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White Rose set to headline in York

— 27 November 2018

Yorkshire are taking Specsavers County Championship cricket to York next June.

The White Rose county will face newly-promoted Warwickshire at Clifton Park, starting Monday June 17.

Although Yorkshire do not expect to take Championship cricket back to York beyond 2019, they have entered into a three-year agreement with the club to take List A cricket there in 2020 and 2021.

York are also receiving an ECB grant as part of the agreement to further improve their already impressive facilities.

The only previous county match to be played in York was a Championship match at Wigginton Road in 1890 when Yorkshire beat Kent.

The news comes as part of the ECB’s release of the domestic schedule for the forthcoming summer, one which Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur describes as the most exciting ever.

Emerald Headingley will host four one-day World Cup matches, an Ashes Test, while Yorkshire have a host of mouthwatering fixtures, including the usual two Championship matches at Scarborough and away games against champions Surrey at Guildford (June 10-13) and Kent, the other promoted side, at Canterbury (May 14-17).

The season begins with the usual three-day friendly against Leeds/Bradford MCC Universities, this time at Weetwood from Sunday March 31.

Yorkshire then play their first Championship Division One match against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge from Friday April 5.

Yorkshire, who have only once played a Championship match as early in the year, will start the season with three successive away Championship matches, partly to try and avoid a repeat of last season’s washed out opener against Essex at Emerald Headingley.

“It’s effectively a one off for the Championship at York,” said Arthur.

“Unless something unplanned happens, we won’t be able to take four-day cricket back there in the foreseeable future because we are committed to both Scarborough and Emerald Headingley.

“The rationale behind it is this. Bradford (Park Avenue) isn’t ready yet. The square is ready, but the infrastructure isn’t capable of hosting first-class cricket at this time. The ECB also inspected Sheffield Collegiate, and the facilities aren’t ready yet either.

“Our options were York or go to Scarborough on three occasions.

“We felt that three at Scarborough wouldn’t only be a costly exercise, it might also spread the audience over three matches and not two.

“York have done such a fantastic job for us at second XI level and with the Diamonds.

“The quality of their pitches and infrastructure is excellent. We thought it was a great opportunity to take a game there.

“For our membership, York is our second largest catchment area outside Leeds. From that point of view, it’s better being there than travelling to Scarborough again.

“The fact it is a one off will capture the imagination of the public.

“We were down at the East Riding Cricket Society a couple of weeks ago and were hinting we may take a game to York, and they were very keen as it’s far more accessible for them than it is to get to Emerald Headingley.

“I think there are a number of bonuses, and the one off situation should make sure people say ‘I want to go there to see what it’s like and I was there’.

“The opposition are Warwickshire, which will be good. I’m sure Will Rhodes will relish playing at York in front of friends and family.

“I’d predict the crowd will be somewhere between the regular 2,000 we get at Emerald Headingley and the 5,000 we can get for the Festival. I’d say somewhere around the 4,000 mark for the first couple of days.

“But a lot will depend on the weather.

“They’re going to put up some temporary stands, and we encourage people to bring their own deckchairs.

“They’ve got masses of parking and will park cars on the rugby pitches.

“It is a venue definitely capable of hosting a first-class cricket match.

“It is a three-year agreement.

“They are going to receive a grant from the ECB towards a new electronic scoreboard, covers and sight screens.

“We have made a commitment that we will go there for at least three years. From 2020 onwards, we will take one or two List A matches to York. The ECB are supporting the development of out-grounds.

“When you talk to people about hosting a County Championship match, their excitement is something to behold. I think the City of York will really get behind the event.

“Jim Love, who is heavily involved both with us at Yorkshire and at York, has been a significant help.”

Yorkshire have previously spoken of their desire to take first-class cricket back to Bradford and Sheffield, which has not been ruled out despite this news.

Arthur continued: “You never know what the future holds. All the time the Hundred is being played at Emerald Headingley from 2020, there will be 50-over matches played by Yorkshire, and we will have to use out-grounds.

“We have a commitment to Scarborough, but it does give us the opportunity to look elsewhere.

“But the facilities have to be good – first of all the playing area and then other facilities such as officials, umpires, players and media.

“They are all things we have to take into consideration.”

The early part of the summer is loaded with Royal London one-day Cup matches, with the final of that competition to be played at Lord’s for the last time on May 25, six days before the start of the World Cup.

“I think the impact of the World Cup has had a positive effect from our point of view,” said Arthur.

“We don’t start our Championship programme at home until May 27.

“Members are always calling for more Championship cricket in the summer months, and I think we’ve got a pretty good spread.

“We asked to be away at the start of the season just in case we encounter a similar amount of rainfall to last winter. We said ‘If at all possible, could we be away for certainly the first couple of rounds in April?’. We didn’t realise the third game would be away as well, but it’s not a problem.

“I think this is going to be the most exciting summer of cricket ever for both England and at domestic level.

“Looking at our programme of games, it will be very busy, but there is going to be some fantastic cricket available in Yorkshire.

“There’s the World Cup, the Ashes and our own programme.

“There is also the Tour de Yorkshire, the World Cycling Championship, the World tri-series, the Leeds Half marathon and 10k. There is going to be so much sport going on, it will be fantastic.

“We obviously have the games at York and Scarborough, and we’re trying to fit in some T20 warm-up matches elsewhere as well.

“There’s also Guildford and a long awaited return to Canterbury, for the first time since 2012. That’s another mouthwatering prospect.

“There’s plenty of cricket for our members and supporters to enjoy in 2019.”

There are three Roses limited overs matches in 2019; one in the RL50 at Headingley on Sunday April 21 and two in the Vitality Blast at home on Thursday July 25 and at Emirates Old Trafford on Friday August 9.

The White Rose face a run of seven Championship matches in as many weeks, the first of which is the home opener against Hampshire at Emerald Headingley on May 27 and the last against Jack Brooks’ Somerset at the same venue from July 13.

The two Scarborough fixtures see Surrey visit from Sunday June 30 and Notts from Sunday August 18 for Festival week.

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