Club Cricket Conference

Monday, 27th March 2017

CCC Annual Lunch continues to justify massive reputation

By Charles Randall

2 December 2016

Another riotously successful CCC Annual Lunch was attended by 570 cricket enthusiasts and their guests at Lord’s recently, continuing the “next 100 years” in style after the 2015 centenary. An interview with England cricketer Lydia Greenway, charity projects, three Spin Scholarship awards, a top class main speaker and a retrospective CCC cap for John Price, the former England fast bowler, perhaps summed up the organisation’s main aims and aspirations.

With a meeting at the nearby ECB offices about rationalising the recreational game due to take place the following day , it was perhaps appropriate that the story of an England woman cricketer should be told. Greenway, 31, was interviewed on stage about a career that started at Hayes CC in Kent.

In her early teens Greenway refused to be left out while her father Martin, mum Rita, brother Adam and sister Emma all played. Her debut in men’s cricket, at the age of 10, was certainly inauspicious because Hayes were bowled out for 39 by Etchinghill, a total boosted by by 21 extras.

Undeterred, Lydia progressed through the club and county age groups as a left-hand bat and ended up with 126 England one-day caps and 14 Tests. Her love of the game started in club cricket. As one of the finest fielders in the game, she was credited with 49 run-outs at international level as a natural athlete with tremendous ball sense. She later confided: “Early on my father used to hit tennis balls at me, and I had to catch them to survive.” In 2017 she is due to open the Lydia Greenway Academy at Hayes to coach girl cricketers up to the age of 18.

The CCC is dedicated primarily to increasing the number of players, but the representative side has remained an important focus, these days offering high quality representative games through the summer and on tour to those outside professional county set-ups. Past players include Price, who played in the CCC XI one-day victory over the Australians at Blackheath in 1961, one of only two defeats Richie Benaud’s men suffered that tour. Price, then an up-and-coming Wembley CC fast bowler, took no wickets on the day, but he made such rapid progress with Middlesex and then England that the CCC never got round to awarding him his CCC cap. The omission was rectified at the lunch this week when Charlie Puckett, on behalf of the CCC, announced the presentation, delivered by Matthew Fleming, the MCC president.

The three spin scholarship winners were honoured at the lunch. Anaesh Patel (Cardiff CC), Stephen Croft (Sheriff Hutton Bridge CC) and an Afghan left-armer Shan Ahmadzai (Luton Town & Indians CC) received their winner certificates, looking forward to a visit to the Global Cricket School in Mumbai in March or April 2017. This project was generously supported by Southall Travel, Leicestershire CCC, Global Cricket School, Cricket Deal Direct, All Out Cricket and Notts Sport .

Robbie Book, the CCC Chairman, announced the launch of the Wendy Grossmith Defibrillator Fund. The Grossmith family havd already paid for the first four machines to be provided to clubs as part of a nationwide campaign. Book said: “Our sister organisation, The Club Cricket Charity, together with our partners All Out Cricket, published a questionnaire asking clubs about their wants and needs and, perhaps surprisingly, 51 per cent of respondents to the health and safety questions - 11 per cent of the total respondents - chose a defibrillator as their most urgent need.”

Book announced that the Character Through Cricket scheme had started two pilot projects in Birmingham and West London under the direction of Simon Prodger, a CCC Board member.  Book said the idea - to teach coaches how to instil citizenship values into potentially radicalised youngsters - had worked well in Kenya over a two-year period. Supporting partners have been Sport For Life International, Unity of Faith Foundation and Aureus, directed by Nick Gandon, of Hoddesdon CC.

In 2016 the CCC finally saw the creation of the National Asian Cricket Council as a new voice in cricket after years of input from the CCC Development Manager, Gulfraz Riaz. The ECB’s new five-year strategy for the game acknowledged the Council and the National Cricket Conference in their document Cricket Unleashed.

This remarkable lunch remains a key fund-raiser for the CCC. Martin Bayfield, the former England and Lions rugby forward, was the main speaker, justifying his top billing. The event helps to ensure the CCC’s existence as an independent force for recreational cricket.

In the 1961 game the Australians were bowled out for 149. Seamer James Melville (Blackheath CC) took 6-46 on his home pitch at Rectory Field, and fellow opening bowler Price finished with 9-0-34-0. Melville was selected for some championship matches for Kent the following season.  The CCC knocked off the runs with a minute to spare, thanks to 71 by Phil Whitcombe (Brentwood CC), the former Oxford University and Worcestershire opener aged 32. The Australians seemed to have taken the game relatively lightly as wicketkeepers Wally Grout and Barry Jarman bowled seven overs between them.