York­shire fear Head­in­g­ley de­lay could cost them Eng­land games

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

LON­DON:

York­shire chief ex­ec­u­tive Mark Arthur has voiced con­cerns that de­lays over the re­de­vel­op­ment of Head­in­g­ley could leave the county with­out in­ter­na­tional cricket for four years.

The head­quar­ters ground of English county cham­pi­ons York­shire, Head­in­g­ley al­ready faces stiff com­pe­ti­tion for in­ter­na­tional cricket from sev­eral other venues.

But un­like those ri­vals, Head­in­g­ley is home to two sports, with Su­per League side Leeds Rhi­nos play­ing on the ad­join­ing rugby league ground.

York­shire and Leeds share Head­in­g­ley’s main stand, which is due to un­dergo a £38 mil­lion ($47 mil­lion, 43 mil­lion eu­ros) up­grade.

This was due to be­gin in Jan­uary but Wed­nes­day saw the Rhi­nos an­nounce the work was be­ing de­layed due to “com­plex plan­ning mat­ters” re­lat­ing to the South Stand.

That should still mean that Leeds will be op­er­at­ing in a ca­pac­ity sta­dium next sea­son but the im­pact on York­shire could be far more se­vere.

Im­proved fa­cil­i­ties are a key part of York­shire’s bid when the 2020-2024 round of Eng­land fix­tures are al­lo­cated next year and Arthur fears any un­cer­tainty about Head­in­g­ley could see York­shire, the county of Eng­land stars Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, miss out com­pletely, as well as be­ing ig­nored for the 2019 50over World Cup in Eng­land.

“The 2020-2024 ma­jor matches will be al­lo­cated in the sum­mer of 2017, there­fore this de­lay could mean that Head­in­g­ley will no longer be con­sid­ered fit for Test match cricket-or to host any World Cup matches in 2019,” he said.

“Not only does this de­lay im­pact the club’s abil­ity to stage in­ter­na­tion­als, it would also have pro­found con­se­quences to both York­shire’s and Leeds Rhi­nos’ valu­able and long-stand­ing work within the wider com­mu­nity,” added Arthur, who has pre­vi­ously warned that, with­out im­proved fa­cil­i­ties and strong ticket sales, both is­sues for York­shire in re­cent years, Head­in­g­ley could “fall off the cliff face” of in­ter­na­tional cricket.

The county’s ex­ist­ing stag­ing agree­ment with the Eng­land and Wales Cricket Board guar­an­tees Head­in­g­ley one Test a year un­til 2019, when the ground will stage its first Ashes match since 2009.

Rhi­nos chief ex­ec­u­tive Gary Hether­ing­ton said: “We are des­per­ately dis­ap­pointed to be mak­ing this an­nounce­ment but re­main hope­ful that the scheme will go ahead as planned in the near fu­ture.” —AFP

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