I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with this round of County Championship fixtures, but there’s a ding-dong going on at North Marine Road, Scarborough. Yorkshire are facing Durham at the moment (today is day three of the four) in what was billed as a Championship shootout and, though it probably over-stated the case, winning it would give either team a hell of a leg-up towards lifting the trophy. Scarborough is a strange ground.
Growing up, I was taught about the clatter of wickets at North Marine Road and, though I’ve never been to the festival (August Bank Holiday every year, Same Time, Same Place), every time I really hear bails being rattled around, my mind drifts back to the names of those valiant Tykes who disappointed so often during my childhood – those hazy summer days of David Byas, Martyn Moxon and Ashley Metcalfe; the latter being the first opening partnership I remember.
As I’ve grown older, I’ve learned that isn’t true. North Marine Road is the home of runs. Its short boundaries and good pitch allow big totals to be amassed (step forward Mr Byas again) and runs are rarely in short supply.
Do the wickets still clatter, though?
The easiest way to test this, I thought, would be to look at the total runs per wicket over the course of the four days of the festival. I’ve gone back ten years, and only included the August Bank Holiday game, though Yorkshire have played at Scarborough a few times earlier in the season – July – and twice in September in 2008.
The thinking behind that was that the conditions in August should be pretty much the same – certainly in terms of wear and tear, even if the weather varies; there was still a few days lost to rain in and amongst (look for the bars that aren’t there for Days 1 and 2).
So that’s what I did. Ten years is probably too small a sample size to give a definitive answer, but what it does show is that there’s runs to be had on Days 3 and 4, even if perhaps they’re at the cost of a wicket; certainly the pitch doesn’t seem to degenerate to a massive extent.
I write this before Day Three, hoping that Yorkshire post a total that allows Durham to leave a target to aim at. A lot of Yorkshire games seem to end up this way recently and, playing on a ground like North Marine Road, scoring can happen so quickly that games can get away from you in the blink of an eye (a bit like Durham’s first innings in that respect).
If I get my wish, we may have a better sight of who will be lifting that trophy at the end of next month. I’ve got a horrible ‘momentum is with Durham’ feeling.