THE Church Times Cricket Cup competition is back — with a difference. Quite a few differences, in fact.
In a typical year, the clergy cricket season would be starting about now (readers will have noticed the rain in the past few days) — as it has 69 times since 1951. The pandemic meant that we had to cancel last year’s 70th-anniversary tournament completely, but we were determined to rescue something from the ashes (not the Ashes, obviously) this year.
The proposal is to invite all dioceses to put up teams for a six-a-side tournament, to be held on two or three dates in early July. The winners of each regional tournament would progress to a national final in early September.
Some points about six-a-side cricket:
- First, we’ve not played it either, but it is one of the newer forms of cricket that are currently being enjoyed. Instructions will be given, both in advance and on the day.
- Second, and most obvious: there are only six players in a team. This means that dioceses who have struggled in the past to raise a full team for the Church Times competition — including dioceses who have given up — can more easily pull together six willing players.
- Third: the more successful dioceses, who have a full squad to draw on, can put up two teams, or more, if wished.
- Fourth: although it still classifies as cricket, using the same equipment, there is less emphasis on physical strength. Games are shorter, the cricket pitch is smaller. This makes it an ideal game for people new to cricket, and in particular women clergy; plus everyone gets to bat and bowl.
- Finally, instead of a season of group games, quarter- and semi-finals, and for the top two teams only a September final, teams entering the competition need set aside only three dates: the date of their regional tournament in early July, a second date that same week in case of rain, and the date of the final in September, when several teams will come together instead of just two.
Dates and venues will be confirmed once we know which dioceses have entered. We expect there to be three or four regional tournaments, played at grounds with two or more pitches. Spectators will be welcome, subject to government restrictions. The competition is open to licensed Readers as well.
So far, the following dioceses have confirmed that they are putting up at least one team: Canterbury, Exeter, Guildford/St Albans, Hereford, Leicester, Lichfield (two teams), Lincoln, Manchester, Norwich/Ely, Rochester, Salisbury. Clergy cricketers in these dioceses are invited to contact the captains/secretaries listed in the online version of this story.
Clergy cricketers in dioceses not listed here: you are urged to put together a team. Feel free to contact any of the people listed below if you need advice about setting one up.
Bishops and senior clergy: please encourage your diocese to enter the competition: the benefits to the health and well-being of all the players are inestimable.
Signed up already:
firstname.lastname@example.org; 07921 250901
Exeter (two teams)
email@example.com; 01548 830071
firstname.lastname@example.org; 07462 893457
email@example.com; 07764 538593
Lichfield (two teams)
firstname.lastname@example.org; 07986 375409
email@example.com; 01673 565244
firstname.lastname@example.org; 0161 7077652
email@example.com; 01223 333240
firstname.lastname@example.org; 07766 181929
email@example.com; 01672 564265