MY DIFFICULT Presidential life continues! Last week I was a guest of sponsors Brewin Dolphin as the plans for this year’s Cheltenham Cricket Festival were unveiled.
The cricket fixtures are stunning with Gloucestershire playing two four-day games as well as two T20 Blast fixtures and one 50-over game in the Royal London One-Day Cup.
So much more is planned, however, with a T10 tournament set for Friday, July 25. Four teams are competing including a Brewin Dolphin XI, a Gloucestershire Cricket Old Boys' team captained by Mark Alleyne and a Gloucestershire Cricket Board team which will boast the best amateur talent across the county. They consider themselves favourites!
As well as the welcome return of Alleyne there will be a visit from Mike Procter who will be making an appearance at a stall set up by Sporting Memories Network who support people with dementia.
Have any Gloucestershire players in the last 50 years graced Cheltenham as successfully as Mark and Mike? Both loved the Festival and have played some of their best matches for the county there. My special memory is of Mike’s hat-trick against Yorkshire. All victims were LBW and were all Test batsmen.
Mark was an outstanding captain especially in one-day cricket. He was able to anticipate what was happening and act accordingly. His bowling changes could sometimes be puzzling but you soon discovered he would be right.
How valuable he would be in the T20 Blast which starts on Friday, May 16 at 5.30pm with a game against Somerset. Whatever happens I will enjoy meeting Somerset chairman Andy Nash. He and I were both at Wembley watching the ‘Don Rogers Final’. If there is no cricket he can join me in acting out the third Swindon goal. He, of course, can play the part of Bob Wilson.
Needless to say, I will be in demand at Bristol because so many Rovers’ fans will be asking the way to Forest Green. I may produce a map!
An attractive championship match against Kent follows on Sunday. Hopefully the injured Will Gidman and Purton pace bowler Craig Miles will be fit for that one. I anticipate it will be a little longer before wicket keeper Gareth Roderick is ready.
Cirencester CC take all the plaudits this week having secured a second thumping win in the county league. Frampton-on-Severn were defeated by 140 runs. I expect each Cirencester run was enthusiastically recorded by young Oliver Wood, son of cricket director Tony. Oliver went on a league-organised scorers' course in the winter and I can assure you it shows! Nothing escapes the notice of this alert young man.
Some cricket news may be escaping all of us. The Sports Editor tells me that very few clubs are sending in match reports. Lively, interesting cricket is played each week throughout the Cotswolds. Let us hear about it, please.
I want to hear no more of Greg Dyke’s plan to reorganise English football. It would destroy the pyramid which gives every club a chance to reach the top. The Conference Premier will be wrecked if this goes through. Watching Conference football closely I have been struck by the number of people who give time and money to keep their local clubs going. The pyramid gives everyone a chance to hope and dream. One club that played in the same league as Bibury now do, are very close to breaking into the Football League. Dyke’s plan would destroy chances of fairy tales like that happening.
If Premier League teams want competitions for their B teams set up something free standing – leave the rest of us alone.
Sitting on the committee that produced this presumptuous and arrogant plan was the Chairman of the Gloucestershire FA Roger Burden. He should be ashamed. His position must be one he has achieved by election or nomination, so there is an easy answer as to his future.
I have received a charming invitation from the go-ahead Fairford CC. On May 22 they are staging a competition for 10 local junior schools and have asked me to present the awards. Nothing will give me greater pleasure. It is part of the admirable ‘Chance to Shine’ scheme that gives state schools wonderful opportunities. Well done, Fairford for being the focal point of such a scheme.