Lord’s beckons more villages

THE decision by the organisers of the Npower National Village Cup to refuse entries using professional coaches or players within the club seems to have encouraged more teams to enter, though Troon — a leading name in Cornwall — have returned.

Troon won the first two village cups in 1972 and 1973, again in 1976 and were losing finalists in 1983, but for many years it was apparent that the competition was not really intended for this sort of club. The Cornish village was the hub of high grade cricket for many miles around, and their ECB premier league status eventually disqualified them from entering along with a number of other similar clubs.

Before this season the Wisden Cricketer magazine reported that more than 50 new and returning village teams were joining hundreds of other clubs for the 39th season of the competition, which started on April 25. Troon became eligible again after their relegation from the Cornish Premier League and they decided to re-enter after narrowly missing a quick return last season.

The current club coach Chris Rowe was 12th man in the 1983 final, and now his youthful twin sons, Tom and James, are two talented players hoping to break into the first team. Troon’s first game back in the competition will be at home to South Petherwin on Sunday May 23.

Wisden Cricketer editor John Stern said it was great to see a club like Troon back in the competition. “Along with clubs like St Fagans,” he said, “they helped to bring the competition to national attention back in the 1970s and it is their legacy which continues to make the cup such a popular attraction for recreational cricketers across the country.”

While Troon in a less successful era for them are beyond reproach, this was a surprising comment from Stern because it was probably the presence of so many powerful clubs that happened to be located in sparsely populated areas that rendered the competition inaccessible for so many genuine villages. Recent action to keep major clubs and ‘professionalism’ at bay probably saved the competition. It certainly kept the romantic concept of ‘village cricket’ alive.

The final is scheduled for Lord’s on Sunday Sept 12. Among the new names for 2010 are Snainton, from North Yorkshire, Cleator, from Cumbria, Hammerwich, from Staffordshire, Leek Wooton, from Warwickshire and Lewdown, from Devon.

Npower have been excellent sponsors of cricket. They currently back all Test match series in England, women’s Test cricket and the Twenty20 Cup.


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