“A 14-year-old boy has just scored 50 for the Second XI. In eight years' time I want him to be having tea and cakes with the Queen.”
John Bracewell has set his sights high but that visit to Buckingham Palace is more than just a dream .
Bracewell aims to win the county championship which would delight all of Gloucestershire and he linked his aim with praise for young Jordan Garrett, while reminding us that Tom Shrewsbury and Miles Holland had played for England U19s during the winter, and that Kieran Smith, from Stroud, represented the U17s.
John’s remarks symbolised a buoyant platform performance at the county club’s AGM. Not all members shared the optimism. “What have I got out of the redevelopment?” asked one member. “There is no cover and no parking.”
Parking, of course, is improving weekly but the answer to his question is simple. He has the pleasure of being a member of a lively, evolving county cricket club, one with the facilities to attract players not lose them.
Big clubs will always come shopping but now they may go away empty-handed if everyone works to make the new ground pay. That is what everyone concerned about the county club must do. The bottom line is we must pay our players the going rate.
Bill Griffin, from the Cirencester region, topped the poll for election to the executive board, but well known member ‘Lydney Bob’ Howson was one vote short. However ,in defeat Bob has succeeded. He has shown everyone in the membership that there is a genuine opportunity to achieve a board seat.
Mike James of South Cerney was elected a vice-president of the county club. Mike has served the club in so many ways, being one of the mainstays of the Cirencester region and also helping other regions with fund-raising and social events. He also happens to be the father of quiz master extraordinaire Phil.
More good news from the AGM was a five-year agreement with Cheltenham College. The festival is safer than ever.
Unfortunately, we have yet to secure a championship victory. Starting the season without three key players – Roderick, Howell and Miles – the team have yet to play the consistent cricket that wins four-day games.
Newcomer Will Tavare has been a revelation with two centuries in three matches and Ian Saxelby is back in the team. The problem is that the support bowling lacks penetration and accuracy. The absence of strike bowler Craig Miles who can bring both to the table is galling, a fact made worse by his back niggle having been sustained while on the England development programme.
One final niggle. I am writing this on a sunny Bank Holiday weekend and our team are not playing, nor are Hampshire, our opponents three weeks ago. Poor fixture making, ECB. Why is the game not being played now?
I spent Saturday afternoon in the Cirencester Park sunshine, watching the town club defeat Birdlip. This may be Cirencester’s year, the team looks strong and confident. One word of advice for the batsmen; too many were content to amble singles to deep-set Birdlip fielders. Sharper running could have brought extra runs and put pressure on the fielding side. It will not always be so easy, Cirencester.
Birdlip must have yearned for a hostile, accurate trio such as Griffin*, Messenger and Armstrong, their best bowler being Guy Partridge, the latest holder of a respected Birdlip name.
My welcome was as warm as the weather and a visit to the picturesque ground is wholly recommended. While there, go into the pavilion which is both ancient and modern. The many photographs within are a testament to the timeless charm of the greatest of games.
The winter games are coming to an end, but not without congratulations to Cirencester Rugby Club. A marvellous ‘Sevens’ tournament was held on Sunday, the County Combination Cup has been won and the chivalrous action of the youngsters on tour (WGS, May 1) showed sport to be anything but selfish and self-centred. Club president Bob Spackman should be rightly pleased.
The more senior readers may remember Bob as a full back for Cirencester Grammar School in the early rugby days. I was sulking because soccer had been discontinued. Bob wasn’t and gave some spirited performances.
There are to be many changes to the playing staff at Forest Green and rightly so. To put it bluntly too many players became used to failing. Manager Pennock tells me he is going to concentrate on strength, fitness and organisation during pre-season. Quite right too, as these were three areas where the team was found wanting last season. These were the qualities that brought the league title to Cirencester and earned the players a holiday in Magaluf. Having been there myself I can imagine both their exploits and enjoyment.
*The Griffin mentioned bowling for Birdlip is the same Bill Griffin now on the board of GCCC, where he is chairman of Ground Development and also fund-raising. Residing in Duntisbourne Leer, Bill is well-known in county cricketing circles as a bowler, instructor of umpires and now an important figure in our county club’s management.