By Guy Williams, The Cricket Paper.

As York prepares to put on its first Championship match in the city for almost 130 years, Yorkshire’s players trained at the Clifton Park ground this week to test the facilities before next month’s clash against Warwickshire.

While Yorkshire Seconds and the county’s ladies team, Yorkshire Diamonds, have played regularly at Clifton Park, home of York Cricket Club, the forthcoming four day game against Warwickshire, skippered by Jeetan Patel, York’s overseas player in 2003, promises to be a memorable occasion in the sporting history of a city that flourishes because of its past.

Yorkshire will be hoping that history repeats itself between June 17th and the 20th because way back in June 1890 the county, led by Lord Hawke, crushed Kent in two days to win by eight wickets at the old ground on Wigginton Road which is now a field next to a railway crossing.

As the current Yorkshire captain, Steve Patterson, and his team practised at Clifton Park, it’s quite astonishing to learn that the last time the county played a first class game in York, the reigning monarch, Queen Victoria, had celebrated her Golden Jubilee a few years earlier, her Empire spread worldwide, Lord Salisbury was Prime Minister, William Gladstone remained a giant figure in British politics in his eighties,WG Grace was still playing Test cricket and Yorkshire’s bowlers, according to the then regulations, delivered five ball overs.

In the present era, Nick Kay, York CC’s secretary, explains why Championship cricket is returning to the city:

“We were told last September that because of World Cup games and the Ashes at Headingley and the fact that Scarborough had already got two county matches, Yorkshire wanted to bring cricket to another out-ground.

“ Yorkshire were confident about the way we’d staged other high profile games and we said of course we’d put on the match, but we knew it would be challenging to bring the ground up to first class standards.

“The ECB gave us a grant of £30,000 so we’ve bought new sight screens, new covers and sheets and a portable scoreboard which is wired up to our main one.

“We’re expecting a crowd of up to 4,500 a day, so we’ve had to put in two temporary stands at a cost of £24,000 and they can take 2,100 spectators. They’ll be going up a week before the match.

“We’ve enough space at Clifton Park to take 1,000 cars and I’m glad to say that excitement is building up. Corporate hospitality is showing a good take-up and we think we can break even.

“Yorkshire say we have a pitch that’s true, and that York is a good place to play. I would hope that if we put on a decent show, I’d like to think we’ll get a couple of List A games next summer.”

While Kay takes care of organising the event, groundsman Jonathan Corcoran has the major responsibility of ensuring that York’s wicket is up to standard.

“We are absolutely thrilled and I don’t know what wicket preparation was like in 1890, but our record here of producing decent wickets is good. We’ve an excellent square.

“We’re comfortable with our facilities. Yorkshire have visited us twice, we work closely with them and we’re delighted to have the opportunity to prepare a four day wicket for a first class fixture that doesn’t come around every day.”

An image of Lauren Winfield-Hill and Adil Rashid, with the Yorkshire logo and Northern Diamonds logo in the middle

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