Neil Hartley, Yorkshire’s new vice-chair, is hoping the club’s members and supporters still get the chance to see some four-day cricket this summer as the England and Wales Cricket Board consider their post-Coronavirus plans.
The first seven rounds of the County Championship programme – Yorkshire had six games scheduled in that time – have been cancelled and no cricket will be played in England before May 28 at least, with that date widely expected to be extended.
The ECB have already said they will be prioritising the shorter formats and international cricket in any new schedules, but four-day cricket remains hugely popular, especially within the White Rose county.
Former Yorkshire all-rounder Hartley, earlier this month appointed to work alongside new chair Roger Hutton, has also said he hopes to see the Roses match at Scarborough – currently slated for June 14-17 – played at some point if possible.
“The shorter formats, the T20 Blast and the Hundred, are the income generators and are vitally important,” said the 1983 John Player League winner. “But it would be sad not to see any four-day cricket in whatever form that is.
“It depends how condensed the summer becomes. If we can get three full months at it, we might be able to get half of a Championship season in. Whether the board (ECB) would consider that enough to award a trophy for, I don’t know.
“But a lot of our membership like four-day cricket, and it would be great to give them something as well as the shorter formats.
“I did look the other day and thought about that Lancashire fixture at Scarborough. To lose that would be very disappointing for everyone – for the club at Scarborough and for all the supporters looking forward to going over there.
“The support over there for the last couple of years in particular has been really, really good. We’ve been getting plus 5,500, and I certainly think that fixture would pull in another couple of thousand.
“Whether it can still be fitted in, who knows. Everything is just speculation at the moment. That’s the problem.”
In March, chief executive Mark Arthur spoke about how the club were aiming for that clash to be the biggest attended four-day fixture in the country this summer.
And the club are now determined to fit as much cricket as they can into whatever timeframe the current situation allows.
Hartley continued: “I just felt it was such a great opportunity for us as a county to take that fixture there, and for Scarborough CC, who need that kind of help.
“If that fixture could be played it would be terrific.
“I don’t know whether it would need to be part of some sort of competition rather than just be a one-off fixture. Maybe it wouldn’t. If people have been starved of cricket in the first half of the summer, they could flock there whatever the context.”
Hutton and Hartley, who work full-time in law and sports insurance respectively, were appointed to their new roles at Emerald Headingley at the start of the month.
Hartley played first-team cricket for Yorkshire between 1978 and 1989 and second-team cricket until 1991. He was awarded a benefit year in 1992.
“I’m pleased the board has faith in me to do this role,” he said. “It’s a new position in terms of what the club has had in the past.
“Working alongside Roger, I’m more than comfortable. He’s a really good choice to lead the board going forwards, particularly in difficult times. His legal expertise will be important for us.
“Robin Smith had previously done a fantastic job in the role as chairman and had attended both home and away matches.
“With Roger and I still in full-time roles within our businesses, we have some time pressures. And so we felt doing the job on a joint basis would enable us to fulfill all the roles.
“That was some of the thought process behind the structure.
“We’ve both got different areas of knowledge to a certain extent, his legal and mine more on the cricket side of things.
“We’ll try and dovetail those two sets of skills in order to contribute to and build on the progress the board and the club has made over the last few years.
“We get on well, have known each other for quite a long time now but have come closer together a bit more recently since Roger was invited to sit, in attendance, on the board meetings last year.
“Then, his formal engagement with the club at this year’s AGM was certainly well received by the existing board members.