Luke Seaborne celebrates the Yorkshire institution that sees cricket played outdoors into October in the Wharfedale village of Arthington, noting that this year saw it expand to other grounds.
Arthington Cricket Club’s 30th annual cricket festival drew to a disappointing close recently, as the cancellation of the final fixture meant that not a ball would be bowled in the second weekend of October.
Indeed, the poor weather conditions put pay to several fixtures in this year’s festival, which usually boasts some of the latest cricket played in Britain, meaning that only four of the eight scheduled matches could be played to completion.
Arthington club secretary, Jo Nash reckoned: “This has been the worst festival I can remember for weather, it’s by far the wettest.”
Nevertheless, the future of the festival at Arthington seems in little doubt.
For the first time in its 30-year history, with the exception of the opening fixture, the festival was played away from Arthington this year in a number of guest venues, whilst important work is carried out on Arthington’s square.
Three matches were played at East Keswick, including one abandonment and one match at Burton Salmon. Two further matches were also due to be played within the grounds of Harewood House before the weather had other ideas.
Arthington’s sides, comprised of a mixture of players from the regular season as well as the odd guest player from other clubs, managed to come away with three victories from the four matches played, with only Otley Hawks XI getting the better of them.
Cricket at Burton Salmon in October. 👍 pic.twitter.com/UcDZV1iEGc
— Cricket Yorkshire (@cricketyorks) October 5, 2019
Over 500 runs were scored in the first festival match at Arthington in September, with the home side’s Kamrosh Khan helping himself to an unbeaten century on the way to a fine victory against Romany CC.
However, the other matches that were played could not have been more different, with the highest total from the six innings a mere 133. Whether this level of economy can be attributed to the bowlers or the conditions is a matter still very much up for discussion.
As with every festival, the matches that were played drew a small crowd of interested onlookers, clearly unperturbed by either the changes of venue or the often-gloomy skies above, perhaps with the prospect of a hearty tea at the change of innings much on their minds.
Inevitably, Arthington committee members have already begun discussing the possibility of starting the festival earlier in seasons to come, overlapping the end of the league season slightly and thus finishing in early – as opposed to mid-October.
Whilst this is probably a sensible course of action to take, it may risk taking away some of the appeal from the event which has, in the past, attracted several star names such as James Middlebrook (Yorkshire) and Muhammad Azharullah (Northants) as well as a Sky Sports news team.
Only time will tell whether an earlier start will have any impact on the amount of festival cricket that gets played with much, as ever with this sport, being in the hands of the weather gods.
Arthington Cricket Club currently play their cricket in the Theakston Nidderdale and District Amateur Cricket League where their two teams compete in the third and seventh divisions respectively.
Having reached its latest impressive milestone, the Arthington Cricket Festival looks set to continue for many more years.
Normal service will be resumed next season with fixtures once again taking place on Arthington’s home pitch and if you are stuck for something to do an a late-September afternoon and happen to be in the area, I highly recommend paying a visit.
Thanks to Luke for this look at Arthington Cricket Festival and if you want to follow him on Twitter, he’s @lukeseaborne2.