Yorkshire CCC prepare to hit the road to help spread cricket's appeal

MARTYN MOXON expects that Yorkshire will have to use more outgrounds in the future and welcomes the return of fixtures to York.

Ready for road trips: Yorkshire County Cricket Club's Martyn Moxon.

The county’s director of cricket said that it was likely that more games would need to be played away from the club’s Emerald Headingley headquarters due to the 100-ball tournament that starts in 2020.

Headingley is one of the eight host venues for that controversial competition, which will be played at the height of summer alongside the county 50-over Royal London Cup, which will effectively be reduced to a second-class event.

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York’s Clifton Park venue, which will stage its first County Championship game next year, is a potential outground option, as are the likes of Bradford and Sheffield, venues that complement Yorkshire’s premier outground of Scarborough’s North Marine Road, which stages two Championship matches per summer.

“With the increased use of Headingley with The Hundred going forward, we’re probably going to have to use outgrounds more than we have done in the recent past,” said Moxon.

“Personally, I think that’s a good thing as long as the pitches are good enough, because in this day and age you need to have a certain standard of facility as well.

“Health and safety and all that kind of stuff needs to be catered for, and facilities for spectators have to be good.

“But, from a club point of view, it’s a good thing to have a variety of options if they’re available.”

Yorkshire have played first-class cricket at 20 home grounds since their formation in 1863.

The bulk of those games have been held at their Headingley base (not since 1996 have Yorkshire played a home first-class match anywhere other than Headingley or Scarborough), but the club, historically, have spread their labours around the Broad Acres, performing at venues from Harrogate to Holbeck, from Huddersfield to Horsforth.

Next year, arguably the pick of Yorkshire’s home fixtures – from a novelty perspective at least – is the Championship match against Warwickshire at York that starts on June 17, the first Championship game to be staged in the city since 1890, the year when the Championship competition was officially constituted.

It has been made possible because Headingley is needed for the 50-over World Cup, while beyond that intriguing return to the county’s capital city, where the 1890 match was staged at the now defunct Wigginton Road venue, there are hopes that Sheffield’s Abbeydale Park ground and Bradford Park Avenue could once again host first-team fixtures.

“At the moment, York is the best pitch (outside Headingley and Scarborough) to cater for a first-team game in our opinion,” said Moxon.

“We’re looking forward to going there next summer, and, given decent weather, I think it will be well attended.

“From a pitch point of view, we’ve had some really good matches there in the second XI over the last few years, and it’s a good cricket pitch with a bit of pace and carry in it plus it also turns as well. It’s not as bouncy or as quick as Scarborough, but it’s a ground where seam and spin both get a chance.

“As far as the overall facilities at York are concerned, there’s going to be some extra seats brought in, while the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) have been very generous in the money that they’re going to give towards upgrading the scoreboard, sightscreens and things like that (the governing body are providing a grant of £30,000).

“I think it’s great, and it should make for a really good occasion.”

Commenting on next season’s fixture list in general, which sees the Royal London Cup played at the start of the summer to help England’s players best prepare for the World Cup that runs from May 30-July 14, Moxon said: “It’s never perfect, is it, the English cricket season?

“But, given the way it is with the World Cup and everything, I think it’s okay and it could certainly be a lot worse.

“We’ve got some Championship cricket in the middle of the summer, which is good, I think, for us and also our members, and I don’t think we can complain too much really.

“To have just two Championship games and then a load of 50-overs (at the start of the season) is not ideal, but it is as it is and there’s nothing that we can do about that.”