Mark Doherty shares thoughts and match photos from a visit to Blubberhouses Cricket Club.
Saturday and a last-minute change of plans.
Cricket Yorkshire’s John Fuller was heading to Goldsborough for a top-of-the-table Theakston Nidderdale League Division One fixture and the Knaresborough Bed Race was taking place as well.
Anyone who knows the area understands that this is the one day of the year to avoid going in and around the town due to the huge crowds, lots of traffic and closed-off roads – that’s unless you are going to watch the spectacular parade of themed racing ‘beds’ and of course the actual race.
Having covered the bed race for the papers many times and actually taken part twice, I’m happy to give it a miss and make the most of the opportunity to enjoy covering local sport in and around the county.
So, taking a quick look at the fixtures, I decided to bring forward a planned trip to Blubberhouses Cricket Club. The first team were at home to Studley Royal Seconds in a mid-table Theakston Nidderdale Division Two clash.
Just like those YouTube videos you watch that contain paid product placements or reviews of products supplied by companies…I need to give you a disclaimer up front.
This is a ground that I absolutely love – but I’m not paid to say that.
I like the fact that you must know it is there to find it.
I like the secluded nature of the ground, the earth banks on one side, the River Washburn on the other, and trees densely planted around all sides to muffle the sound of traffic on the nearby Harrogate to Skipton Road.
Indeed, if the trees weren’t there, you would have a wonderful view of St. Andrew’s Church situated high up on the hill, on the opposite side of Skipton Road.
The True Gothic style church designed by Edward Buckton Lamb was built around 1850 by the Frankland family as a place of worship for the Estate workers.
I got dropped off at the ground as parking is usually quite difficult, and the narrow lane to the club is one to make you doubt that you’re in the right place as you progress down the dusty winding track.
Stepping out from the car, I could hear that the game had just got underway. Quickly getting my camera bags out of the boot, my wife and daughter walked with me down through the gateposts that lead around the pavilion to glimpse the ground from the elevated position before leaving me there.
Just as I remembered, a glorious sight in the bright sunshine.
Studley Royal had won the toss and had elected to bat first and they got off to a flier, seemingly scoring runs effortlessly in the first few overs.
With this being an intimate ground, some of the boundaries are less challenging to reach than others, so fielding teams tend to concentrate on protecting them.
If a ball goes over any of the boundaries, there are various special considerations that need to be taken into account when trying to retrieve it.
On one side of the ground is the steep embankment, at either end are formidably tall ferns, plants and nettles, and opposite the pavilion, there is the River Washburn.
In fact, the last time I was at the ground, they had to use a small net on a big pole to retrieve the ball from the river on several occasions…but it wasn’t needed this time.
The midday heat was intense at the centre of this natural bowl, but the trees on one side provided much-appreciated shade throughout the game.
Being able to hide away from the blistering sun was a blessing and I was grateful for not being a player and having to stand in the full glare.
Charles Scatchard, Cooper Grigg and Phil Newton put on around 30 each for the visitors to ensure the scorecard was ticking over quite nicely, but Kamran Khan was in top form for the home team picking up five wickets to disrupt the compilation of runs.
As the final wicket fell, Studley Royal had reached 145 all out in just under 32 overs. The quick start had given way to a struggle to add runs in the middle part of their innings, picking up slightly as it came to an end.
During the innings break, I chatted to a couple of the players and was very kindly offered some chocolate by one of the home team player’s son…all very relaxed and a wonderfully welcoming club.
I took a wander around the full perimeter to get an idea of additional spots where I could sit to capture images of the action from, retreating quickly to the shade as I realised just how hot it really was.
The teams took to the field once more and Blubberhouses started their innings fast, clearly in the mood to overhaul the visitor’s total as quickly as they could, and familiarity of the ground meant they were playing a range of shots to amass runs by either hitting boundaries or sending the ball to the furthest part while they ran one or two.
Kamran showed he was as handy with the bat as he was with the ball, reaching an unbeaten 32, but to be honest, each of his teammates got into double figures and kept the pressure on Studley Royal.
It became apparent quite quickly that the target of 145 looked a little on the low side to defend and so it proved as Bash Khan and Kamran Khan guided the home team to win by seven wickets in just 24 overs.
I grabbed a few additional general photos of the ground then packed the cameras away before leaving…but this time by a slightly different route.
Yorkshire Water have a permissible access pathway that follows along the River Washburn, just on the other side of the fence that runs around two sides of the ground. I headed out of the gate and along the small path, occasionally looking back to catch new views of the playing surface.
As the cricket club disappeared from sight, I negotiated the narrow path frequented by both locals walking their dogs and more serious backpackers, eventually climbing the set of steps up from this otherworldly experience and back to the reality of modern life, the main road and the car park sitting under St. Andrews Church at the end of Fewston Reservoir, in the Washburn Valley.
Another one of those lazy Saturday afternoons, divorced from the hustle and bustle of busy crowds in a beautiful part of Yorkshire and a club I would highly recommend you visit if you get the chance.
Thanks to Mark for his thoughts on the game and fantastic photos. You can see more of his work over at www.caughtlight.com. He’s also @caughtlight on Twitter.
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