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Don Topley: Weather was kind as the stars turned out at Holbrook

England cricketing legend and artist, Jack Russell, with his latest painting of the School cricket scene at Holbrook Photo: CONTRIBUTED

England cricketing legend and artist, Jack Russell, with his latest painting of the School cricket scene at Holbrook Photo: CONTRIBUTED

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In his weekly column Don Topley looks back at a memorable Cricket Festival

Sky Sports Cricket�s Nick Knight with the Northumbrian Coach, Steve Nutt, with a few U11 boys Photo: CONTRIBUTEDSky Sports Cricket�s Nick Knight with the Northumbrian Coach, Steve Nutt, with a few U11 boys Photo: CONTRIBUTED

The 20th Minor Counties Cricket Festivals has now been put to bed with over 320 talented young Under 11 and 12 cricketers performing on the six cricket fields at the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook.

It is a delight for the senses, with a cacophony of appeals, applause and celebration all around from the six games being played.

Hundreds of parents descend on Suffolk to support their child's first formal tour and contribute to the wonderful atmosphere.

A small number of parents do hide nervously behind a tree or a fence when their off-spring walk out to bat or has the chance to bowl - the standard of competition is very high!

Essex Captain, Ryan Ten Doeschate catching up with former colleague Graham Napier Photo: CONTRIBUTEDEssex Captain, Ryan Ten Doeschate catching up with former colleague Graham Napier Photo: CONTRIBUTED

Cambridgeshire Under 12s were impressive, winning the Ipswich Building Society Claret Jug - well, it is just a week after the British Open! Cambridgeshire won all five fixtures, but Norfolk, Suffolk and Netherlands were still in contention to win the U12s even on the last day, should Cambridgeshire slip up.

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All Under 12s fixtures were played as long format games, offering all players the chance to learn to bat; listening to England's long format game the boys would have been underwhelmed with England's trials and tribulations v Australia last week!

In contrast, the Under 11 festival is a mixture of long format and t20, which they all enjoy. Add in some coloured clothing courtesy of ColourplanPrint of Ipswich, and some music, you could be at the County Ground, Chelmsford for a t20Blast.

Essex and England�s Tom Westley with the Norfolk U12s.Essex and England�s Tom Westley with the Norfolk U12s.

A number of current and former Essex County Cricket Club players were on hand to meet the young cricketers and parents.

Essex Captain, Ryan Ten Doeschate, Tom Westley, Jamie Porter, Graham Napier, John Childs and Nick Knight (now of Sky Sports Cricket) were seen at Holbrook at the festivals.

Nick - who shared the dressing room with me at Essex in the early 1990s - had a special day watching his own son, Ollie, claiming a seven wicket haul with his leg-spin for Suffolk U11s.

The England and Gloucestershire wicketkeeping legend, Jack Russell, was also on hand, to launch his latest painting of 'The Cricket Scene at Holbrook', depicting a tall left arm bowler - the school's only international cricketer, Reece Topley - performing in front of the impressive Queen Anne style buildings on the River Stour.

Will Defoe of Ipswich Building Society presenting the Trophy to Cambridgeshire U12s captain Photo: CONTRIBUTEDWill Defoe of Ipswich Building Society presenting the Trophy to Cambridgeshire U12s captain Photo: CONTRIBUTED

It is a fabulous work of art that Jack loved painting and is currently in London at exhibition.

The Suffolk weather was kind too, the MCCF lost just five minutes of playing time over the nine days of cricket for a squally shower, so once again the Shotley Peninsula proved to be an asset with its own dry and sunny mini-climate.

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