WHO will take the wickets? That is the crucial question with the Brewin Dolphin cricket festival underway.
The weather forecast is fine, all the batsmen are in form but can we bowl the opposition out? England prospect Craig Miles is not quite ready; last year’s hat-trick hero James Fuller is some way off playing; Matt Taylor has shin splint problems and, of course, Ian Saxelby has retired.
Will Gidman will bowl splendidly; David Payne and Liam Norwell will be as willing as ever, but our spin attack has yet to butter many parsnips this season. Miles Hammond is now available as the school term has ended, while fellow off-spinner Tom Shrewsbury has taken few wickets in the 2nd XI. You need to take 20 wickets to win a championship game. Have we the bowlers to take them?
There is no doubt about the batting. Runs will certainly come. Captain Klinger is back, Will Tavare and Ian Cockbain are scoring good runs and with wicketkeeper Adam Rouse in good form we bat well and deep. So well in fact that out of form Chris Dent did not make the side against Derbyshire this week. His day will come again.
Cheltenham is much more than cricket, however, and this year is no different. There was coffee and Danish pastries on Tuesday; the Exiles Day on Wednesday; a Friday evening T20 Blast and on Sunday Mrs Light is wearing her clerical collar and leading a service in the College Chapter (11.30am).
Everyone is welcome and the theme this year will be memories. Frank Keating, David Allen and John Mortimore, who have left us this year, have all given us so many.
Frank used to catch the bus outside Stroud’s Woolworths at the same time as I caught the Cheltenham bus in Gosditch Street, Cirencester, outside Mr Rowe ‘the oilman’s shop. The same service still runs and armed with my bus pass I shall be aboard. Sixty-five festivals and still counting!
Director of cricket John Bracewell sometimes stays in the Cotswolds during the Festival. One morning he waved me over in a state of great excitement. An early morning walker he had discovered ‘the most wonderful cricket ground – from it you cannot see another building, it is not far from the River Coln’. He meant Bibury, of course, and with a square lovingly prepared by ‘Mr Bibury’ Terry Day it is a delight to play there.
On Saturday a bench was unveiled in memory of Robbie Hopkins who took many wickets bowling for Bibury. His charming, talented family will surely be his finest memorial.