the ground was excellent,” said Arthur. “There was really good humour, there were no beer snakes, and ejections were in single figures on each of the three days.

“I thought the crowd behaviour was excellent, and I thank all those people who came along and behaved in the appropriate manner. The segregation of the old Western Terrace, with different allowable standards of behaviour, has been a huge success in the last four years, but what we haven’t done is sanitise things and that’s important because there’s still the atmosphere and fun going on, but it’s not done at other people’s expense.”

GREAT OCCASION: Joe Root performs the coin toss with Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

A total of 36,972 spectators watched the Test, with capacity reduced to 12,500 owing to the construction of the new Main Stand.

“We always knew this was going to be a transitional year because our capacity is reduced by the construction,” added Arthur. “People at the Test were very encouraged by what they saw being built and couldn’t believe how large the stand is going to be. When the stand is complete, the new capacity will be 18,350.”

Once more, Headingley maintained its reputation for compelling Test cricket, with the pitch and overheads playing their part.

“We had huge compliments about the pitch, and also how quick Andy Fogarty and his team were to get play back on after it rained on Saturday,” said Arthur.

“They were very proactive and could see on the radar when the rain was going to stop, so began mopping up before it had actually stopped by running the water hog over the plastic sheeting.

“Once again, there was something in it for bat and ball, and also plenty of carry as well. To top if off, we saw a great England win.”

Joe Root, the England Test captain, has been made available for Yorkshire’s Royal London One-Day Cup match against Northants at Headingley on Thursday (2pm), but Jonny Bairstow has been rested by England.

Yorkshire’s penultimate group game is a must-win affair at Lancashire today (11am), with Jos Buttler unavailable for the hosts, who can no longer qualify.

Yorkshire (from): Ballance, Bresnan, Brook, Carver, Fisher, Kohler-Cadmore, Lyth, Patterson (captain), Plunkett, Pujara, Rashid, Tattersall, Willey.