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And so it begins...

Posted in ECB ACO

My season began on a typical early spring day in mid-March when I was delighted to accept an invitation to officiate in the East Midlands Regional Finals of the National Table Cricket Competition at Grace Road.

This version of our wonderful game was originally developed at Nottingham Trent University and the ECB launched the competitive version via their World Cup Table Cricket competition in 1999 along with the Youth Sport Trust. A year later, with help from The Lord's Taverners, the competition developed to become a yearly event.

The aim of the game is to provide young people, who have physical disabilities, with an opportunity to compete in a competitive game of cricket with an emphasis upon teamwork and sportsmanship, in a fun and enjoyable environment.

Teams from schools in Leicester, Rugby, Mansfield and Chesterfield battled it out with the winners going forward to Finals Day at Lords on 15th June. This was a most enjoyable day.

The season proper, so to speak, started on the weekend prior to the Easter Bank Holiday weekend - when did that last happen? - and has so far embraced five matches, in four different competitions, in three counties.

This mixed bag has included my first experience of Saturday league cricket, having made myself available, on an alternate week basis, for the Everards Leicestershire League.

I've already witnessed two centuries, a match-winning 91 and four five-wicket hauls.

Although the wickets, as I'm sure you can imagine, have been excellent with barely a ball misbehaving, the ball, if anything, has held sway over the bat.

It is evident, even at this early stage, that Finedon Dolben, who were promoted as champions to Division One of the Rutland & District Cricket League, could struggle to come to terms with the more competitive level whilst last season's champions, Peterborough Town, lost their opening game, albeit to Oundle Town who had such a great season in 2010.

I'm due to make my first foray into Norfolk within the next few days, followed by an appointment at Ratcliffe College, where I did referee a rugby match many moons ago, at the invitation of The Forty Club.

The Forty Club is, I understand, the second largest private cricket club in the world. It is also a wandering or nomadic club and thus does not own its own ground.

The aim of the club since 1936 has been 'to take cricket to the schools' by offering schools (both state and public) and youth team fixtures against experienced cricketers who will encourage the young cricketers to play the game to the highest standards of performance and behaviour and in the best spirit of the game.

The Forty Club currently plays some 130 fixtures a season throughout England, Scotland and Wales. Having been created for players of over 40 years of age and being the leading UK club created for that purpose, the Forty Club now, apparently, accepts membership from players of 35 and older.

The logo of the Forty Club is XL – Roman numerals for 40 - as well as the heart of the message that the club wishes to impart to young cricketers in the earlier seasons of their cricketing experience.

All in all, it has been a busy start to what promises to be an interesting, varied and enjoyable season. After all this wonderful weather, how disruptive will the rain be when it finally comes and will we be freezing in July?

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