YORKSHIRE County Cricket Club have a vast source of untapped support on their doorstep.
That is the message from chief executive Mark Arthur, who is embarking on an ambitious winter programme to spread the club’s message to the county’s cricket clubs.
Arthur wants to engage with as many cricket lovers as possible to encourage more people to watch cricket at Headingley.
“One of the key things for me is interaction,” he said.
“There are 43,000 people playing cricket in Yorkshire, 747 clubs, 1,700 teams that are playing every weekend and we have little or no relationship with them.
“What we are going to do, as Yorkshire cricket club, is to go around and speak to those who want to talk about Yorkshire cricket and try to engage them in Yorkshire cricket life.
“At the same time, we want to understand the issues that are facing club cricketers as well.”
One of the most significant is that club cricketers are often unable to watch Yorkshire or England at Headingley because they are playing cricket themselves.
Yorkshire are trying to address that by slashing ticket prices for the Monday of next summer’s Test against Sri Lanka and by introducing a Twenty20 season-ticket to watch Yorkshire play on Friday nights.
“We all know these people love cricket; otherwise, they wouldn’t be playing it,” said Arthur.
“And, of course, one of the big issues is that they are playing it and haven’t got the time to come and watch Yorkshire or England at Headingley.
“On the international side of things, we felt that the point of entry for international cricket this year was too expensive and what we’ve done is introduce lower price points for certain areas of the ground and a really special price for the Monday of the Test with club cricketers in mind.
“Basically, if people buy an adult ticket for the Test prior to Christmas, they can come and watch international cricket at Headingley on the fourth day for £15; this year the lowest price was £35.
“Across the board, we are bringing in a £5 discount off the adult price if you buy a Test match ticket prior to Christmas, but the specific one for the club cricketers is the Monday.
“What we’re saying is, take a day off work, come down for £15 if you buy a ticket before Christmas, and you could be watching anything between two and five Yorkshiremen on day four of the Test match.
“In addition, with Twenty20 matches predominantly on Friday nights from next year, we’re going to introduce a T20 season ticket to watch Yorkshire at Headingley.
“If you were to buy an adult ticket for every match, there are six matches priced at £20 and one at £25, so that’s £145, but the season-ticket will be £70 and it guarantees being at the Lancashire game, which was a sell-out this year.”
Arthur will be accompanied on his visits to the county’s cricket clubs by some of the Yorkshire players and various officials.
He believes he will learn much about what people want from Yorkshire in the process.
“I’ve spoken individually to every single player and asked them if they are willing to play their part, and they have said yes,” added Arthur. “Some have said that they haven’t been asked to do enough of this in the past and how much they want to engage with the local community.
“We’ve got 25-30 clubs booked up already and there will be four or five of us present at every event. We will learn a lot about what people think about Yorkshire cricket in the process and, armed with that knowledge, we can further refine and improve our product.”