Headingley Diary: Of all the names to conjure with, we get 'North-East'

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The Independent Online

Yorkshire have arguably given English cricket more great players than any other county. Indeed, this is one of the few aspects of cricket that Yorkshiremen would not argue about.

Yorkshire have arguably given English cricket more great players than any other county. Indeed, this is one of the few aspects of cricket that Yorkshiremen would not argue about. In other places, the stands and enclosures around the ground are named after old heroes. So it is that Lord's for instance, pays homage to Compton, Edrich and Warner among others. The Oval remembers Bedser, Barrington and Laker. Gone, never forgotten. Not so Headingley. On the first day of the Second Test, a new seating area was opened. It rejoices under the romantic name of the North-East Stand. Further along is the Western Stand, which was once the Western Terrace, cricket's equivalent of the Shed End at Chelsea. This means there are no memorial enclosures to Rhodes or Hirst, Hutton or Trueman, Boycott or Illingworth. There is apparently a simple reason for this. If there was for example a Boycott Stand, half the population would refuse to sit in it. So, the North-East Stand it is. Not that it deserves much fuss. It is difficult to imagine that any cricketer would wish to have his name attached to it. The pleasantest thing that could be said is that it is serviceable. Headingley may be a good deal tidier than it was, but it is now a sea of bucket seats.

Bob's story

The North-East Stand was opened by a former Yorkshire hero whose flame burned briefly but brightly. Bob Appleyard played for only eight seasons. He began late and had his career interrupted by TB. He was a singular bowler, a master of flight and drift, who had a late dip. He was, more or less, a fast off-spinner, and his 708 first-class wickets cost a mere 15.48. It is also too frequently overlooked that he played a significant third fiddle on the Ashes tour of 1954-55 where Statham and Frank Tyson assumed the leading roles. But there is more, much more, to Appleyard. He is a resolute and resilient man, overcoming family tragedy which struck both before and after his cricket career. His life story is poignantly told in No Coward Soul by Stephen Chalke and Derek Hodgson (Fairfield Books, £16). It is the sort of book (and history) that, before publication, you might have wondered why anybody would bother, and on reading, why it took so long.

Stats just wrong

Bob Appleyard was interviewed on Test Match Special before play began on Thursday. It was revealed that - despite Headingley's reputation for being helpful to bowlers - he averaged 14.65 outside Yorkshire and 16.62 at home. "So you struggled in your own county?" asked the interviewer.

Sky under a cloud

There was more befuddling stuff on Sky, who are providing live coverage of this Test. This was nothing to do with the 11am start time, although all other Tests this season, shown on Channel 4, will begin at 10.30am, which is befuddling enough. When it was announced that poor Simon Jones had been ruled out on England's side, Ian Botham said that it would, at least, allow James Anderson the chance to return. For a minute or so, he and David Gower mused on Anderson. It was then replayed to them that Anderson had been sent home the day before because of a heel injury, and that Martin Saggers had been summoned from Kent as a replacement.

A picture is worth...

Outside the Headingley dressing-rooms are photographs of the respective teams and back-up staff. Many are out of date - Matthew Hoggard, for instance, still has cropped hair and looks like one of the Mitchell brothers in EastEnders. But they have been put up so that identities can be checked after hoaxer Karl Power stood around the dressing-room area two years ago in full cricketing kit for half an hour, and at the fall of a wicket wandered on to the pitch to bat.

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