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Battling the elements but pleased to be back in the middle

Posted in ECB ACO

The new season for me dawned on a bitterly cold and windy day during the first weekend in April, when I needed five layers to stave off the elements.

The square at Loughborough University was, to my amazement, very dry and the wicket played very well considering the recent appalling weather.

The visitors were Wisbech Grammar School and I soon recognised a familiar face – one of the school’s coaches is a regular member of the Wisbech Town side who compete in the Rutland & District Cricket League (R&DCL).

Despite the weather, it was just a great feeling to get out in the middle after a long, long winter.

The weather was arguably worse seven days later when I made the short hop to Kibworth where Lindum, of the Lincolnshire Premier League, were the visitors in a pre-season friendly in which the rain, sadly, had the last word.

A return to Loughborough followed for an interesting game between Loughborough Ladies, who included in their ranks Anya Shrubsole, who bowled so well for England during the recent World Cup in Sri Lanka, and Loughborough Grammar School whose master in charge of cricket is Martyn Gidley, who played a total of 104 First-Class matches both here and in South Africa between 1989 and 2004.

One of the Grammar School bowlers at my end was the son of an eminent heart surgeon at Glenfield Hospital in Leicester whose patients, over the years, have included my wife.

My first R&DCL appointment of the new season involved the long trek to Bourne, for a first visit in two seasons whilst, two days later, I found myself at Wellingborough School for the 1st XI’s annual fixture against XL Club, whose evolvement and ethos I have written about previously.

This appointment transported me back more than 50 years to the time when the school hosted a cricket week and Northants, typically, would play two three-day County Championship matches on a lovely ground with a traditional thatched roof pavilion. I remember cycling from my parent’s home in Northampton at every opportunity and sitting on the pavilion steps as batsmen came and went.

One of the XL players was sporting a Bankstown District sweater and cap and it transpired that the club is based in Western Sydney and is the former club of the formidable Waugh twins, Mark and Steve.

The school, thanks to a mature unbeaten half-century from their promising young opener, prevailed by two wickets with just five balls remaining, in an enjoyable game during which, for the most part, the sun shone.

The last Saturday of the month saw my first Everards Leicestershire County Cricket League (ELCCL) action with the short trip to Langtons CC. It was another cold, blustery afternoon with a hint of rain and I felt somewhat sorry for the host’s new overseas player, who had arrived in this country just 48 hours previously, having enjoyed temperatures of 42 degrees centigrade in Delhi.

Twenty four hours later and I was embarking on my seventh appointment of the season, a welcome improvement on April last year when I was only able to fulfil two appointments.

Looking ahead, I have a number of interesting appointments during May, including matches in the BUCS championship (men and ladies) and the Over-50s and Over-60s County Championship, as well as the Leicestershire County Cup – that is if the weather behaves itself.