Yorkshire CCC’s capital return to forgotten destination of Glamorgan - Chris Waters

SO long had it been since Yorkshire last played a County Championship match in Cardiff prior to this week’s visit that Michael Vaughan, their young opening batsman, had yet to make his Test debut and Steve James, now a cricket writer for The Times, was one of his opposite numbers in the Glamorgan side.

David Byas: In charge on last visit.

The year was 1998, and a Yorkshire team captained by David Byas, and featuring such greats as Darren Lehmann, Ryan Sidebottom and Matthew Hoggard, won by 114 runs inside three days.

Just four times in the interim did Yorkshire visit Glamorgan for a first-class match – in 2001, when they won by 328 runs in Swansea, and in 2003, 2004 and 2012, when they drew games in Colwyn Bay, the last two badly affected by the weather.

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Since the move to two divisions, the sides have rarely featured in the same league, a reflection of Yorkshire’s consistency as a top-flight club.

Jason Gillespie: Remarkable figures.

One advantage of the new conference system is that clubs which might not have faced each other for many years, or visited certain grounds, are now able to do so in the re-worked format.

Personally, I remain unconvinced that the conference system, which sees the 18 counties split into three groups of six, is better than the previous system of two divisions of nine.

Indeed, for all that the new format might encourage the development of young players, say, and dissuade counties from making short-term signings due to the removal of promotion/relegation, so it potentially tolerates mediocrity and reduces the scrutiny on clubs/coaches.

Although I still have no real idea how the conferences were worked out (officially, a hybrid of finishing positions in the 2019 Championship, last year’s Bob Willis Trophy and with an element of local derby flexibility thrown in, whatever that all means), it cannot be good that Yorkshire had not visited a county headquarters in Cardiff for over two decades.

Michael Vaughan: Uncapped when Yorkshire last played in Cardiff.

Granted, Yorkshire fans have always flocked in their numbers to the pretty little ground in Colwyn Bay on the north Wales coast, with the White Rose always attractive and lucrative opponents for festival/outground fixtures.

But the situation is far from ideal and it means that Leicester and Bristol are now the county headquarters which Yorkshire have not visited for the longest period in first-class cricket, having last faced Leicestershire/Gloucestershire away in 2012, although they are regular visitors to Leicester in white-ball action.

Between their Championship visits to Cardiff this week and in 1998, Yorkshire have played just five times at Sophia Gardens/aka the Swalec Stadium in any first-team competition.

In 2002, they lost by 21 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis method in the 45-over Norwich Union League, when the current England head coach Chris Silverwood made the highest score of the match (55) when opening the Yorkshire innings.

In 2007, in a NatWest Pro40 League contest reduced to 35 overs per side, they cantered to an eight-wicket win with 17.2 overs to spare on the back of a 36-ball 66 from Gerard Brophy and an unbeaten 49 from fellow South African Jacques Rudolph. Earlier, Jason Gillespie returned the remarkable figures of 7-3-8-1.

In 2012, with Gillespie then coach, Yorkshire played twice at Cardiff in the space of a few hours, beating Sussex by 36 runs in the semi-final on T20 Finals Day, Jonny Bairstow starring with 68 not out, before a 10-run defeat to Hampshire in the final, in spite of the South African left-hander David Miller’s swashbuckling, unbeaten 72 when, from memory, he spent much of the evening peppering the River Taff with sixes.

Yorkshire’s last visit to Cardiff had come in 2016, when another swashbuckling left-hander, David Willey, cracked 79 from 38 balls to inspire a 90-run quarter-final victory against Glamorgan that took Yorkshire to what remains their only other T20 Finals Day appearance.

Cardiff, then, had become a forgotten destination for Yorkshire CCC.

To have the Welsh capital back on the map is, well, just capital.

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