Essex began their County Championship in farcical circumstances as not a single ball was bowled at Headingley despite minimal rainfall during the match versus Yorkshire.
Umpires Ian Gould and Richard Illingworth confirmed a first ever abandonment of a four-day match at the famous Leeds venue before the scheduled start time of 11am on the final morning. The last full abandonment of a competitive first-class fixture at the ground was back in 1967 against Leicestershire.
Yorkshire argued that unforeseen circumstances – namely prolonged wet weather earlier this month followed by fog and unseasonably low temperatures – left the outfield at a point of saturation from which it was unable to recover despite only one significant shower on Sunday during the scheduled playing hours.
Essex coach Anthony McGrath, a former Yorkshire captain, was left frustrated after washout
The match’s cricket liaison officer Stuart Cummings was still compiling his report to the ECB on Monday evening after investigating the circumstances that led to the complete washout.
Had they anticipated such difficulties in getting it dry, one option might have been to ask their opponents to switch this match and the return fixture at Chelmsford next month. However, such a move, Yorkshire argued would have been unprecedented. To increase preparation time for Essex’s visit, they even cancelled last week’s match against Leeds-Bradford University.
But Essex coach Anthony McGrath, a former Yorkshire captain, was left frustrated by the lack of mopping up attempted on the final day, saying: ‘We’d have at least liked to see some work going on out there. It was almost conceding that we weren’t going to play without doing anything. Given we’ve had an hour’s rain in four days and we’ve not had a ball bowled, it’s very disappointing.’
Not a single ball was bowled at Headingley despite minimal rainfall in Yorkshire
Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon claimed fears of drawing water back up to the surface and turning the outfield into a mud bath had discouraged ground staff from employing the water-hog machinery, adding: ‘We genuinely hoped every morning that we could play and the frustration has been that other than on Sunday afternoon there’s not been any rain.’
Nine years ago, shortly after the new £600,000 drainage system was installed, a one-day international between England and West Indies was abandoned without a ball bowled despite the full house being bathed in sunshine.
Jake Ball bowling for Nottinghamshire
This latest episode saw the worst effected areas in front of the Football Stand end, which is currently under re-construction, but according to club officials the ongoing work was not a cause of the issue and the drainage had been fully functional.
It left both teams with five points and the hosts hoping for a change in climate ahead of Friday’s visit of Nottinghamshire.
Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale said: ‘Someone told me it’s going to be warmer than Ibiza this week! If that comes, we’ll be fine.’
Meanwhile, Nottinghamshire began life back in Division One with an extraordinary six-wicket victory on the other side of the Pennines, claiming all 10 second-innings Lancashire wickets for just 24 runs.
Resuming on 58 for two at Old Trafford, Lancashire were dismissed for just 73 on the fourth morning and to add to the ball-dominated drama Nottinghamshire then lost four batsmen in completing their nominal 10-run chase.