By Graham Hardcastle.
Jim Love, a trophy-winning batsman for Yorkshire through the seventies and eighties and now heavily involved at York Cricket Club as head coach, is hoping the forthcoming Specsavers County Championship match against Warwickshire at Clifton Park can spark memories of special weeks gone by.
“Back when I played, Yorkshire played at a lot of Festival grounds, and I think we have the makings of this being that kind of occasion,” admitted the three-capped England ODI player of the Division One fixture, starting a week on Monday.
“We are not intending to rival Scarborough. It’s pretty special there.
“A lot of people stay in the town for those games. I don’t think that will happen quite as much in York. I think we’ll get a lot of day visitors.”
Yorkshire are taking a game to York for the first time since 1890 (the now defunct Wiggington Road) given Emerald Headingley’s heavy international schedule.
They did not want to take a third game to Scarborough, and with other outground options at Bradford and Sheffield not up to standard yet, York CC was the obvious choice.
The club regularly host Yorkshire second team and Diamonds Kia Super League games and have spent heavily on upgrading facilities at Clifton Park over the past decade, including relaying the outfield ahead of last summer.
“It’s huge for the club and a massive honour to be asked to host a Championship game,” said Love, who won the Gold award for his 75 in the B&H Cup final win over Northamptonshire at Lord’s in 1987 and now doubles up as Yorkshire’s county age-group performance manager.
“There’s a lot of work gone in over the last few years to get to the stage we have.
“We have hosted quite a lot of Diamonds and second XI games on pitches to the standard required for Championship cricket.
“We relayed the outfield, and I don’t think we’d have been looked at without that being done. I just hope the weather lasts four days.”
A 2,000-seater temporary stand has also been erected, and Yorkshire are estimating a day one crowd in the region of 4,000.
“I think we’ll get a lot coming along because it’s the first game in the city for 100-odd years. They’ll want to say, ‘I was there’,” said Love.
“The city of York – the council, everyone – has been really supportive.
“Mark Arthur (Yorkshire’s chief executive) has been a key player in this. He’s a visionary when it comes to this sort of thing. I walked around the ground with him, and he said, ‘I can see what would happen here and there’. I was like, ‘Wow’.
“The one thing we do have over Scarborough is more space to do other things.
“There will be the usual stuff like the Foundation’s Museum, bouncy castles for the kids, there’s a Food Village going in, and we have lots of parking on the Rugby Field.”
York CC look set to have two of their own players in Yorkshire’s team, batsman Jack Leaning – a York boy – and Harrogate-born wicketkeeper Jonny Tattersall.
“There’s quite a few Yorkish lads in and around the side,” added Love, who also gave an indication of pitch conditions. “Jack, in particular, will absolutely love it, and we desperately hope he gets some big runs, Jonny as well.
“Our groundsmen, Jonathan Corcoran and Steve Machen, have prepared two pitches to choose from. Both should have reasonable bounce and carry and could potentially turn third and fourth day.”
Tickets are available to purchase online for Yorkshire’s Specsavers County Championship match against Warwickshire at York CC.