Festival nights — reflections on the MiniMatchplay festival at the CloudFM Essex County Ground, Chelmsford

I enjoyed two evenings this week at the County Ground, Chelmsford, officiating in the annual MiniMatchplay festivals hosted by Essex Cricket in the Community.

The MiniMatchplay is a participation event, for teams of under 11s from clubs around the County.

What a great opportunity for the young cricketers to play on a first class ground, under floodlights. Certainly trumps my only appearance (to date) at the County Ground as a player.

MiniMatchplay? MiniMayhem!

Teams of 6 each played three games (5 overs per innings) over the evening, with the final rounds completed under the floodlights. We did keep scores, which were broadcast over the ground PA system, but there were no (official) group tables, and no “champions” at the end of the night.

I’m not convinced all of the clubs fully embraced the “participation” ethos. No, there won’t be a play-off at the end. No, the groups can’t be seeded so the “better” sides can play each other.

It was a little disappointing to see so few teams from “metropolitan” Essex (my own home area, and a hotbed of cricketing activity) but perhaps understandable that not more teams attended from London-based clubs. I didn’t get home until after 10.30pm on both nights…late enough for me, very late indeed for under 11s.

One player asked the time before starting her over, and, on hearing that it was 8.45pm, announced delightedly “it’s after my bedtime!”…and then bowled probably the best over after bedtime that I have seen in nearly 50 years of playing and umpiring.

Several Clubs brought teams dressed in their All Stars kit, so might well have been represented by under 9s. The youngest player I was aware of was just 6 — he hit a back-foot drive back past the bowler…yes, I think he was OK to play!

Thanks to

  • Essex Cricket in the Community, especially Charlotte Read, for putting the festival on;
  • to Essex groundsman Stuart Kerrison for allowing us to use the ground in the middle of the season (we really did try keep everyone off the square!);
  • to all of the organisers and parents from the junior sections of the Clubs involved;
  • to the players.

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