CLUBS across Gloucestershire have made tremendous efforts to get their grounds ready for cricket after the Government gave the sport the go-ahead to return despite the ongoing Coronavirus crisis – but few have worked harder than Quedgeley & Hardwicke.
As these pictures show, their square at Kingsway Playing Fields has been transformed in six weeks or so from something resembling a farmer’s field to a wicket which, in one and-a-half games, has produced almost 600 runs!
Neil Martin, chairman of the thriving Gloucestershire County League club, takes up the story.
He said: “Back in early June we honestly did not think we would be playing any cricket at all this summer.
“We use a facility that is operated by Quedgeley Town Council, and during lockdown it was closed and we had no access to water or a power supply.
“We also did not want to incur any costs if there was no chance of generating any income, and that’s where we were … it looked like a write-off this year and the square appeared unusable.
“But as soon as the restrictions were eased, the council were extremely supportive and encouraging, and Eric Woodmason from the GCB was a great help with lots of advice and direction.”
It was also at this point that Ed Martin and Ed Owen stepped forward. Both are second team regulars who wanted to do their bit but had no previous experience at all in preparing wickets.
Neil added: “They were very resourceful, going online to find out what would work well, and spent hours and hours and hours down here getting things right.
“Ed Martin, in fact, made contact with a groundsman at Oxford University through an online forum and he made a site visit to help us out.
“The deluge of rain we had at the end of June worked out to be perfectly timed but we deserved a bit of luck after everything that had happened.”
The new-look square was first used for an inter-club friendly which saw some 430 runs scored in 80 overs. And on the weekend, Quedgeley & Hardwicke were 161-3 off 30 overs at home to Upton St Leonards in a league clash when the rain had the last word with opener Ubaid Bokhari top scoring on 85.
Neil said: “It honestly felt as if we were clutching at straws last month but now we’re in a situation where the square is being used almost every day of the week as we also run under-9s, 11s, 13s and 15s as well as a ladies team.
“We had five players left over last weekend after picking two sides and that’s something that has been almost unheard of in recent seasons, but there’s great enthusiasm from everyone to play as much as possible.
“We can’t thank the two Eds enough for all their hard work.”
Quedgeley & Hardwicke have been further boosted by the recent approval of an ECB Return to Cricket grant application which was backed by the GCB.