Club Cricket Conference

Sunday, 17th December 2017

Club cricket and ECB have ever more in common

Charles Randall

1 December 2017


The ever-closer union between recreational cricket and the ECB - as the phrase goes in this Brexit era - is still growing ever closer, judging by news announced at the barn-storming, packed annual CCC lunch at Lord's on 27 November.

Robbie Book, the Club Cricket Conference chairman, disclosed that the National Cricket Conference would become involved in disciplinary panel services in club leagues nationwide, and help encourage competitive youth cricket in the summer holiday period.

He added that the Club Cricket Conference, through their development manager, Gulfraz Riaz, would continue to help the National Asian Cricket Council and the African Caribbean Cricket Association to achieve mainstream recognition for their many ethnic leagues.

Book disclosed a new link with the Government. "We are engaged with the Home Office in preparing a pilot programme," he said, "using cricket as a means of delivering character and life skills education that will support the integration of the disenfranchised young into mainstream society."

The Conference's defibrillator scheme,  through The Club Cricket Charity, took off this year, with the ECB announcing their £100,000 donation. A total of 28 representative games were arranged in the summer.

"So you will see," Book reminded the 450-strong lunch audience, "we are definitely not just fixtures and this lunch. After 102 years we have evolved and are acting on your behalf for the furtherance of amateur cricket both in our own region and on a national basis."

Just to underline the strides that have been made, two more youth spin scholarship results were announced. The winners were Misem Zaidi, the Highgate CC leg-spinner, and Luke Chapman, the Potters Bar CC off-spinner.

The Spin Scholarship is sponsored by Southall Travel, so Zaidi and Chapman will be spending 10 days at the Global Cricket School, Mumbai, under the supervision of managing director Sachin Bajaj in February or March. Selection was tough as more than 150 applications had to be whittled down to 40 by the assessors Min Patel and Jigar Naik for the actual trials at the Leicestershire County Ground on September 17. The CCC would like to thank Sachin Bajaj, Jaymin Borkhatria of Southall Travel, and Wasim Khan, the Leicestershire chief executive, for their assistance in this worthwhile project.

The event was once again hosted by Roger Dakin, and the room gave a standing ovation to Ivor Chaplin, 80, of Brentham CC, who this summer completed 40 years of scoring first team matches at the Middlesex club without missing a single game. That's right... every match, 2,017 in succession including 765 in the Middlesex League. This excludes the three earlier years of games he covered for the second team.

Never a player himself, with line-dancing as his active hobby,  Ivor became a permanent feature in the Brentham scorebox recording the feats of many fine players. One day a 13-year old boy scored with him for Stanmore, and during conversation Ivor asked what he wanted to do when he grew up. "I want to play for England," came the reply, and  Angus Fraser did just that.

The story of Ivor Chaplin and the spin scholarships are two reasons why the CCC lunch has become a compelling occasion for the club community, renewing hundreds of old acquaintances on the day.  The afternoon featured Geoff Boycott, Henry Blofeld, David Lloyd, Bob Willis and multitude of politicians flitting in and out of the mouth of Kevin Connelly, the amazing impressionist and a familiar face at Middlesbrough CC.

Connelly and the former Kent and England cricketer Chris Cowdrey excelled as the main speakers. The auction's main prize of four hours for a party of 12 on the Queen's royal row barge Gloriana went for £7,000. The whole luncheon occasion raised many thousands of pounds.