“2019 is the cherry on the icing on top of the three-tiered cake.”
So proclaimed Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur as he looked forward to a scrumptious set of international games at Headingley that summer.
An Ashes Test, four World Cup matches and a one-day international against Pakistan all add up to a yummy year from Yorkshire’s perspective.
So much so, one really wishes one could tuck into that three-tiered cake straight away instead of having to wait five years for the privilege, although there are plenty of mouthwatering international contests in Leeds before then.
2019 is indeed a significant year for the Yorkshire club. As well as the plum set of international ties, it is the final year of their 15-year staging agreement with the England and Wales Cricket Board that guarantees international matches at Headingley, and in March next year Yorkshire will submit their bid for the next tranche of England games from the year 2020 without the security of a long-term deal.
Yorkshire plan to raise Headingley’s capacity to 18,500 by 2019, thus boosting their bidding power in a competitive marketplace, and also to have substantially reduced their £24m debt by the end of that year.
A great set of international games will help their cause, but there is also plenty of hard work ahead.
“It’s exciting for Yorkshire and Headingley to be staging six major matches in 2019,” said Arthur. “It’s testament to the staff and our stakeholders, who have worked tirelessly over the last few years to get us in this position to be awarded these prestigious matches.
“To bring world-class sport to the region is absolutely massive for everyone connected. The summer of 2019 is going to be fantastic. Over the next few years we have a lot of work to do, but to have guaranteed international cricket up until 2019 gives us stability and long-term development.
“We will have some challenging years ahead as we look to eradicate the debt that has accumulated over the past few years, but we have shown remarkable growth this year and we have projected further growth next year.
“Hopefully, by the end of 2019, we will have made significant progress in reducing our debt and enhancing Headingley as a venue with our redevelopment plans.”
Those plans are essentially a £50m overhaul of the stadium to incorporate new stands and a new pavilion, heightening the impression of a club moving forward on and off the pitch.
Although Yorkshire are presently financially hamstrung, they have a solid business base, a wide catchment area and reason to believe they can stay afloat in an age of growing competition.
The announcement of the major matches for 2017-19 shows that traditional Test centres like Leeds are the winners.
Hampshire missed out on their bid for an Ashes Test, for instance, and the ECB have backed the grounds with the biggest capacities.
In addition to announcing the major matches, the ECB also last night recommended that the 2017 Champions Trophy in England follow the successful model of 2013, with The Oval, Edgbaston and Cardiff the venues proposed.
The ECB have also proposed that Lord’s stage the final of the 2019 World Cup and the final of the 2017 women’s World Cup, with the remaining venues for the women’s tournament set be recommended to the ICC next year.