Date Published 01 September 2015
Cricket was definitely my sport back home growing up in South Africa. Golf was a close second but my heart was taken by the sound of leather on willow as it ricocheted across the field. My batting averages were pretty good, in the 30s, and although I was a more prominent batsman than bowler my in swing medium pace bowling was still legendary, well, to me anyway!
Fast forward 20+ years and I have finally mustered up the courage to reunite with a bat. My local cricket club, Southborough, being the lucky recipient of my return to the sport has been a welcoming and friendly forum for Saturday afternoon matches. I always had an image of the quintessential English village cricket green with its local church bells chiming as the cucumber sandwiches were eaten. Save for the constant hum of the London Road traffic I have not been disappointed.
Having started out in the second team I have managed to push my way up to the firsts which is no mean feat on attendance alone. My ‘available' status on the on-line team sheet was often reluctantly reversed as my wife reminded me of the clash of christenings and family events. That and the office which is open on a Saturday – my IOUs to my wife for time off for good behaviour are soon to be cashed in I am sure!
After a recent hard fought match against Four Elms CC I was disappointed to hear from members of the executive that club numbers were dwindling. It made me wonder why local village cricket does not hold the same attraction today as it did back in the 1800s when the club began.
When the club formed it would have been at the very heart of the town, influencing the structure of the local community. Today's, the impact of globalisation and changing 21st century economic pressures coupled with the need to adhere to the game's national governing body and the pressure on clubs to raise commercial sponsorship has clearly had its impact.
As a local resident, business owner and now club member I cannot extol the virtues of the club enough. The junior teams give local youngsters the opportunity to increase in skill and develop an affinity with the sport. While the senior teams hold their own and also benefit the local pubs' revenues after matches! It is important to keep traditions alive in small communities such as ours, to unite the residents and to give a feeling of togetherness in this virtual world that we now live in.
Come and give it a go – what have you got to lose?