Harrogate Cricket Club will be pulling out all the stops on June 21 when Yorkshire play their first match on the St George's Road ground for three years.

And a Yorkshire player is already certain to walk off with the man-of-the-match award in this NatWest Trophy third round tie because the county club's opponents are the Yorkshire Cricket Board XI, who are managed by former York captain Ian Dews.

The Board beat Huntingdonshire Cricket Board by five wickets at Godmanchester on May 16 to set up this unique in-house fixture.

Although Yorkshire decided at the end of the 1996 season to take cricket away from all of their outgrounds, apart from Scarborough, Harrogate officials have never given up fighting for them to return to St George's Road.

A resolution at Yorkshire's annual meeting in March sought to bring back county cricket to Harrogate and Sheffield and though the motion was defeated, Harrogate president Andrew Campbell impressed everyone with a graceful speech in which he stressed that his club's supporters were not a self-centred minority but had the interests of Yorkshire cricket at heart.

He said that for over a century Harrogate had been proud of their association with Yorkshire and that some superb games of cricket had been staged at the venue.

Campbell also gently made the point that he could not understand the argument of players who said they wanted to win but yet did not want to play at Harrogate.

Yorkshire's winning record, he said, was better at Harrogate than at Headingley.

The defeat of the outgrounds' resolution does not necessarily mean that Yorkshire will never return to Harrogate for a county match and they will no doubt be keeping a keen eye on the organisational skills at the forthcoming NatWest game.

Harrogate's problem, leading up to the annual meeting, was that in order to gain support they had to take on board those members in the south of the county who were fighting for Yorkshire to go back to Abbeydale Park at Sheffield - a ground which it is not easy to make out a case for revisiting.

In any event, Yorkshire were quite right in their original decision that they could no longer go on taking county cricket all over the county when the number of home Championship figures had been severely pruned and now stands at only eight in a season.

Last summer proved that county cricket at North Marine Road is a money-maker when the weather is good and Scarborough's financial guarantee with Yorkshire makes it obvious that two Championship games will continue to be played at the seaside resort.

That leaves only six games to allocate and with Headingley now about to be redeveloped as Yorkshire's multi-million pound headquarters it is obvious that sponsors and corporate entertainers will want the matches to be staged there.

Even so, it should still be possible to move one game away from Headingley, not least because the charm of playing in more rural settings is something which should not be allowed to disappear entirely from the county cricket scene.

It is a part of our heritage and should not be destroyed.

Yet the Harrogate club should also understand that Yorkshire must receive assurances of acceptable facilities for spectators and players if Championship cricket were to return.

That would involve the outlay of a great deal of money for only one match a season, but the days have gone when people put up with what they get.

Even the Press need better facilities than they have been used to at either Abbeydale or St George's Road.

Laptop computers have replaced pen and paper and a clean and comfortable working space is not asking too much.

Harrogate CC have always been a friendly club with far more parking space than Headingley will ever have and perhaps they deserve a championship game if they are up to it.