Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Cricketing news from Old Buckenham

About our cricket
Tom Walshe has written this piece for the blog and the village newsletter about the current cricketing situation:
It was a barren month of May at the Horry Panks Cricket Ground in the peaceful wooded setting of Old Buckenham Hall. After Coronavirus stopped play, not much stirred other than furtive muntjac grazing and barking among the trees. 

Horry’s 62nd year tending the celebrated wicket has still found him at the ground most days, keeping things shipshape despite there being no cricket in prospect. 
The lack of action has been a great pity and a source of concern for the usually thriving Cricket Club. In a normal season over 90% of its income is generated between April and August from match play. And the sterling effort that has seen youth cricket in particular flourish in recent seasons has been on frustrating hold.
To rub salt in, the sun beamed down like seldom before in May and the pitch shimmered and shone like a mirage in a cricketing desert.
The month of May has often been significant for cricket at Old Buckenham. Something similar to this year’s malaise occurred over a century ago. If history is an indicator, however, cricket should come back with new vigour when the pandemic relents.
In May 1915, the war in Europe posed a greater mortal threat than Covid-19 does today. Many cricketers who played at Old Buckenham in the previous summer found themselves on a very different field by the end of 1914. And for some the battles that followed exacted a terrible toll – as indeed they did for so many young men whose home ground was the village of Old Buckenham.
Groundsman Porter, who skillfully tended the cricket square in similar fashion to Horry Panks today, was among those who answered Kitchener’s call and found himself entrenched in France with the shells flying. He came back to Old Buckenham minus part of a leg, but at least he survived.
Porter was back in charge of the pitch when, in May 1919, cricket returned to Old Buckenham with something of a fanfare. The first international first-class match played in England after the Great War took place at the Hall ground.
Lionel Robinson, the Australian bigwig who brought cricket to the village on a grand scale, got together a group of English and South African players to play Australian Imperial Forces, a team made up of Aussie servicemen who had fought with the Allies in Europe. It was a fitting fixture, as Robinson provided accommodation at Old Buckenham Hall to many colonial soldiers in need of convalescence from wartime injury and trauma.
Then in May 1921, of course, the Australians were back at Old Buckenham in even more impressive guise. The full international team played the second match of their tour at Robinson’s handsome ground against a strong English XI which included one of the game’s all-time greats, Jack Hobbs.
More about that to follow in a future article. 
In the meantime, the present-day cricketers face an impatient wait for the 2020 season to get under way. Let’s hope the war against Coronavirus, unlike the conflict of 1914, is truly over before Christmas!
*While no matches are yet in prospect, youth coaching will resume this Saturday 13 June from 9am to 11am in groups of six per coach and subject to Government and ECB guidelines. See the Club’s Facebook page @OldBucks.Cricket for more details.

No comments: