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Leaning relishing return to happy hunting ground

— 11 June 2019

Jack Leaning may have been born in Bristol whilst his goalkeeping father Andy was playing for Bristol City in the early 1990s. But, make no mistake, he is a York lad through and through and calls Clifton Park home. No wonder he has been like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting for this fixture to come around.

Leaning, 25, moved league clubs from Heworth to York ahead of the 2013 summer and has been part of four league title wins, including the last two years running.

All the while, he has been trying to advance his county career with Yorkshire down the road at Emerald Headingley. And he has made a pretty impressive job of it.

A two-time County Championship winner in 2014 and 2015, he was named as the Young Player of the Year by Yorkshire and the Cricket Writer’s Club after scoring 922 Championship runs in the latter campaign.

By his own admission, Leaning hasn’t quite been able to hit the same heights since, but this summer has seen him make some crucial contributions, most notably timely half-centuries in away wins over Hampshire and Kent.

“I’ve been really looking forward to this game for ages,” he said.

“York are a brilliant club, and they’ve helped me out no end in the six years I’ve been with them.

“There’s some brilliant people there. They’ve worked really, really hard to get to this level, and to be rewarded with hosting a Championship fixture is a massive accolade. I’m sure it will be a special week.

“They’re very successful as a club side, having won a lot of league titles. It’s credit to the club that a lot of Yorkshire lads go and play their cricket there.

“The facilities are fantastic, the nets, the pitches.

  • “Hopefully it can be a really good spectacle and, somewhere down the line, this can become a regular fixture.

    “The facilities have always been there and thereabouts to host a Championship game. They’ve had some work done on the outfield to level it out recently, but the pitches have always been good.”

    Not surprisingly, Leaning is expecting to see plenty of familiar faces around the ground.

    “I think there’s quite a few of my friends and family coming down, so hopefully I can get a big score and a win because that would be a very proud moment,” he said before giving the inside track on how the pitch will play.

    “I think like any club ground it will spin towards the end of the game. But there’s always a bit of pace and carry in the pitches here, so there should be something in it for everyone.”

    White Rose wicketkeeper batsman Jonny Tattersall is another who calls Clifton Park home, despite being a Harrogate lad.

    “I only joined them last year, but I’ve played a lot of cricket at York for Harrogate and the Yorkshire second-team,” he said. “It should be a great week.

    “The pitches are fantastic, and there’s always a lot of runs scored.

    “It will be interesting to see how it holds up for four days. I don’t think it will have the pace and bounce that Scarborough has, but I think it will hold up just as well.”

  • Yorkshire’s squads are littered with players from the York area – spinner Karl Carver, fledgling fast bowler Ed Barnes and Academy duo Tom Loten and Finlay Bean (a York CC product) are just a few.

    Matthew Fisher is another. A seamer who made his Yorkshire debut aged 15, Fisher learnt his cricket with one of York’s rivals.

    Unfortunately, his start to 2019 has been ruined by back and thumb injuries, but he is fit now and hoping to force his way into Andrew Gale’s side.

    “I can’t believe they aren’t playing this game at Sheriff Hutton Bridge – that’s the home of cricket!” he smiled.

    “Bridge have always had a rivalry with York. As juniors, we always used to play on the pitch next door in finals and things like that. It was fairly intense.

    “But since I’ve played second team there for Yorkshire, you obviously realise that it’s a really nice club with some great people running it.

    “It’s a great pitch. If you bowl well, you get rewards. It’s the same for batsmen. I’ve always done well there. I think I’ve had two five-fors for the seconds.

    Fisher added: “It will be a special week. The amount of members that Yorkshire have from York, it’s one of the most populated areas in the county.

    “To have a game on their backdoor step is good.

    “It’s also good for me. I get to stay at home with mum, and she’ll cook for me every night. Bonus.”

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