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Church Times Cricket Cup: a six-a-side new tournament for changing times

14 May 2021

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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. Third: the more successful dioceses, who have a full squad to draw on, can put up two teams, or more, if wished.

  4. 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.

  5. 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:

Blackburn/Carlisle/Durham

Canterbury
Neville Emslie
nemslie@diocant.org; 07921 250901 

Exeter (two teams)
Simon Franklin
safranklin@btinternet.com; 01548 830071 

Guildford/St Albans 

Hereford
Simon Tarlton
simon.tarlton@gmail.com; 07462 893457 

Leicester
James Pickersgill
james@harborough-anglican.org.uk; 07764 538593 

Lichfield (two teams)

Phil Searle
phil.hairetic@hotmail.co.uk; 07986 375409 

Lincoln
Adam Watson
watson_adam3@sky.com; 01673 565244 

Manchester
Dave Thompson
dvjt@outlook.com; 0161 7077652 

Norwich/Ely
Mark Smith
mss53@cam.ac.uk; 01223 333240 

Rochester
Saju Mathalaly
sajudoj@yahoo.com; 07766 181929 

Salisbury
Mark Windsor
markwindsor923@btinternet.com; 01672 564265

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