Update on preparations for the new season
With only just over a couple of months until the new season gets underway, now seems a good time to update everyone on news from the club and plans for the upcoming spring and summer.
Overseas player for 2022
First, we’re delighted to announce that, after a gap of 2 years because of the pandemic, we will once again have an overseas player joining us in 2022. Ian Souness is a talented young slow left arm bowler from the South Island of New Zealand, and is a really exciting prospect. He plays in the same league as our last overseas player, Angus Hamilton, who has already been briefing him on what to expect at Blackheath. Aside from greatly strengthening our bowling attack, Ian will also be helping out with our juniors and with our women’s section.
Winter training for seniors and juniors
The men’s and women’s winter training programmes have been ongoing for over a month now – the men’s sessions have generally been very well attended, the women’s rather less so. Those who have not signed up for the full package are reminded that they should pay for individual sessions via the winter coaching page of the website.
From Sunday 27 February, the women’s sessions will be switching to the sports centre at Cranleigh School, where those who want to try out hardball as well as softball cricket this season will have the opportunity to give it a go. We hope to have a regular coach available for these sessions – further details to follow. These sessions will also be open to the older girls who will be playing hardball cricket in the summer. Generally, the women are keen to attract new members so please contact Helen (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Sue (email@example.com) if you are interested.
Meanwhile the junior winter training programmes on Friday evenings at Longacre School, St Catherine’s School and Broadwater School have been well subscribed. Though some of these are sold out, there are still a few places available for the U8/U9 boys and U10/U11 boys’ sessions. Anyone who has not yet signed up for these but would like to do the remaining sessions after half term can now do so at a pro rata rate on the winter coaching page of the website.
Over half term, there is additional small group coaching being run by the Matchfit coaches at Charterhouse for all squads doing hardball cricket. These sessions are mostly now sold out but a few places are still available: see Charterhouse Small Group Sessions. There are also still tickets available for the half-term camp running between Monday 14 February and Wednesday 15 February at Longacre School for the younger age groups: see Longacre Half Term Camp for details.
Improvements at Grafham and Blackheath
Although the extensive work to the pavilion at Grafham was of course completed last year, poor drainage on one side of the outfield has been an ongoing issue for a long time. A major working party tackled this issue in December, laying a network of land drains as well as a new electricity cable to the pavilion to upgrade our supply: see main picture above. Many thanks to all those who helped out with this, especially Colin Parrott and Terry Brockman who planned and supervised the works. We had hoped that 2 new turf pitches would also be laid at Grafham before the start of the season, however this has now been postponed until the autumn.
Improvements are also being made to the artificial nets at Blackheath, as the bounce has become unreliable. We will initially be laying new batting mats in one of the 3 nets before taking a final decision on options for the other two nets over the next few weeks. There will also be further working parties at both Blackheath and Grafham before the start of the season – details to follow.
Match teas and catering
The I’Anson League has decided that clubs will not be expected to provide teas for league matches in 2022. However, the committee is keen that the tradition of match teas should not be lost altogether and the plan for the coming season is that on Saturdays we will offer a cup of tea and a slice of cake to players from both teams, whether or not this gesture is reciprocated when we visit the opposition. On Sundays (and in cricket week), we plan to reinstate a more substantial match tea.
As we did in 2021, we intend to provide a meal at the club every Saturday evening after league matches during the season – we are working on catering options to improve what we are able to offer. We also plan to offer coffee and bacon rolls on Saturday and/or Sunday mornings when there are junior matches at Blackheath.
Used cricket kit appeal
At the start of the season we normally invite donations of used cricket pads, bats, gloves and helmets (especially junior kit that has been outgrown) to the club second hand shop. However, this year we’re inviting donations a little earlier than usual for 2 reasons.
First, there are a lot of younger members who will shortly be starting hardball cricket for the first time in winter training sessions, and it would be great to have more used kit for them either to borrow from the club or possibly buy (with the proceeds as usual going to the East Africa Character Development Trust) sooner rather than later. For this we are particularly interested in the smaller sizes, suitable for U9/U10 boys and U12 girls.
Second, we can readily find a home for any larger sizes of used kit, either with club members in the second hand shop or with one of the charities we support abroad. In addition to the EACDT, this year we are also looking to collect kit to donate to the Alsama Project – a cricket club for Syrian refugees in Beirut, which is being supported by one of our former members in Wonersh. Both are really deserving causes and will make good use of any kit donated.
If you have any suitable kit you would be willing to donate, please drop it off in the porch of my house (Winter Meadow, on the left on the track up to the Blackheath ground) and I will see that it gets to the right place.
Countdown to the start of the season
Men’s league fixtures are now on the website (the first matches are on Saturday 30 April), and there will be warm-up games on both the previous weekends. Not all the Sunday fixtures (men’s and women’s) are yet on the website and the junior fixtures have yet to be announced, but in the meantime here are a few key dates for the diary, with further details to follow:
Saturday 2 April: Quiz night in the pavilion
Week commencing 11 April: junior pre-season training sessions at Blackheath
Sunday 17 April: pre-season warm-up game v Leatherhead
Tuesday 19 April – Friday 22 April: first week of regular senior and junior training sessions at Blackheath and Grafham
Saturday 23 April: pre-season warm-up game v South Nutfield, followed by curry night in the pavilion
I’ll look forward to seeing everyone in just a few weeks …