Minor Counties Festivals start next Friday

THE 13th Royal Hospital School Minor Counties Cricket Festival gets under way next Friday with the under-12s competition.

The competition, sponsored by the Ipswich Building Society, will feature matches each day from Saturday through to the following Wednesday. The following counties will be taking part this year – Cumbria, Cleveland, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Buckingham-shire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Northumberland and The Netherlands.

The Under-11s Festival starts the following Thursday, 9 August, with fixtures on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The following counties have confirmed their participation – Cumbria, Cleveland, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, North Essex District, Northumberland and the Vale of Glamorgan.

The popular festivals, which started with the U11s age group in 1999, were the idea of former professional cricketer, Don Topley, who is sports development manager and master in charge of cricket at the Royal Hospital School.

The U12s competition began in 2005, and host county Suffolk won the inaugural trophy.

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Topley said: “On behalf of all the organisers and participants of these events, I am very grateful to the school for hosting the festivals for the past 13 years. They are, undoubtedly, the best in their age group in the country.

“To have over 350 talented young cricketers playing on our 200-acre site overlooking the River Stour is not only a spectacular sight but an extremely inspiring opportunity for the participants, and their supporters, most of whom are on their first formal cricket tour.

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“This first time minor-counties experience has led to six former ‘old boys’ of the festival going on to be full time professionals with first-class counties. The events also bring a significant income into the local community with so many families from all over the UK staying in around the Shotley Peninsula.”

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