The inaugural Dorset Festival of Cricket has been hailed a great success by organisers as some 2,500 spectators dodged the showers and visited Bournemouth’s historic Dean Park Cricket Ground over the bank holiday weekend.
A few spots of rain failed to dampen the spirits as cricket fans caught the wave of euphoria that swept over the town following AFC Bournemouth’s promotion to football’s Premier League as Championship champions.
“It has been an absolutely amazing weekend to be in Bournemouth – whatever your sporting preferences,” says Keith Brewer, Dorset’s county cricket development manager.
Certainly the red and black shirts of the Cherries were much in evidence on the final day as Dorset entertained a full strength Hampshire side in a T20 match in aid of Hants captain Jimmy Adams’ benefit year. Despite the presence of internationals such as Michael Carberry, Owais Shah, Sean Ervine and England U19s star James Vince, Hampshire were made to work for their innings total of 167, relying heavily on a battling 76 from their captain.
In reply Dorset were able to chip away at the total with Yasir Arafat posting a solid 36, but had barely broken the 100 mark when, in grand bank holiday fashion, rain stopped play.
Sunday had seen Dorset complete their 50-over match against reigning champions Devon, with the visitors running out winners with two overs to spare. Saturday’s highlight was the first Dorset Premier League clash of the season, which saw Parley CC edge out Wimborne & Colehill CC.
The weekend’s action had begun on Friday when a Mayor’s XI, coached by former cricket professional and Bournemouth resident Paul Prichard, record a 20-run victory over a feisty Dorset Ladies side.
“The Festival of Cricket has amply demonstrated there is a great appetite for the sport not only in Bournemouth but in the county as a whole and has gone a long way to helping our bid to keep cricket at Dean Park,” says Keith Brewer. “It’s the county’s premier cricket venue, with 135 years of history and some fantastic facilities.”
Cricket continues at Dean Park this summer with a series of coaching sessions and masterclasses hosted by Paul Prichard and a full programme of Dorset CCC matches.
Other highlights include the visits of the MCC on 28 May and a T20 day featuring the Barmy Army, Lord’s Taverners and Parley CC on 28 August.
Dean Park operates a full bistro bar and catering service on match days and weekends with teas and home-baked cakes, as well as local ales and ciders. A full range of sponsorship opportunities and hospitality packages has been created for the Festival of Cricket. Full details at www.dorsetcricketboard.co.uk, or tel 01202 881349.