If you don’t know your yorkers from your googlies and have no idea why silly mid off is so well named, you probably think cricket is a slightly odd game.
Anyone who witnessed a rather informal international between the UK and the USA in Staplefield, in June 1983, would have been inclined to agree with you.
For a start, one of the teams was decked out in softball uniforms – definitely not cricket.
The match took place at Staplefield village green and ended with a win for the Brits. It was followed by a game of softball – which the home team lost rather spectacularly.
But why did the games take place at all?
A report in the Mid Sussex Times, by Neil Wallis, stated: “Martin Schmidt, their spokesman, explained what it was all about. He modestly told me he work for Charles Of The Ritz, in the USA – he is, in fact, the company president.
“Said Martin: ‘Roy Veal, an Englishman from Pershore, in Worcestershire, came to the States to work and joined the local softball team at Montville, New Jersey.
“After a while, talk got round to cricket and Roy arranged a trip to his old home town, where we played them at cricket and softball. We wanted to fit in a second game, so I contacted Ken Swallow at Charles Of The Ritz, Burgess Hill, and here we are.”
While the US lads proved themselves to be rather useful fielders, their bowling skill was described as leaving “a lot to be desired.”
During their visit to Pershore, they had drawn the cricket match and lost at softball.
Martin said: “We are getting very good at cricket but not so good at softball.”
The result of the matches in Staplefield, though, turned his words on their head, as the home team – clearly batting for local pride – secured a cricketing win, but failed to make head nor tail of softball, giving their opponents the most comfortable of wins.
Softball, for those who aren’t sure what the sport entails, is essentially “baseball for old men”, as Martin described it, adding: “The ball is a lot bigger, so you can see it coming.”
Once the games were over, Ken Swallow spoke highly of the American visitors.
He said: “They were great – a really nice bunch of chaps. They taught the local kids how to play softball and gave out hats, badges and presents to them later. It was a terrific day.”
A return visit was planned for 1984. Does anyone know whether the Staplefield lads made their way over to the States?
Putting the big international aside, our final photo shows the men of the Keymer & Hassocks Sunday 1st XI, who had just drawn against Henfield.
According to the report, Colin Faith and Tony Chad batted well, scoring 28 and 31 respectively. Henfield opener, Dave Silverson, was the star of the match, though, with a score of 98 not out when his captain declared the innings.
The line-up included: Steve Baldwin, Ray Tucker, Richard Bostel (captain), Tony Chad, Nick Walters, John Grimley, Ian Kentsley, Barry Burt, Colin Faith, Nigel Renaut and Dave Hewison.
Do any of the team still take to the field as veterans?
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