The club had intended to undertake the circa £100,000 work prior to this season after identifying issues with a layer of thatch that can cause a build-up of water after heavy rain. But it was put on hold due to difficulties caused by the pandemic and will now be completed at the end of the summer.
Yorkshire have long experienced problems at the Emerald Stand end – leading to the complete abandonment of a County Championship match in 2018. The problems reared their head again yesterday when, despite glorious sunshine and the fact that 23.2 overs were bowled after play started at 12pm, umpires Ian Gould and Nigel Llong were forced to call a halt after water began rising to the surface following the heavy rain of the previous day.
They took the players from the field at 2.35pm – almost immediately after a 20-minute delay while Yorkshire pace bowler Dominic Leech was treated for an injury to his left leg after he slipped and slid into the concrete base of the West Stand while preventing a boundary.
Leech lost his footing as his momentum carried him beyond the boundary and he had to be stretchered off after being attended to by medical staff.
Andrew Gale the Yorkshire first-team coach, said: “Dom’s been taken to hospital. He had pain on the outside of his left knee. Whether it was the slip that caused it and it’s something functional, or whether it’s because he hit his knee on the concrete, I don’t know. You’ve got to feel for the lad; it’s the first game he’s played in the first team this year.”
Gale went on: “He’s a pretty tough cookie, is Dom – he’s from Middlesbrough. He was in a lot of pain. Hopefully he’ll be ok. He got his second team cap in the morning. His girlfriend and his dad’s here. It’s sad to see.”
Although Leech, 20, injured himself in front of the West Stand, after Luke Wells launched a full toss from spinner Dom Bess over mid-wicket, it was the bowler’s run-up at the Emerald Stand end that caused the concern.
After an early tea was called when the umpires led the players off, just 45 minutes after lunch had finished, the umpires reappeared to inspect that area – a process they repeated some 55 minutes after tea had ended, by which time a restless crowd greeted their arrival with cries of “you don’t know what you’re doing”. It was another 35 minutes before play was finally abandoned – two hours, ten minutes after the last ball was bowled.
Neither Gale nor his Lancashire counterpart Glen Chapple had anything but sympathy for the umpires and also the spectators. “I trust Gunner (Gould) and Longy (Llong) to make the right decision because they’re two very experienced umpires,” said Gale. “If it’s not fit, it’s not fit, and they didn’t want a situation where Jimmy Anderson, say, was running in and rolling his ankle or something like that.
“There’s no doubt – we’ve seen it before – that end of the ground (the Emerald Stand end), there’s something wrong with it, and the umpires basically felt as the day went on and there was more traffic on that side of the pitch, it was bringing the water up.
“You think you’ve seen everything in cricket and then this happens, and I do feel sorry for the members because they’ve been starved of cricket for so long, the sun was out and it’s a Roses game.”
Chapple concurred: “The umpires are doing their job and they’re as disappointed as anyone. There was a lot of rain yesterday (Monday) and we turned up this morning and the ground was still wet. Maybe the heat brought some more moisture up and it went from being just playable to not playable. It was disappointing for everbody.”
Play started at noon after a one-hour delay. Lancashire resumed on 273-2 from 96 overs and advanced to 342-2 by the 110-over cut-off mark for bonus points, giving them three batting points and Yorkshire no bowling points – the first time Yorkshire have suffered that fate since they played Worcestershire at Scarborough in 2018.
It was the first time that Yorkshire had inserted and not taken a bowling point in their full complement of overs since they played Sussex at Hove in 2011, since when it has happened to only one other county – Leicestershire at Middlesex later that year.
Lancashire were 411-2 when play was abandoned, with Wells on 97 and Josh Bohannon 74.