Morning all,

Please see below from Bob Walter.


Rod Kitching
Honorary Secretary


Middle England has some beautiful countryside I thought as I drove across the Vale of Belvoir and the Leicestershire Wolds on a changeable Saturday morning at the beginning of July. My destination was Great Dalby in Leicestershire, where the local cricket club is the most southerly in the South Notts Cricket League.

As I had a full quota of Panel Umpires on this Saturday, I was taking the opportunity to watch a Division ‘H’ game in order to see how the ‘pilot’ was going. I say ‘pilot’ because this relates to the idea of giving a bonus point to any team that provides an umpire for the whole of the game. This would probably be the only time I would get to a Division ‘H’ game this season, so I had set out early in order to get as much information and feedback as I could.

Great Dalby play at a delightful ground on the brow of Station Road as it descends towards the old railway line and station where services ceased many years ago. Today their visitors were Attenborough IV and as I pulled up to park my car the drizzly rain had set in and almost everybody was huddled under the pavilion veranda roof. I introduced myself to all assembled and met the two umpires, Nigel Dickinson of Great Dalby and Anthony Hubbard from Attenborough. Both of these gentlemen had attended the seminar earlier in the year at Trent Bridge where we had discussed the implementation of the ‘pilot’.

Both umpires seemed quite sure that we would start soon and at 1.42 pm we duly did so in a game reduced to 32 overs per side, a very sensible decision as it turned out to be due to the overcast and rainy conditions. Attenborough won the toss and elected to field. The cows in the top field, as if sensing play was going to start, stood up to form a natural sightscreen as they bunched together. These were heifers I was told, no milk yet but later on. Clearly my knowledge of the countryside was increasing fast.

I started my walk around the ground, as I usually do, and met some interesting characters. Lew, the grounds man, was a fount of knowledge. Totally dedicated to ‘his’ square. He told me what formed a ‘fairy ring’. He said, ” It’s the fungus underneath, you know”. Lew continued, ” But it’s a mystery how they form in circles “. A bit like crop circles, I thought.

A stoppage for another shower allowed me to visit the ‘Vine Farm Dairy’ shop at the corner of Station Road opposite the ground, where I purchased a delightful strawberry milk shake and a blonde chocolate brownie. Excellent idea I thought as the drizzle subsided and the match carried on.

The ridges and furrows of the ground at Great Dalby make it one of great charm and if you are in the field the ball can race fast down the west slope to the boundary or be held up to the north end as the undulating nature of the ground can make the ball slow down. Continuing my walk around for the second time I stopped and talked to other spectators who all had a great appreciation and love of their local club. I chatted to Lloyd and his partner whose house backs onto the north end of the ground. Everybody also knows Bob. He’s seen it all at Great Dalby. Some of the younger players have some banter with Bob to update the scoreboard. ” Go on Bob “, shouts one of them. Bob anticipating the ruse says dismissively, ” I’m talking “. The younger lads talked about their Indian takeaway the night before and their night out. Nigel came over to the pavilion brandishing a broken bail and seeking a replacement. This happens occasionally, I can testify. If you moved to and lived in Great Dalby, I think you would find it hard to leave such a beautiful part of the English Countryside. ‘Aggers’ lives just down the road, I was told.

I asked the younger lads if it was still a good night out in Melton these days. One of them replied, ” It’s not a good night out in Melton “. I said, ” So where do you go, Nottingham, Leicester ? “. Another one of them replied, ” No, Melton ! “. We all laugh. Wonderfully funny.

The ball retrieval squad is now operating with sticks and umbrellas in order to find a lost ball in the field on the other side of Station Road. A big six had bounced off the tarmac, having just missed my car. My car has yet to be hit and damaged by a cricket ball after 50 years of driving. I have just been lucky so far.

An Attenborough Dad keeps his Son fed with water and chocolate bars in a very drizzly first session with more interruptions. The Dad also says, ” Give that umpire some ( chocolate ) as well “, which Anthony gratefully accepts. However, the weather improves overall which helps Great Dalby achieve a healthy total. Great Dalby score 277-2 off their 32 overs with a superb opening partnership of 148 between Jacob Bates and Harry Wells, with Bates being the first to go having scored 63. Wells then completes a splendid century and is eventually out for 131. All rounder and captain Jamie Picker also weighs in with 60. Mark Robinson of Attenborough takes 2-31.

Attenborough struggle to score at a fast enough rate from the start of the second session and eventually finish their innings after 32 overs at 184-8 which results in a victory for Great Dalby by 93 runs. Dillan Gill with 37 and Mark Robinson with 33 make useful contributions and Jamie Picker takes 3-45 off his 8 overs. So with blue sky, sunshine and an uncovered damp pitch the game was completed just before 7.00 pm and both teams also accumulated a bonus point each on top of other points they achieved in the match.

The standard of umpiring was very good. Two experienced umpires who took a pragmatic view in a game where weather conditions were far from perfect. Both Nigel and Anthony agreed that the ‘pilot’ is helping a lot as both of them have seen more umpires doing complete games this season than in previous years. They also saw the incentive of a bonus point as an effective measure and welcomed the fact that there was nothing punitive.

I am hopeful that the ‘pilot’ will be extended to other non-Panel Umpire divisions in the 2023 season in order that as many games as possible can have two competent umpires. The League Management Committee is fully supportive of this and there is a commitment to ongoing ‘in-house’ seminar training about the ‘pilot’ and benefits it can bring. If you are reading about the ‘pilot’ for the first time or wish to get involved anyway, please let me have your views by emailing me on r.walter901@btinternet.com or contact me on my mobile 07938 182975.

I learnt an awful lot by visiting Great Dalby and it was not all about cricket. My late Father never convinced me when I was little that cows only sit down when it is going to rain. But people at Great Dalby told me it was true and it was ! They also told me that when cows sit down as a group under trees it going to be an almighty storm. I was not able to test this one at Great Dalby but I reckon it could be true as well.

Best Regards.

Bob Walter.

Umpires Secretary.”

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