Monday, March 23rd, 2015

County Reignite Relationship With Black Country Via Academy Games At Stourbridge

County Reignite Relationship With Black Country Via Academy Games At Stourbridge

Worcestershire CCC are reigniting their relationship with the Black Country and this summer are to play a host of Academy cricket at Stourbridge Cricket Club which regularly staged county first team games up until the early 1960s.

It is hoped this will be the forerunner to Second Eleven Championship cricket returning to the War Memorial Ground which is also the home of Stourbridge Football Club.

Worcestershire Academy Coach Elliot Wilson believes there are "a huge untapped resource of supporters and potential players" in the Black Country area encompassing the likes of Dudley and Wolverhampton.

The county played 60 first class matches at the ground between 1905 and 1962 and a further one in 1981 plus three List A games in 1969, 1970 and 1982 while second eleven cricket continued there until the early 1990s.

Wilson said: "We are reigniting out relationship with Stourbridge and the Black Country. Since I started two years ago, it is very clear to me that part of the world, the DY (Dudley) postcode, Wolverhampton, is a huge untapped resource of supporters and potential players.

"There are a lot of supporters who come down to New Road from that part of the world on the train to watch the first team. You only have to get on the train at the right time of the day to see the amount of people who come down.

"To have that real strong relationship with the Black Country and Stourbridge and Dudley and the DY postcode is a big thing for us.

"The aim is 1) to engage with the supporters to have interest in Worcestershire cricket and get them to come to New Road and 2) to tap into into the abundance of talent in that part of the world.

"The Black Country has a rich history of club cricket, and with a rich history of club cricket will undoubtedly come some good people who are working with some talented youngsters and producing more players for club cricket in the area – and hopefully also potential county players at New Road.

"I was at Stourbridge recently and hung on the wall of the pavilion was a picture wearing old Sunday League tops of Stuart Lampitt, Gavin Haynes and Chris Tolley who have played for Stourbridge Cricket Club.

"There have been a number of (Worcestershire) players who have played there over the years. We want to reignite that relationship.

"It is a cricketing hotbed, that part of the world, and the relationship and engagement with that part of the world is a big thing for the county cricket club and making sure that Black Country corridor from South Staffs, West Warwicks, North Worcs down through Kidderminster to New Road is strong, healthy."

Wilson added: We obviously played a lot of first class cricket at Stourbridge for a long time and they are very keen to have us back and we want to support them in their aspirations to host Second Eleven Championship cricket there again.

"It is a great way for us to promote Worcestershire cricket and the club and hopefully on the days we are going to be there this summer there will be a decent turnout of local folk wanting to watch good cricket.

"We have got 11 days of Academy Cricket up there this summer culminating in a two day game at the end of August between the Academy and the County Second Eleven.

"We have tried to make sure all those days of cricket are on days when the first team aren't playing at New Road so supporters can watch both.

"They want Second Eleven Championship cricket there, we would like to have it back there. There are a list of things which they need to do to be in a position to do so. Our idea is to work with them to enable it to happen.

"They have invested heavily in the last five years in the facilities, in the clubhouse which has thousands of pounds of re-wiring, the changing rooms have been upgraded, and have a full-time groundsman now.

"The number of criteria which they need to put in place, we will work with them to put that in place like enough hands on matchdays in case of poor weather, nets for pre-games activities.

"All the conversations I've had with the club have been very positive in terms of their enthusiasm to have Worcestershire CCC cricket there. We can't wait to get back there."