Another day, another Yorkshire cricket story, but this time it has nothing to do with the events at Headingley and everything to do with a very different kind of dark cloud.
Of the three storms that hit the UK last week – Dudley, Eunice and Franklin – Franklin caused the most damage to clubs, due to the huge volume of rain that fell, especially in the north of the country. , specifically in Yorkshire. Early victims of Yorkshire clubs include Bradford & Bingley, Ilkley CC, Olicanian, Horbury Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Bridgeholme and Greetland.
Horbury Bridge is entirely under water, flooding on Sunday evening. Club chairman Danny Terry discovered it around midnight when the owner of the pub which is around the corner from the cricket ground phoned him to say the River Calder had overshot the bank and was flowing over the ground.
“It looks like a reservoir right now,” he says, “a meter of water all over the playing surface. lots of money at the end of each season to prepare the place for the next season, do the prep work, and now all that work and money has been paid off When the flood waters recede, we will have to consider a plan recovery that will cost a considerable amount of money.We are particularly concerned about invasive plants, such as moss, that accompany flooding.
“I’ve been involved with the club for over 15 years and it’s only been in the last five years that the playing surface has been under water – this year and last year.”
Last year’s flooding happened around the same time, but the club started the season on the button thanks to the Wakefield Metropolitan District Council pumping out the water. Terry hopes the council will help them again.
“We’re not allowed to pump water from the field ourselves and if we just have to wait for the sun to shine, that’s where the risk is, if it doesn’t recede far enough for us to start the season in mid-April.”
But while the clubhouse at Horbury Bridge is safe as it is located on slightly higher ground, things are different at Ilkley, near the River Wharfe. Henry Wilson, the first team captain, is on the ground alongside Look North, who is filming the damage.
“Obviously with the weather we had on Sunday we were nervous,” he says, “with the rise of the River Wharfe. We have been flooded four times in the past six years. Last year, after the flood, we built a perimeter wall around the clubhouse in the hope that it would keep water out in the future. Unfortunately, you don’t know if it worked until you had another flood, and the water came through the wall and through the sewers. There’s probably three or four feet of water in the clubhouse: in the carpets, on the walls, in the refrigerators. The carpets will have to be picked up and replaced.
“We are insured. We are hopeful. Most of the water drained off the ground, leaving only large puddles. The ground needs to be cleared of debris and leaves and then hopefully nature will take its course. “
“Like many sports clubs we rely on a team of volunteer volunteers, we are very lucky to have this at Ilkley. So, as sad as it is, as heartbreaking as it may be, we will come together and put the work in place.
Edenfield in Lancashire and Hadleigh in Suffolk are also casualties and all clubs near the swollen Severn are at risk. Worcestershire CCC is under water again, 4.5 meters on Monday with levels expected to peak on Wednesday. After so many previous floods – nine in the past two winters – the club had not been flooded this off-season and the pitch looked in perfect condition. Although no player cars were swept out of the parking lot this time around – everyone learned their lesson by now once the flood warnings were announced – it is currently impossible to enter the pavilion. Kidderminster, Worcestershire’s reserve ground, will be on high alert, with that first HQ game against Sussex less than nine weeks away.
The England and Wales Cricket Board have been contacted by dozens of clubs who have been hit by floods and storms – some unable to afford insurance after repeated flooding – and their flood advice are now on the homepage of their website.
It is the eighth major flood to hit cricket in England and Wales since 2007. The most devastating storms were Desmond and Eva in 2015-16 which affected 58 clubs and resulted in the payment of 3 million pounds by the ECB. Even last year, 38 clubs applied for support from the ECB’s emergency pot. Further funding is available through the County Grants Fund, which can help clubs become more resilient to floods (as well as drought and provide assistance with energy conservation and water management)
Although it is difficult to link the frequency or intensity of storms to the climate crisis, the number of extreme weather events has increased and will continue to do so. As Dr Ella Gilbert from the University of Reading told BBC News: “We don’t know if we’ll see more storms in the future as the climate warms, but what we do know is is that climate change increases the impact of these types of storms, especially when we get so many so close together…so they add up to be greater than the sum of their parts.
Cricket is warned. Again.