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Hethersett Cricket Club History

The Modern Era

By Peter Steward

Reading through this history of Hethersett Cricket Club has brought back many memories of the halcyon days of village cricket and many of the characters that have represented Hethersett. 

It seems fitting, therefore, as the club celebrates its 150th anniversary to bring the history up to date. 

The last 10 years have seen tremendous changes within the club during a period of time I would refer to as the Modern Era. During that time the face of cricket has changed at all levels with more limited over competitions and the introduction of the biff bang 20-20 cricket – certainly not a game for the traditionalists or purists, but one that has made our national game an exciting spectacle. 

In working my way through the club’s history, I was struck by the number of “ridiculously” low totals and the way bowling has seemed to hold sway. Double figure team totals seem to have been the norm and a quick glance of the averages for 1957 seems to perfectly illustrate the ascendancy the bowlers had over the batsmen. 

In that year Tony Curson topped the batting with what today would be considered to be a paltry average of 12.42.That comment is in no way meant to demean Tony’s achievement. But it does show the influence that bowlers had on games. 

Batting averages in single figures were also the norm and bowlers ended the season with a wicket for every four or five runs scored against them (that’s just one boundary!) 

Today that kind of thing would be unimaginable. So how has the subtle shift come about which now sees teams like Hethersett regularly rattling up scores of between 150 and 200?

Firstly batting techniques have improved. Similarly bats and protective equipment have also moved forward, giving the batsmen more confidence. Above all the quality of pitches has improved beyond measure with clubs now taking a great pride in producing that “perfect track” 

Often the lottery of bounce has been taken out of play. Scoring rates of 10 an over for 20 over games are not unheard of and team totals of under 50 are now minimal. 

As I read through the history to this point a number of ghosts of summers' past float before my eyes. I moved to the village in 1976 and soon became immersed in the history and heritage of the area. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the pursuit of cricket.

Today I can still see veterans such as Tony Curson and Ralph Wright (neither no longer with us) playing a straight bat on the Memorial Field.

But I mustn't tarry in the past as we have the present to approach. I have tried in bringing this history up to date to write in a similar style to those adopted by Messrs Harris and Kerslake.

Taking Harold Kerslake's final chapter "Not Out" as my starting point, I will include as reportage, details of a split in the club which was to have repercussions at a later date. This part of the Hethersett story is covered on a personal level by Harold, but I feel that it is slightly too personal to include here in the way that he set it down.

Suffice it to say that a split in the club took place following the annual general meeting in 1989. It surrounded alleged disagreements over the behaviour of certain members of the club and complaints from other clubs. As a result 15 club members resigned and formed a new club Ketteringham Hall.

Despite the problems the Hethersett club continued to organise a full fixture list in competitions such as the Burgess Shield and the Hales Youth League. Writing at the time, Harold Kerslake, who was Acting Chairman following the resignation of chairman Alan Rowell stated the following:

"There is plenty of cricket for everyone and opportunities for all members to participate in the cricket provided."

Gradually through the nineties, Hethersett gained in strength once again. Harold Kerslake continued to organise the youth team and in 1996 the youngsters entered the Under-16s County competition playing against such sides as Horsford, Sprowston, Mallards and Fakenham. It was a valuable experience for the youngsters and I was able to help in some small ways with the coaching.

Two things spring to mind from those early seasons and should serve as a lesson to any coaches of youngsters. To my mind the four most difficult things to teach young boys learning cricket are:

1/ To cut down bowling pace in favour of accuracy. So many youngsters look upon themselves as the world's next demon fast bowler. As a result they try to bowl too fast and the ball shoots everywhere. If you want to be a fast bowler, learn accuracy first and build up pace second and not the other way round.

2/ Linked to the above is the inability to bowl straight. Again often through too much pace. The number of wides conceded at village and youth level is criminal. I seem to remember in limited over matches watching the youth players bowling up to 20 wides in an innings which effectively gives your opponents three more overs.

3/ Thirdly running between wickets. On so many occasions we had to shout at the youngsters from the boundary to run. Comfortable threes were turned into hesitant ones. The concept of running and judging runs always seemed to be a virtually impossible one. And calling seemed to be a request to act in a totally unsuitable way.

4/ Fourthly and perhaps most important for the real youngsters is the concept of participation and the idea that cricket is a long and, at times, slow game where players can spend long periods of inactivity either waiting to bat or standing in the outfield without the ball coming their way. Youngsters, understandably, want to be continually involved in the action and of course this is not possible in cricket. I have seen the same kind of thing in football with young players all running after the ball in a 20 player pack.

At the time of updating the club's history, Harold Kerslake gave the names of members of the boys' teams. A number still play for the club and many for the successful first team in the Norfolk League.

These include Jonathan Swann, Russell Cooper, Matt Steward, James Curson, Steven Beck and Robert Mitchell.

Many of these youngsters, now in their 20s, also play football for the village.

Harold concludes his final chapter with the words. "The future looks good with such young players which should ensure that Hethersett Cricket Club is very much Not Out.

Those were prophetic words as I shall explain as I continue the history of Hethersett Cricket Club.

Update 2008

A few years ago thanks to the generosity of the Ellis family Hethersett Cricket Club changed its name to Hethersett and Tas Valley and moved lock, stock and barrel to a new ground at Flordon which is a 20 minute drive from Hethersett. A purpose built club house, changing rooms, shower block and two first class pitches were the order of the day as the club moved up the leagues with a whole host of honours that culminated in 2008 with winning the Norfolk League first division championship and promotion to the top flight Norfolk cricket league - the Norfolk Alliance.

Numerous honours followed the entry into the Norfolk League and below is a list of just some of the titles and trophies won.

1986 Burgess Shield Winners
1990 Burgess Shield Winners
1993 Burgess Shield Winners
Ruth Watling Midweek Cup Runners-Up
1994 Ruth Watling Midweek Cup Runners-Up
1995 Burgess Shield Winners
1999 Norfolk League Division Six Winners
2000 Norfolk League Division Five Runners-Up
Lady Mary Trophy Runners-Up
2001 Burgess Shield Winners
Wensum Midweek Cup Runners-Up
2002 Norfolk League Division Five Runners-Up
2003 Norfolk League Division Four Winners
Burgess Shield Runners-Up
2004 Norfolk League Division Four Winners
Burgess Shield Winners
Ken Otway Shiled Winners
2005 Norfolk League Division Three Winners
Norfolk League Division Nine Winners
Ken Otway Shiled Winners
2006 Wensum Midweek Cup Runners-Up
2007 Norfolk League Division Two winners
Norfolk League Division Seven Winners
Mid Norfolk League Division Two Winners
Broke Sunday Cup Runners-Up
Wensum Midweek Cup Runners-up
2008 Norfolk League Division One Champions
Wensum Midweek Cup Winners
Norfolk Junior Cup Runners-Up

 A number of Hethersett Players have won individual league honours including the following

1998 Matt Ellis Norfolk League Division Six Bowler of the Year
1999 Matt Ellis Norfolk League Batsman of the Year
Matt Ellis Norfolk League Division Six Batsman of the Year
2000 Matt Ellis Norfolk League Division Five Batsman of the Year
2003 Matt Ellis Norfolk League Division Four Bowler of the Year
2004 Brian Burrett Norfolk League Division Ten Batsman of the Year
2005 Nick Burrett Norfolk League Under-19 Batsman of the Year
Nick Burrett Norfolk League Division Nine Batsman of the Year
2006 Matt Ellis Norfolk League all-rounder of the Year
2007 Matt Ellis Norfolk League Batsman of the Year
Matt Ellis Norfolk League Division Two Batsman of the Year
Tony Wenham Norfolk League Division Seven Batsman of the Year
2008 Rob Mitchell Norfolk League Division Five Batsman of the Year