Village or Village cricket

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Village or Village cricket

Village or Village cricket is literally “country cricket“, popular in modern England and Wales villages. These days, the term is often dismissive.

Village or Village cricket originated in the 17th century and stood at the origins of modern professional cricket. The first competitions were held between rival villages or counties. This is a basic difference from the so-called representative cricket, where a team can be represented by players from more than one district (for example, the national team).

Thus, the teams that compete at the Village cricket level are mainly composed of local natives. However, in some cases (for example, First XI), it is allowed to recruit players from small clubs in the counties and local cricket academies.

In addition to local competitions, provincial teams meet annually to participate in the National Village Cup, organized by Cricketer magazine. The first Cup was played in 1972 and since then, Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack has regularly covered all matches, focusing on the final.

Only those teams assigned to villages with a population of no more than 10,000 people are allowed to qualify for the National Village Cup (the threshold was only 2,500 until 2019, but later the organizers revised this requirement to increase the entertainment of the event and attract the public). At the same time, the rules additionally specify that the village represented by the team must be located in the open countryside. English, Welsh and Scottish teams can apply to participate in the National Village Cup. The famous Lord’s sports complex will host the final of the competition.

Yorkshire is the undisputed champion of the National Village Cup: over the years of the competition, eight clubs representing this county have won a total of twelve titles. Most often, others won the tournament (in descending order):

County Number of winning teams Trophies won
Wales 5 8
Cheshire 2 3
Cornwall 1 3
Derbyshire 2 3
Hertfordshire 1 3
Hampshire 2 2
Herefordshire 2 2
Kent 1 2
Oxfordshire 1 2
Wiltshire 2 2
Cumbria 1 1
Lancashire 1 1
Northumberland 1 1
Scotland 1 1
Surrey 1 1
Sussex 1 1
Worcestershire 1 1

The National Village Cup also has its book of individual records and anti-records. So, the best of the best among batsmen are officially recognized:

  • Scott Mason – 138 runs (match Sessay against Sibton Park, 2016);
  • Miles Malleson – 123 runs (match Goatacre against Dunstall, 1990);
  • Edward Hales – 119 runs (Redbourn against Colwall, 2020 год;
  • Lloyd Smith – 113 runs (match Sully Centurions against Exhall & Wixford, 2004);
  • Toby Kingsbury – 103 runs (match Findon against Woodhouse Grange, 2007);
  • Paul Birch – 101 runs (match Elvaston against Werrington, 1994).

The best bowlers of the National Village Cup are:

  • Paul Discombe – 6/18 (match Ynystawe against Elvaston, 2001);
  • Ronnie Coulson – 6/24 (match Lindal Moor against Cookley, 1977);
  • Paul Snell – 5/24 (match Shipton-under-Wychwood against Astwood Bank, 2003);
  • Simon Davis – 5/38 (match Eversholt against Elvaston, 2000);
  • Jamie Sylvester – 4/17 (match St Fagans against Harome, 1991).

The highest statistics were recorded in the following matches:

  • 307/5 – match Sessay against Sibton Park, 2016;
  • 267/5 – match Goatacre against Dunstall, 1990;
  • 256/2 – match Woodhouse Grange against Foxton, 2015;
  • 243/4 – match Sully Centurions against Exhall & Wixford, 2004;
  • 238/8 – match Methley against Apperley, 1998;
  • 237/8 – match Foxton against Woodhouse Grange, 2015;
  • 229/6 – match Colwall against Redbourn, 2020.

The lowest performance in the National Village Cup was demonstrated by:

  • 79 – match Astwood Bank against Shipton-under-Wychwood, 2003;
  • 82/9 – match Longparish against Marchwiel, 1980;
  • 90 – match Treeton Welfare against Longparish, 1987;
  • 91 – match Elvaston against Ynystawe, 2001.

Colwall (Herefordshire & Powys) is the current champion of the National Village Cup.

Interestingly: professional cricketers playing at the international level often use the term Village or Village cricket in a figurative sense, implying primarily an amateur nature of the game or lack of necessary skills, quality preparation or understanding of the Spirit of cricket in general.

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Nisha Bhavani
Author: Nisha Bhavani Position: Cricket Expert
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