I mentioned last week our secretary’s honour of scoring for England under 19s against Ireland the week before – I had not realised that Jason Pitcher was one of the umpires that day, so my congratulations to him too! Jason is one of our best umpires – and he was not a bad wicketkeeper with Castleford and Sheffield Collegiate either! Another of that breed who keep umpires on their toes! They say in football that you have to be mad to be a goalie, and I think wicketkeepers are similar. 
Sea fret at Cleethorpes 
Nearly there - Simon Guy brings prceedings to an end in the final 
Last Friday morning, I was at Craven Park bright and early for my first Trustees meeting. It was most interesting and, I have to say rather more civilised than one or two cricket meetings I have been to. I was back there again in the evening for Volunteers Night. As I commented last week, the club depend on the large number of volunteers who perform a range of roles on match days and, on behalf of the Community Trust, throughout the week. There were a couple of blokes there who had given over twenty years’ service to the club, one of whom received a richly-deserved lifetime achievement award. The Club President, Mike Smith, a former player with a record 489 first team appearances to his name, made a short address of thanks, two current players were there to present awards and certificates, and there was some light-hearted entertainment. It was good to see the club doing things the right way. 
On Saturday lunchtime, my half-cousin Malcolm popped over from the West Riding with his wife, Eileen, and we had a bit of lunch before our regular visitors arrived. It felt more like a Sunday, but, even with the cooking, which Kirsty and I shared until Millie arrived to commandeer my attention, it was a very pleasant and relaxing day, topped off with an excellent bottle of South African red and a couple of episodes of Bosch. 
It had poured down in the early part of the morning, so it was no surprise that all our games were washed out for the second time ever. So it is ‘as you were’ in the table, and Doncaster have a 20-point lead with six games to go. As we come to this stage of the season, there are some really key games coming up. It will not be easy for Doncaster against Treeton on Saturday; Collegiate have a difficult game at Shaw Lane; Cleethorpes really need to start picking up points, starting at Baxter Field on Saturday; and Aston Hall v Wickersley will have a big bearing on what happens at the bottom of the table in just over a month’s time. It will be a big challenge for Hallam, but they go to Field Lane in the unusual position of them having won their last two league games whilst Thornes have lost their last two. 
On Sunday morning it was at least dry, and Steve phoned to say that the sun was trying to poke through at Cleethorpes, so we breakfasted and set off early. Collegiate were on first, and I wanted to make sure we saw most of their game. Bourne were around 80-3 off 12 overs when we arrived, and as we walked round to the scorebox, they reached 112-6 at the start of the 19th over. This was bowled by Jamie Carrington, who took four wickets for just two runs to bring a summary end to the innings. 115 seemed a very straightforward target for Collegiate, particularly when they took 15 off the first over. But after that over, Bourne bowled very well, and by the time Matt Lee was run out off the first ball of the 19th over, 18 were wanted off the last eleven balls with just two wickets left. But, ‘cometh the hour, cometh the man’ and skipper Josh Varley calmly steered his side home with an unbeaten 33 off 31 balls. 
After Cuckney, who looked second best for most of the second innings, had staged a comeback to beat Denby in another close game, the final was more straightforward. Collegiate had Cuckney in a lot of trouble at 20-4 after six overs, and although they recovered to post 144-5, that total looked quite inadequate when Harry McNeilly and Simon Guy raced to 71 in 7 overs. McNeilly and Hunt departed at the same score, but Henry Eldred joined Guy to put on 50 for the third wicket, and Guy saw Collegiate home with an unbeaten 71 off 44 balls – with seven wickets and 22 balls to spare. I had not previously seen at Cleethorpes the type of sea fret that is all too familiar at Scarborough, but we saw it on Sunday, and I even wondered at the start of the second innings of the final if we’d be able to finish. I must say that the pink ball was much easier to pick up in those conditions – from the boundary anyway! 
Collegiate now go to play Hanging Heaton on 18th August for a place in the national finals day in September. Hanging Heaton are the national champions, but Collegiate will go there full of confidence, and they will have Shaaiq Choudhry back for the trip. We wish them all the very best of luck! Thanks to all at Cleethorpes CC, who did a magnificent job of hosting, as ever; to Steve Ward for his organisation; and to the three umpires Duncan Jones, Nick Oddy and Adam Seymour, who did a great job on the day – particularly in a rather feisty second game, when they had a key decision to make; consulted, and got it spot on. 
Collegiate were not the only YSPL team who had a great result on Sunday. Whitley Hall went to play Viking Cricket Cup holders Woodhouse Grange in their semi-final and knocked them out convincingly on their own pitch; and Wakefield Thornes comfortably beat Doncaster at Town Fields. So for the first time, we have two YSPL teams in the final, which was due to be hosted by Yorkshire League North at Beverley Town – convenient to no-one in the YSPL but me, as it is just over six and a half miles from my house! I therefore contacted the chairman of North, Paul Harrand, on Monday morning, and he readily agreed to the game being switched to one of our grounds. 
We had drawn up a list of possible venues on Sunday, and by Tuesday morning I had made arrangements for the game to be staged at Elsecar. It is a good ground, they are used to hosting finals, they will get a good attendance, and I am confident they will do a good job. I am already looking forward to 25th August! 
On Monday morning, Kirsty was off to Leeds early, so I got in a walk and did some cricket work before Richard came round for his cup of coffee prior to our trip to Goodmanham. The beer and the company were on good form, and we passed a few very pleasant hours before I caught the bus home. More walking, and the usual cricket and rugby work followed on Tuesday, and yesterday Kirsty and I caught the 7.00am London train from Hull. Me to go to the ECB Premier League chairmens’ meeting in St Johns Wood, Kirsty on her way to join her family on a holiday at Hayling Island. 
I met fellow Yorkshire chairmen David Young from Bradford and Chris West from NY&SDL on arrival, and the meeting itself was informative. We discussed ECB priorities, revised Premier League Accreditation standards, future funding, the importance of providing the type of cricket that players will want, national competitions, and umpire and scorer recruitment. The latter is a priority area. There is a shortage of umpire and scorers across the country – we do not feel it at Premier League level, but our clubs do, and we must do our share to address the situation. ECB ACO are to run a recruitment campaign, they were seeking volunteer leagues to work with on pilots, and I will volunteer us. 
The volunteer word again. Sometimes, some of us forget that the people running leagues, clubs, and umpires’ associations are all volunteers, who give up their time freely and willingly. They sometimes get undeserved hassle, experience a lack of respect, and a lack of recognition of the work they do, that makes them wonder why they bother – it is only a dedication to their organisation that makes them carry on. If I could set an ECB priority, it would be to increase respect for each other. 
At the meeting, I had my photo taken with the cricket world cup. Anyone less deserving to be near that trophy is hard to imagine – there may have been worse players than me, but I have never seen one. But it reminded me that I did not recognise England’s success in the blog – and right to the very end I thought they were going to blow the opportunity. But they didn’t, they won it, and it is a brilliant achievement. And it is great for us to have one of the best players so closely associated with one of our clubs. I hope that the success can be used to give the recreational game the boost it needs. 
I had to catch the train straight back after the meeting, because I was booked to host an event at a Rovers Heritage Night, including giving a presentation and interviewing two former players. We had a very good attendance, it all went well, and everyone seemed to enjoy it – a very good end to a full day! 
This morning, I had a long talk with our umpires’ chairman, David Sharp. David and I go back to our umpiring days on the Yorkshire League, and that shared background is important. David calls a spade a bloody shovel, but I don’t mind that at all. If he doesn’t agree with you, he says so, and you know where you are. He always has views and ideas, and you can discuss your differences and find a way forward. We did that, and it will be to the good of both our organisations. 
On Saturday, I shall go across to Barnsley to get some fish & chips from Shaws’, pop into Shaw Lane to eat them, to see Mark Beardshall and take a few photos, and then set off down south to meet Kirsty, calling in at Aston Hall on the way. 
Till next week, 
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