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Swann senior, a smashed window and the septic tank

Posted in ECB ACO

My optimism that a new month would bring better weather was soon put to the test as the unrelenting rain caused the postponement of a game which would have resulted in a first ever visit to the excellent facilities at Oakham School whose alumni includes, amongst others, Stuart Broad and the Leicester Tigers and England back-row forward, Tom Croft.

The following day the rain, somehow, held off long enough for me to fulfill an appointment at Loughborough University, during which a somewhat bizarre incident slowly unfolded.

One of the home batsmen, during the first innings, hit an enormous six which sailed high over the sightscreen and smashed through the rear windscreen of a car parked well away from the ground.

Sometime later, in the middle of an over and whilst the ball was live during the second innings, a member of the University’s security staff marched onto the outfield and remonstrated with the poor culprit who was now fielding.

My colleague and I had no option but to call and signal 'dead ball' as a heated conversation took place in full view of the bemused fielders and batsmen. Eventually, our unwanted guest departed only to return a short while later although this time, at my request, he did wait until the end of the over.

This game gave me my first opportunity to admire The Graham Dilley Pavilion. Graham was, of course, the Director of Cricket at the University for 11 years and head coach to Loughborough UCCE, before his tragic, untimely death in October. His successor is Russell Cobb, the father of Leicestershire’s Josh.

A return visit to Oundle where, once again, the home team prevailed was quickly followed by an appointment to stand in the Group Round of the Everards Leicestershire Premier Division Twenty20 Cup at a new ground for me, Ashby Hastings.

Predictably, perhaps, only one of the three scheduled matches was completed and we all have to do it all over again later in the month. Included in the Market Harborough ranks was new recruit, Simon Renshaw, late of Kibworth and previously a professional with Hampshire for four years.

The inclement weather struck again when only 32 overs was possible in a BUCS match at Leicester University. However, there then followed a sequence of three appointments in as many days as the sun took precedence and the wet stuff stayed away.

The first of these was back at Loughborough for a match which featured no fewer than four players who were part of the England Women’s Academy squad in South Africa last month. One of these was a player I first noticed playing for Warwickshire U17s two years ago.

Records tumbled during my next match when Loughborough MCCU amassed 446 without loss against a game but outclassed Leeds Metropolitan Carnegie side who, nonetheless, fielded tigerishly for most of the innings.

Lauren Winfield and England’s Tammy Beaumont both scored 202* - has this ever been achieved previously in BUCS matches, I wonder? There was a stark contrast in batting styles between the two – one very strong on the leg side with plenty of wrist, scoring mainly square or backward of square, the other favouring booming drives played all along the ground in the arc between extra cover and mid-wicket. I have to say I felt rather sorry for the Loughborough number three who sat padded-up for 50 overs.

A first ever visit to the unique Barkby United ground followed, where six mature oak trees stand proudly in the outfield. The local rule is that these are totally ignored to the extent that it is possible to be out caught off a rebound from any of the trees.

During the tea interval I was delighted to see, and briefly speak to, a former business client, Jim, who suffered a near-fatal brain haemorrhage some seven years ago but has, seemingly, made a full recovery.

This was quickly followed by my first experience of the Leicestershire County Cup when, on a bitterly cold afternoon my local club, Market Harborough, proved much too strong for visiting Countesthorpe.

A splendid new pavilion was in evidence and when I got home after the game I found that I had been invited to the official opening. The afternoon will be remembered for the fact that, at the drinks interval during the first innings, my colleague and I were both served a cup of piping hot tea.

Forty-eight hours later it seemed that Leicestershire 60+ season would belatedly get off to a start, but it was not to be. Their scheduled trip to a splendid new ground in north Norfolk was postponed when, for health and safety reasons, the ground and surrounding area were sealed off after a new septic tank fractured and deposited its contents far and wide.

With the end of the month in sight, I was back at the home of Ashby Hastings for a re-run of the Twenty20 tournament disrupted by the weather earlier in the month. In gloriously hot weather the highlight of the day was a 54 ball unbeaten century by the host club’s overseas star which, however, was not enough to see them through to finals day.

There was an unfortunate incident during one of the matches when two fielders collided heavily and spiked each other. Happily they were both able to leave the field unaided after prolonged treatment.

Market Harborough, who are unbeaten in league and cup for more than two seasons, are clearly not suited to the shortest form of our wonderful game as they slumped to their ninth and tenth consecutive defeats and seemed happy to be going home early.

A busy month ended with appointments featuring both Leicestershire 50+ and 60+, the latter’s season finally getting underway after the Norfolk mishap. They both contrived to lose low scoring matches; the 60+ team were no match for their Northamptonshire counterparts, who included in their ranks the very competitive Ray Swann, father of Englands’s Graeme and Alec, late of Lancashire and Northants.

The 50+ side, whose top scorer was Samit Patel’s father, Ronnie, surprisingly came unstuck against Hunts 50+, who held their catches and their nerve.

How will June unfold, I wonder?

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