Ed­i­tor’s let­ter

EDP Norfolk - - EDP NORFOLK MAGAZINE - DO­MINIC CAS­TLE, Ed­i­tor, EDP Nor­folk Mag­a­zine 01603 772758/07725 201153, do­minic.cas­[email protected]

It’s been 48 hours now since it hap­pened, as I write this. And I can still hear Sweet Caro­line on an end­less joy­ful re­peat loop in my brain. If you are won­der­ing what I’m on about, it isn’t that I have suf­fered a blow to the nog­gin and sud­denly be­come a mas­sive Neil Di­a­mond fan, but rather I’m still cel­e­brat­ing the astounding way that a bunch of English­men be­came cricket’s world cham­pi­ons.

If you watched it un­fold in all its jaw-drop­ping, heart-stop­ping melo­drama you’re prob­a­bly hear­ing the same tune. If you didn’t... well, we all march to a dif­fer­ent drum­mer.

I’ve al­ways loved the game since learn­ing it as a Nor­folk school­boy. One coach was Ken Tay­lor, of York­shire and Eng­land, but mostly York­shire.

I once did rather well bat­ting in a school match, or so I thought. “’Ow many did tha get, lad?” en­quired our Ken. “Sev­enty, sir!”

“If tha’d moved tha feet, tha’d have got ‘un­dred and sev­enty!” came the mo­ti­va­tional re­sponse.

Af­ter school I played in the base­ment of the Nor­folk league, with oc­ca­sional mo­ments of low com­edy. The first week­end I played for a new club on the coast I wore my old school whites; flan­nels re­ally. Ly­cra hadn’t made it into sportswear at that stage.

As I swooped to pick up a ball in the field there was a star­tling sound, akin to light ma­chine-gun fire, as the stitch­ing sur­ren­dered and my whites were con­verted into a rather airy pair of crick­et­ing chaps. Mor­ti­fy­ing for a rather shy 19-year-old and a rich vein of mickey-tak­ing for the

grown-ups who were, gen­uinely, in stitches.

I spent my hap­pi­est sum­mers with Shropham CC, a club in a lit­tle vil­lage near At­tle­bor­ough. We scuf­fled about in the low­est league of Nor­folk cricket, Di­vi­sion Six, though we did once get ideas above our sta­tion and won promotion to Di­vi­sion Five. We de­scended to our right­ful place next year, of course.

They were a lovely bunch of peo­ple, funny, good-na­tured, so­cial and kind. We came from a pot-pourri of back­grounds from com­pany MD to gar­dener but were all as equals at the club.

Most of the reg­u­lars are in the photo above from 1985. I can still name al­most all of them, hear their jokes and ex­cuses for fail­ing again with bat or ball, or drop­ping a catch. We trav­elled around the county to the smaller vil­lages, of­ten home to some of the pret­ti­est lit­tle grounds and the loveli­est teas.

I went back to Shropham a cou­ple of years ago on a sum­mer Satur­day, hop­ing that maybe there was a home match on and a fa­mil­iar face around. But the pitch, once lov­ingly tended, was gone, sub­sumed by long grass. The club folded a few years ago, I was told. No young­sters, you see.

It’s a fa­mil­iar story across the coun­try as gaudier pur­suits draw the at­ten­tion of the young. Maybe Eng­land’s World Cup win will help peo­ple fall in love with the game again and bring some youth into this joy­ous sport and fill Nor­folk’s fields on sun­lit week­end af­ter­noons.

My only ad­vice to any­one think­ing about tak­ing up cricket is; make sure there’s some Ly­cra in your trousers.

Shropham Cricket Club, sum­mer of 1985. Back row, far right if you’re won­der­ing...

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