Enter to skip to main content

Masthead showing parish logo, followed by photos of the two pubs and the church

Click for Parish Council Website A PDF version of the entire Millennium Book is available on request from the Parish Clerk (parish-clerk@berrickandroke.org.uk).

THE ANNUAL CRICKET MATCH

When this is read I doubt whether cricket will still exist - and the world will be poorer for it. How can anyone fail to mourn the passing of a game that in its hey-day was not simply a sport, but a reflection of a way of life that was more relaxed and much less frenetic than the lives we live in the late 20th Century. With its passing will also go a vocabulary that, to an unsuspecting stranger, could not be taken seriously. 'Silly mid-on', 'Short fine leg', 'Long leg' 'Deep mid-wicket' - all phrases to conjure with.
Still, in 1999, cricket still flourishes, and never more so than when Berrick Prior takes on The Rest of the World at 2.30 p.m on the first Sunday in September at the Recreation Ground (apart from the year when we played in Ian Glyn's field and had to contend with natural hazards deposited by cows which appeared to have suffered some major gastric problems!).
The origins of the match lie in a challenge thrown down in the mid-eighties in the Chequers, and the contest has been vigorously pursued ever since. For clarification, it is worth defining Berrick Prior, if only to emphasise from the outset the enormity of the challenge they face. Coming from the north, Berrick Prior begins at the village signposts and ends at a line that runs across the back of the gardens in Green Lane and bisects the Chequers pub. In total, this amounts to some twenty houses. In mitigation of some of the selection decisions, it is fair to say that regulars at the Chequers, previous residents and week-end visitors have been known to be included in the Berrick Prior team.
The Rest of The World, for the purposes of this exercise, tends to consist of the rest of Berrick Salome, Roke and Rokemarsh - plus, of course, Continental Europe, and the Continents of Africa, Asia and America whose inhabitants, it must be admitted, are rarely called on. For 364 days of the year, the Recreation field could easily pass for cow pasture, but for the day of the cricket match it takes on a close resemblance to a proper cricket pitch - at least from a distance. The curator for this event is Norman Willifer under whose watchful eye the wicket is shorn to the kind of length that will allow the ball to bounce (generally somewhat turgidly), but at the same time ensure that all the ruts, rabbit scrapes and indentations remain well covered.
By tradition, and irrespective of who wins the toss, The Rest of The World bats first, and tend to rattle up a pretty good score. Every player, apart from the wicket-keeper, has to bowl two overs, be they good, bad or indifferent. For some, that's a challenge; for everyone it's an integral part of the game. The highlight of the match for many is the Tea Interval. Organised by the Captains' Wives, and contributed to by all the players or their partners, tea is a memorable occasion. Plate upon plate of cakes and sandwiches cover a table which is five metres long, and it's £1 a head for as much as you can eat. In years when there is a Show, items (mainly fruit, veg, jams and flowers) not collected by entrants are auctioned. The speed of the bidding can be frenetic, but with a generous audience it is rarely difficult to raise a welcome addition to the Show's funds.
After tea, it is Berrick Prior's turn to bat - generally with a level of determination that has to be admired, but rarely with sufficient runs to achieve victory. In fact, Berrick Prior have won only 3 times - but hope reigns eternal as one match ends and sights are set on the following year! The victorious side is presented with the match trophy by the losing captain whose role is two-fold - firstly to concoct a formula that shows that the losing side (normally Berrick Prior) have won, in spite of scoring fewer runs, and secondly to congratulate the victors on their splendid performance. The whole day is wound up with the presentation of 'the man of the match' award. This is a recent innovation and the trophy was presented by Janis Roberts in memory of her husband, Peter, who was a keen supporter of all village activities, and, in particular, of the cricket match. As the century turns, the holder of the trophy is Dennis Cooper - a stalwart of the Berrick Prior team, whose qualifications to represent that team come not from his place of residence (it's in Berrick Salome) but from his selfless personal sacrifice in ensuring that the profitability of The Chequers is well supported from his own pocket.
An early "Rest-of-the-World" Cricket Team

Roll on next year when once again terms like 'Third man', 'Cover point', 'Square leg' will once again be heard on the village Recreation Ground.
The two umpires come from the village and are totally un-biased - a stance made easier by the non-application of the dreaded, and invariably debated, LBW decision. They also limit the bowlers' run-up to 5 paces - a measure needed to ensure no inordinately fast bowling on a surface that has been known to make the ball jump very viciously.
There are spectators aplenty, sometimes cheering on the favourite bowler, often encouraging batsmen to take a quick single, frequently dozing after a heavy lunch, and always in danger of being struck by a flying ball.

Roger Smith
Captain of Berrick Prior