Cricket enthusiasts look to bring a bit of England to Hants County

Carole Morris-Underhill
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A popular English pastime is making a comeback in Nova Scotia.

Cricket, a game with roots dating back to early 16th-century England, is slowly building a following in the Valley after years of obscurity.

“Cricket used to be in the Valley some 100-odd years ago but it took a dive with the advent of baseball,” said Dillon Tonkin, the treasurer of the Annapolis County Cricket Club (ACCC).

Last year, a group of friends planned and executed a historic exhibition cricket match at Fort Anne in Annapolis Royal. Due to the interest expressed in the sport's revival, the club soon took shape, and small teams started springing up.

Hants County is the latest area to show interest in the sport.

“It's a nice idyllic thing to play on a Sunday afternoon, or a Saturday,” said Mick Murray, the mastermind behind the new Hants County cricket club.

Members of the ACCC visited Irishman's Road Recreation Site for Hants County's first official cricket match last weekend. Murray said he hopes to hold a few more matches before the summer is over, but says he certainly foresees great things for next season.

“There's enough people in Hants County and Kings County to get something going,” said Murray.

Both Tonkin and Murray stress the game is easy to understand and is suitable for all ages and genders.

“Cricket is a strange game, as Canadians tell me,” said Tonkin. “(But) it's not particularly difficult for beginners to get involved with. There are lots of roles in cricket, so it's easy to get in. You don't have to have a high level of expertise or athletic ability to begin playing.”

Tonkin said the social aspect of the game is just as important for his club as actually playing matches.

“We like to think we encourage the friendliness of the whole thing,” said Tonkin. “We make sure we have a good time and enjoy what we're doing.”

A typical match lasts about three hours.

“This is what we call village cricket in England where two groups of people get together to play a game, somebody may win, it may be a tie, nobody cares because after 20 overs, we're going to have sandwiches and pop and cakes,” said Murray.

Murray said there were a number of local folks, many of whom are ex-pats, that are considering joining the new club. He hopes more people, even those with absolutely no cricket experience, will contact him and, at the very least, check it out.

“Even if they want to try it the once and never play it again, by all means, get in touch, come on out and come and have a go,” said Murray.

Tonkin shared a similar sentiment, and hopes to see the sport gradually grow.

“We're realistic with the hope of cricket in the Valley,” said Tonkin. “In other words, we would like to see the gradual increase in interest from people. Perhaps, in a few years time, we could have four county teams and a league and we could meet regularly during the summer for matches.”

The ACCC has been called on to play exhibition matches to showcase the sport, and were even in town this summer at the British Motoring Festival.

To find out more about the Hants County group, e-mail whusa@hotmail.com.

To learn more about the ACCC, visit http://annapoliscountycricket.ca. They also have a very active Facebook page.

Organizations: Annapolis County Cricket Club, Annapolis Royal

Geographic location: Hants County, England, Nova Scotia Kings West Hants Windsor Valley Annapolis Valley Annapolis Royal Fort Anne

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