On Saturday, White Coppice play their final game of the 2017 season against Vernon Carus still searching for their first win. I’m the world’s most positive bloke but I don’t think there will be a lot of money on us breaking our duck (especially because I’m due to be captain).
Coppice’s troubles this season are well known. We’ve lost as many players as we have games (18 at the last count ) but we’ve not forfeited any games even when we had to take to the field against New Longton with only seven players.
However, the player shortage is not unique to small village clubs like White Coppice. On Saturday I had a good chat with Fulwood & Broughton in between the rain showers which eventually saw our match abandoned.
Fulwood & Broughton would be termed a ‘big club’. They have terrific facilities, a great youth structure and have announced ambitious plans to build a new ground at the back of their existing home.
However one of their lads was telling me they’ve lost around 15 lads from last season. The exodus is no reflection on the club with players relocating to London or Manchester or having a family or going to university but it does highlight the different pulls on people’s time.
Last week they played Norcross, who posted 308-4 and bowled F&B out for 54. I barely recognised some of the players in the line-up. Thankfully they can call up players from a thriving youth set up but it does highlight the challenges facing clubs of all sizes.
Although White Coppice haven’t won any matches this season, we have won a few friends along the way, which is a far cry from the actions of Carew Cricket Club in the Pembrokeshire County Cricket Club League.
Carew went into their final Division One match against second-placed Cresselly with a 21 point lead. You get 20 points for a win but there are bonus points on offer for every 40 runs scored and every two wickets taken.
It meant that Cresselly not only had to win the game but get two more bonus points than their opponents. So what did they do? The answer is Carew declared their innings at 18-1, denying their opponents the chance to get any bonus points.
Carew lost the match but won the league. The decision has attracted headlines and criticism as far afield as India and Australia with a host of former players lining up to criticise the decision.
Former England captain Michael Vaughan summed it up best when he said Carew should be suspended for a year and I agree.
Carew haven’t broken any cricket laws but their actions have broken the spirit of cricket, which is far more important than winning a championship title.
Carew posted a photo of the winning team on Twitter but the comments below show how much anger it’s caused all over the world, especially among club cricketers.
David Smith (aka @Smudgeboy99) summed it up best when he tweeted: “This will be rolled out for YEARS when people talk about the integrity of sport. @CarewCC will become the watchword for bad sports. Well done.”
Paul Rainford posted: “You might be 'champions' but you're certainly not winners and deep down, you'll know it. Winners would have wanted to play.”
That’s why when White Coppice takes to the field on Saturday we’ll do so with our heads held high. Protecting the integrity and the value of cricket is worth far more than winning a championship.