Aaaah, village cricket matches. Bucolic, rustic, picturesque and potentially just a little bit dark; it’s interesting how many cosy murder mysteries feature a body found in the bluebell woods beyond long-off while the lord of the manor (or the local rock star) ekes out a dogged innings with the stable lad. And naturally, no Test Match can hold a candle to the real thing: the English village cricket game on a green, untouched by modern living.
Play Cricket The National Village Cup celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and gets under way on Sunday 22 April with the Preliminary Round of 286 villages. Play Cricket will give you a flavour of what to expect, including stats for such crucial info as Most Catches and Most Stumpings.
The Cricketer If you’re inspired by the feats of last year’s winners, Woodhouses Cricket Club in Cheshire, trawl a bit more and you can find a village near you, whether it’s in Gloucestershire, Yorkshire or Cumbria, that will be delighted to accept the services of your not-as-youthful-as-it was but still cruelly deceptive slow left arm. Still on the topic of the National Village Cup, thwack-by-thwack coverage can be found at The Cricketer.
Shoreham Cricket Club Not a village dweller? For jaded Londoners who fancy a break from the mean streets, Shoreham Cricket Club in the glorious Darenth Valley in Kent is accessible by motor and offers all you would expect of a stage set for Midsomer Murders, including creaking windmill in the background and (no doubt warm) beer from a timbered pub.
Rottingdean Cricket Club Rottingdean Cricket Club conjures up a little corner of Blighty untouched by time, ornamented by suitably English details, ancient oak trees and venerable churches. Don’t be fooled, though: they are among the high rollers of the village cricket world, and losing finalists in the National Village Cup last year at Lord’s Cricket Ground.
Village Cricket Club Or you can give up all pretence of rusticity and follow the delightful Village Cricket Club, which is actually based in north-east London, plays most of its fixtures in central parts of the Smoke, and cites enthusiasm for the game as its only selection criterion. Even if cricket doesn’t bowl you over, it’s fun to read about the sometimes less than glorious campaigns of this team of “singularly talentless but enthusiastic cricketers who wanted to continue their pastime beyond the end of their university days”.