Monday, 15 September 2014

A day at wonderful Wormsley

Yesterday The Middle Stump was off duty savouring the sites and sounds of Sir Paul Getty’s fabulous Wormsley Cricket ground. As we mingled in with the crowd, watching the likes of Nick Knight swanning around, Matthew Hoggard's dog and a couple of thousand other people, we had a fantastic day and I am sure that everyone who attended would agree.

The Lara XI v Warwickshire XI at Wormsley

On a day in which a former England captain nearly declined to open due to being the most 
"hungover man on the planet” in his words, a nine year old claimed a hat-trick of three former county professionals and a cricketing god dropped more than an elevator.

The day was all in aid of the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation. A country ravaged by genocide twenty years ago is rebuilding itself with cricket a driving force along the way. With the centre stage of Brian Lara Rwanda XI vs Warwickshire legends XI the crowd were greatly entertained. With the likes of ex internationals such as Lara himself, Andrew Strauss, Ashley Giles, Paul Nixon, Matthew Hoggard and Gladstone Small, a decent crowd watched the action unfold at this picturesque ground tucked into the Chiltern Hills in Buckinghamshire.

Strauss shows off his wristband

Before the start of the game the children around the ground were encouraged to join some cricket games run by the coaches of Cricket Without Boundaries. CWB are a charity who have been fundamental to the rise of cricket within Rwanda after multiple trips to the country, thousands of kids have been introduced to cricket and hundreds of teachers taught how to coach cricket in the country. Clearly these skills sessions came to the fore later that afternoon when Keith Piper, Michael Bell and Gladstone Small were knocked over like dominos.

After winning the toss (although the general public didn't see one, it is suspected captain Lara negotiated batting first due to the state of a few heads within his team), Andrew Strauss and Michael Brown opened up the match for the Brian Lara’s Rwanda XI, as tv chat show host and umpire for part of the afternoon, Michael Parkinson shouted "Play". The crowd had to wait patiently for the cricket god (Lara not Parky!) scheduled for number three after a strong opening partnership from the former Middlesex pair. Finally, they were given the opportunity to see the world record holder stride to the crease and in true fashion got off the mark with a shot through the gully region from the first delivery that he faced. However Charlie Dagnall succeeded where many failed, not with the ball but with the microphone, drawing Lara into a false shot and the great man's day was done.

The view from the pavilion at Wormsley

At one point in the afternoon there was some background noise on the mike, with Dagnall having to remind his fellow players that "you have to be very careful what you say when there is a live microphone around" before repeating the warning to Andrew Strauss causing much merriment around the ground.

A short rain break may have brought the covers onto the pitch during the interval but that didn't stop the CWB coaches getting the kids running around playing cricket.

In reply the Warwickshire XI got off to a strong, albeit slow start and were bossing the game until two inspired decisions from captain Lara. Firstly bringing Ed Pearson into the attack. Ed is the RCSF, working on the ground in Kigali working alongside the Rwanda Cricket Association in the planning of the stadium, Pearson firstly getting a much needed wicket for the Rwanda XI. Two balls later Pearson should have got his second wicket after forcing a top edge, only to see 131 times capped West Indian and cricketing god Brian Lara drop the catch. 

Lara clinging on to his pads...which is more than he did with a catch

As any captain would do, Pearson was whipped out of the attack to be replaced by Matthew Hoggard. Unfortunately Hoggard was relaxing in a deck chair on the boundary having sent on a lucky youngster. D Jarvis aged 9(ish) soon had the crowd on their feet as it was clear he was no mug. This was evident when Piper was lured out of his crease only for the quick hands of Paul Nixon to whip off the bails. Michael Bell strode to the crease and as the tension in the crowd started to rise, Jarvis showed the full range of his repertoire with a late in swinging yorker rapping the pads, with the Rwanda XI, the Crowd and even the non striker appealing for the wicket. The umpire had no choice but to give it out. 

The crowd were at fever pitch as the third lamb walked out to the slaughter, and former England bowler Gladstone Small was that lamb. On the suspicious 7th ball of the over Small clearly succumbed to the pressure of the crowd as he over balanced and became Jarvis’ hat-trick with Nixon grabbing his second stumping.

Daggers has a quiet word with Lara on the way out...

The day as a whole was a fantastic success both in the game itself and the fundraising off the pitch. It was fabulous seeing the likes of Lara mingling with the kids, and people like Paul Nixon going a stage further and hosting his ad hoc coaching schools to a clutch of youngsters. A big thank you to all involved in making the day happen.

If you wish to see the fantastic work that these charities are getting involved with, please visit their websites below.