Annual festivals are a resounding success

THE annual RHS Minor Counties Festivals were a resounding success.

The five-day under-12 tournament, taking place for the sixth time, saw Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire emerge as the two group winners out of the eight teams taking part at the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook, near Ipswich.

Although Bucks held the upper hand in the final, it was Hertfordshire who eventually came through to win in the end.

Suffolk finished bottom of their group, but then defeated Cleveland in their seventh and eighth-place play-off to avoid the wooden spoon.

The three-day under-11s festival from the Friday to the Sunday saw Essex and Northumberland both win each of their three matches.

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Suffolk performed better than their under-12 counterparts and won two of their three matches, with Matt Whittaker scoring a century on the second day.

This year was the 13th staging of the under-11s festival since former Essex cricketer Don Topley, who is a member of staff at the school, came up with the idea.

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Not only are three cricketers, including his own son Reece, now playing professional cricket but ten other young players to appear in the festivals are now with first-class academies.

Festival organiser Topley said: “The hot weather made for excellent batting conditions and quick outfields. Over the eight days we had about 340 young cricketers and their families here.

“It all adds up to a tremendous amount of people attending who come and spend their traditional summer holiday in the Suffolk countryside watching their sons play.

“And they bring a huge amount of income into the local economy by staying in hotels and eating in restaurants and pubs.”

Both events were once again sponsored by Ipswich Building Society and Topley said he was grateful for their continued support plus sponsorship from PiriPiri Cricket Bats, who donated a bat to the highest scorer in each age group, Tuckwell agricultural machinery and Palladian Press.

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