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Of Pitches and Pubs

In the Lodsworth Cricket Club notes in the December edition of Outlook, I reflected on the individual and team performance in the 2010 season. Now as the year draws to a close we begin to contemplate the 2011 fixture list. The nature of village cricket is that our list of opponents does not change much from year to year though occasionally we drop an opponent – for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the opposing team is unable to raise a Sunday XI as happened with Easebourne two years ago, sometimes the opposition, although a thoroughly likable group of fellows habitually turn up with only 7 players as was the case with the Brighton-based Zambuca Tigers. Occasionally we have dropped nearby villages because they do not play in the ‘spirit’ of village cricket. There is another village that we have considered dropping because their umpire is incredibly biased to the extent of being deaf and blind to slip catches. The opposite happens of course – many years ago we had an on-pitch altercation with West (or was it East) Harting and they refused to play us the following year.

But things have a habit of working out for the best and we have a built up a really excellent fixture list of about 23 matches between the end of April and the end of September, consisting of genuine village teams such as Ebernoe, Kirdford, Milland, Tillington, Tangmere and Fittleworth plus some good league teams such as Goodwood, Loxwood, Bosham, Storrington and West Chiltington. The icing on the cake is to play the Arundel Castle XI, The Parham Park XI and The Cricket Society. The quality of the fixture list is entirely due to our tireless Chairman and Fixture Secretary John King.

So what is the attraction of the teams we play other than the game itself. One has to be the setting in which we play? Ebernoe is an unusual ground with a road running across the pitch. Car drivers have to halt on the perimeter until the end of an over and a six is scored only if the ball clears the surrounding hedge. Parham Park is magnificent with the Elizabethan mansion, built in 1577, in the background and with deer alongside the lake. Bosham too play in the grounds of a country house and one recent game against Arundel Grasshoppers in the grounds of Arundel Castle was memorable.  Our own delightful recreation ground has an unusual feature in that it has a mature tree inside the boundary.  The village green at Lurgashall is also a superb venue, evocative of all that is best in village cricket with the Noah’s Ark Pub pub on the boundary

Indeed a nearby pub is essential for opponents of the LCC. We head for the Stag Inn at Balls Cross after the Ebernoe game, The Crown Inn serves a good pint after the Parham Park game, while the Horse Guards Inn at Tillington is the place to celebrate a victory (or drown our sorrows) after a hard-fought game against our nearest neighbours. The White Swan at Bosham and the The Foresters Arms at Kirdford are also good hostelries as is The Bader Arms at Tangmere with its memories of a wartime hero. Our own Hollist Arms is a place of real character where we hold our annual dinner and committee meetings although we mourn the loss of another good village pub and bastion of village cricket – The Lickfold Inn formerly run by LCC batsman James Hickey and his family. Its current owner has squandered the pub’s wonderful atmosphere.

What other aspects attract us to village cricket? Well there is the quality of teas provided. Each village appears to compete with its neighbours to provide a memorable tea. An Ebernoe tea is worth playing for, as is an Arundel Tea and the teas at Tillington are exemplary. None of course rival the scrumptious teas supplied by the good ladies of Lodsworth.

So as the New Year dawns the thoughts of the members of Lodsworth Cricket Club turn to a new cricket season with long summer days, warm sunshine and good fellowship on and off the field. If you care to join us – whether for the games, the teas the pitches or the pubs make a resolution to contact John King.

Bob Powell