Newclose County Cricket Ground celebrates

This in from Hugh Griffiths, Newclose County Cricket Ground:

Three important figures from Hampshire Cricket joined 40 people from the Island’s cricket and business communities recently to celebrate the fact that the Newclose County Cricket Ground would be hosting a Hampshire 1st XI County Championship fixture next season. From 20th to 23rd May Hampshire will take on Nottinghamshire in a four day County Championship match. It will mark the return of First Class cricket to the Isle of Wight after an absence of 57 years.

The three special guests from Hampshire Cricket were James Vince, current Captain and England International, Jimmy Adams former Captain and Charlie Freeston who is Coach to the Hampshire 2nd XI.

Louis Vanassche of Leslies Motors was another guest and was thanked for his company’s sponsorship of both Newclose and the Isle of Wight Cricket Board. The Newclose Charity in its tenth year will be maintaining its support of youth cricket and the Isle of Wight Cricket Board based at the ground will continue to organise numerous youth matches and tournaments throughout the season as well as the ‘All Stars’ scheme to introduce youngsters to cricket.

To encourage the development of young cricketers two trophies will be presented each year by Newclose. The first recipients had the very special pleasure of receiving their trophies from two of the stars of Hampshire cricket. Dan Cox received the Bob Henly Trophy from Jimmy Adams, for the best bowling performance by a young player at Newclose in season 2018. Freddie Gurney received the John L Davies Trophy from James Vince for the best batting performance by a young player at Newclose in season 2018.

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Two of the Newclose Trustees, David Tolfrey and Hugh Griffiths acted as hosts for the evening and David recalled the early days a decade ago when he was asked by Brian Gardener to help establish the ground. He also spoke of the enormous efforts of John Hilsum and how the three of them had overcome numerous challenges to get the ground built and ready for cricket to start in 2009.

Hugh gave credit to a number of other committee members and volunteers who had given their support in the decade since then and noted how sad it was that several, as in the case of Brian and John, had not lived to see First Class Cricket’s return to the Island. The most recent example was the loss of Newclose’s long serving scoreboard operator Ken Hamblin who passed away in October and who in earlier times had played and umpired local cricket.

A question and answer session with James Vince and Jimmy Adams gave the audience some insight into the life of top sportsmen in the 21st Century. This contrasted with cricketers of earlier times and a brief talk by Hugh highlighted the famous players who had graced the Isle of Wight grounds at Newport and Cowes that hosted Hampshire in 1938 and 1939 and from 1956 to 1962. Their names included Bill Edrich, Tom Graveney, Trevor Bailey and many others, along with heroes of Hampshire Cricket such as Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, Derek Shackleton and Roy Marshall.

The evening closed with both trustees recognising the tireless efforts of Andy Butler, the Newclose Groundsman who was loudly applauded by a cheerful group of cricket enthusiasts – some of of whom offered their services as volunteers to assist in the lead up to the match in May and during the four days of play. Anyone interested in joining the group of Newclose volunteers should contact Hugh Griffiths by phone on 407772 or via the Newclose website.