Thanks to careful pitch preparation by local young farmers the annual winter cricket match between the villages of Appletreewick and Malham went ahead as scheduled.
Rarely is this event affected by adverse weather conditions and even though the outfield was covered in an eight inch deep blanket of snow the umpires had no hesitation in declaring the pitch perfectly playable.
In hindsight it would have been better if the toss had taken place on the 22 yards of cleared wicket rather than over the fresh snow, as the coin disappeared never to be seen again!
So as host club the Appletreewick team decided to bat first and amassed a creditable 57 runs. These were mainly sneaky singles pinched while the fielders fumbled for the ball.
Players fielding ‘in the deep’ had the added hinderance of being pelted with snowballs by partisan spectators. In accordance with Dales rules all members of the fielding side bowled one over each. Every new bowler and batsman was greeted by the 12th man, who encouraged them to take a wee dram for medicinal purposes.
With two overs remaining in the game the Malham batsmen realised that a win was within their grasp (just a run a ball required) so the match took on a new intensity.
With two balls remaining there was controversy over an umpiring decision and an unseemly barrage of snowballing took place.
Fortunately order was restored by the umpires and the experimental referral system. This system involved spectators pointing at a big not out sign carved into a snow drift.
Miraculously both teams finished with 57 runs and the match was declared a draw.
All adjourned to the New Inn for refreshments and analysis of the game, which drew few comparisons with Appletreewick’s tour of the sunny Algarve only three months earlier. This fierce, but friendly ,rivalry between the two cricket loving villages will be continued during the more conventional summer season.