A “natural vector of the disease”. A cricket ball has been described in many ways, generally by its colour. And it can often cause confusion to non-cricket enthusiasts for all the rubbing on trouser legs and application of saliva. But the Prime Minister’s interpretation this summer was certainly bemusing…
As many sports clubs searched for ways to bring their seasons to a natural conclusion, following the initial lockdown, cricket hadn’t even been afforded the opportunity to get going. Boris Johnson kept cricket firmly on the banned list in June as he believed the ball would be detrimental to the spread of the virus. When gyms first re-opened and other sports were re-started under strict measures, cricket continued to be overlooked. A cricket ball can be a terrifying object when hurled at you from 22 yards by a burly fast bowler. But it is doubtful even the Coronavirus could believe its association with the red leather. So despite initial plans for cricket to return in early June, teams across the county were again forced to wait, including local side Poole Town Cricket Club.
Memories of Dean Park
Acting Poole Town club captain, Joe Wilson, has been with the side since 2011, having moved down from The Wirral in 1998. He fondly remembers Dorset Cricket Club’s old ground, Dean Park. There, Hampshire used to play first-class cricket a few times a season. It was, “One of the greatest grounds you will ever play at. Absolutely beautiful,” and accompanied by a Grade II-listed pavilion.
Unfortunately, the pavilion was sold and now accommodates Dean Park Training. Having hosted cricket since 1865, it saw some of the game’s all time greats perform at the venue. The grandfather of cricket, WG Grace; West Indian legends, Malcolm Marshall and Gordon Greenidge; and former England captains David Gower and Graham Gooch among them. Joe fondly recalls representing Dorset at Dean Park, and echoes many local cricket followers in his dismay that the ground no longer exists. “It’s a really sad story”.
A Heritage in Nurturing Talent
After a two-year break from the game, Joe joined ‘Town’ in 2011 and was taken aback by the, “Really friendly environment with a professional set-up. Four senior teams and a talented group of young boys and girls, and some amazing coaches who have nurtured some top local talent”.
Those talents include Scott Currie, 19, who has gone on to play for England Under-19s in this year’s World Cup. He made five First Team appearances for Hampshire this summer, taking a wicket in his very first over! Boasting an effortless bowling action, Scott can comfortably reach speeds over 80mph, with all at Poole Town very excited by his prospects. However, Scott isn’t the only one from the Poole books currently playing at the top. Katie George “has also come through the Poole system,” and is making a name for herself with Kia Super League side, Western Storm. The all-rounder, who is in England’s squad for the current series with the West Indies, has seven international caps to her name and, at only 21, will surely be adding to that in seasons to come.
Poole Town are rightly very proud of their heritage in nurturing talent. However, getting some cricket in this summer was top of the agenda during the height of the pandemic. Although perturbed by the delay in starting, Joe said, “Communication from the Dorset Cricket League was exceptional, despite what was going on.”
Based at Poole Park, ‘Town’ are an established side in the local area, plying their trade in the Dorset Premier League. Hugely successful, they have resided in the top four league places for the past twenty years.
Poole Town Cricket Club: After Lockdown
When cricket was finally given the go-ahead, The Dorset Cricket League devised a new format. They moved away from the previous divisions with sides placed in six strong local leagues. Poole Town were to play Parley, Wimborne & Colehill, Christchurch, Bournemouth 2nds and Broadstone Cricket Club.
With their season finally up-and-running in August, Poole Town Cricket Club began with a home game against Parley. Despite such a small fixture list, they were able to blood a number of youngsters in the First Team. A standout performance from Sam Crisp, “a Poole boy through and through,” was a particular highlight. The teenager claimed five wickets in the opening day victory. Joe went on to lead Poole to three wins this summer, which meant they topped the East League Group. This meant a playoff final against Dorchester, last year’s League champions and the winners of the West Group. A closely-fought and thrilling game saw the Poole side lose by two wickets.
The games were slightly shorter to accommodate breaks every six overs for hand sanitisation and to disinfect the ball. With “no use of changing rooms, the Pavilion operated a one-way system and there was no match tea… which certainly took a bit of getting used to”. However, “all clubs followed procedures fantastically and, after a while, it became natural.”
If you are looking to play cricket or to follow a local side, check out Poole Town Cricket Club. Please visit their website or contact Joe Wilson for further information. For more local sport stories, click here. And you can also follow HQB Media on all our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.