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A famous clothes peg and two lost ties

Posted in ECB ACO

A tense ECB 50+ County Championship match greeted the start of June as Leicestershire prevailed off the penultimate ball against their Bedfordshire hosts whose scorer, I understand, has scored three Test matches.

I was then delighted to be one of the appointed officials at the inaugural Leicestershire Young Cricketers Festival at Grace Road. In glorious weather, four keenly contested Twenty20 matches were followed by a number of presentations in respect of the 2010 season.

It was a most successful and enjoyable day and I will be able to dine out on the fact that I probably used the same clothes peg as such illuminaries as Dickie Bird and the late David Shepherd.

Contrastingly, two days later I was the only appointed umpire in an incident-packed match which involved the awarding of penalty runs, the reporting of a team for a slow over-rate, the recalling of a batsman given out lbw when I immediately realised there had been two noises and my original decision was questionable, and a nasty facial injury to a batsman who was dispatched off to hospital - quite an afternoon.

The following day I made the long trek to March Town hoping for a somewhat quieter afternoon. The hosts, thanks to a belligerent eighth wicket stand of 70-plus reached 207 which proved too many for visiting Uppingham Town.

This was despite the efforts of a very talented 14 year old who played some lovely shots in an unbeaten 28 which followed a very tidy six over spell and two very well judged catches in the deep. It would appear that he could well follow in the footsteps of his older brother who has already played for Leicestershire seconds.

A trip to Loughborough followed for a BUCS Mens Championships Semi-Final and between the many showers it was the visitors Nottingham Trent University who prevailed despite the fact that, having lost the toss, they were obliged to bat first and could be said to be at a disadvantage. NTU's opponents in the final are, apparently, Oxford Brookes.

This game was actually played just outside Loughborough, at Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College (Welbeck DSFC). To quote from their website: "Welbeck DSFC educates students from all backgrounds to achieve their ambition to become an Officer in the Armed Services or the Civil Service". This was situated very close to Beaumanor Hall which is a Leicestershire County Council outdoor activity centre at which, some 20 years ago, I somehow managed to complete an army assault course.

An interesting-looking, but ultimately frustrating, weekend began with Narborough & Littlethorpe hanging on for a draw when entertaining Earl Shilton in an Everards Leicestershire County League fixture under ever-threatening skies.

The following day incessant rain washed out any hope of play in a Women's County Championship match for which some of the travelling Norfolk side had, apparently, left home before 7am.

Halstead was my next port of call as Leicestershire 60+ tasted defeat for the fourth time in seven matches against unbeaten Essex team that seemingly contained any number of Keiths, Kevins and Kens.

A change of appointment saw me standing, for the first time, at the extremely attractive and well-appointed Kibworth ground, which is no more than 15 minutes from where I live.

Despite the close proximity of the ground, I struggled to get there on time after putting petrol in my car and then realising I had no means to pay. A few hasty telephone calls resolved the problem and normal service was resumed.

In a rain affected match the hosts managed to hold out for a draw against a team who believe they can win the league. I have to say that I was extremely well looked after by the host club, with a welcoming cup of tea on arrival and a pint of bitter immediately after the game - I look forward to an early return.

A youthful Finedon Dolben, who are beginning to find their feet in Division 1 of the Rutland and District Cricket League following promotion, overcame the loss of their last seven wickets for just 28 runs to ease to victory over Uppingham Town, in a game in which fortunes ebbed and flowed.

North Lincolnshire beckoned when Leicestershire 50+ travelled to within a few miles of the North Sea and, in a game they could so easily have lost, triumphed by four runs off the last ball of an absorbing afternoon in which the threatened rain, thankfully, stayed away. This game followed a similar pattern to last year's which ended in a last ball tie.

An extremely busy month ended with a sequence of five appointments in a week, including four on consecutive days, incorporating a first ever visit to the Hinckley Town ground, which the club has recently bought back from Leicestershire CCC, a two minute stroll down the road to the home of Market Harborough for a county U14s game and a spin down the A5 into Hertfordshire, the 12th county I have had the pleasure of visiting so far this season.

A quick observation on that most important aspect of any game - tea. Long gone are the days when you were lucky to get a couple of hastily-put-together and often quite tasteless sandwiches, a slab of cake, a few crisps and, perhaps, a handful of peanuts.
Some teas these days are almost a work of art and the normal tea interval length does not do them justice. It's going to be very difficult to select the season's best tea in three month's time.

All in all, a great way to spend a early summer month, the only downside being the loss, somehow, of two of the cricketing ties I have gathered during my travels. I have an idea where they might be, but it's too late to do anything about it now. I wonder what July has in store?