GET up close to the Pirbright Cricket Club clock tower that sits on top of its pavilion, and you may be able to make out the letters “JBA” and “ESA”.

These are the initials of club chairman Peter Austin’s parents, a fitting tribute for the service they gave their country during the Second World War.

The pavilion’s clock tower bears the initials of club chairman Austin’s parents

Austin’s father John was a bomber pilot in a secret squadron, and in the latter part of the war dropped agents into occupied France.

The clock tower will be preserved as Austin and club president Derek Bytheway now lead plans to pull down the existing pavilion and create a bigger, modern facility that they hope will re-energise the local sporting community.

It needs it. Bisley and Lightwater are among neighbouring cricket clubs to have folded in recent years – and with Bytheway stating that member numbers have decreased by a third in the last 10 years, it’s easy to see why.

Pirbright’s Peter Austin (left) and Derek Bytheway

“We’re fighting a battle constantly to make sure we’ve got enough players. However, we’ve got to remain optimistic, because we’ve got a great set-up here,” said Bytheway.

“We haven’t historically had the infrastructure – there are two football clubs in Pirbright that play outside the village because facilities haven’t been good enough – but we’re hoping that the youth programme that we’re introducing for cricket will be fully operational at the beginning of next season (bringing in more players).”

In conjunction with these efforts – the club are also running an inaugural colts event on the 27-28 August – the pavilion will be a centrepiece for daily life in Pirbright, as Bytheway explained. “It’ll be the hub of the community and available to all Pirbrighters,” he said.

“There’ll be a cafe, which will be a great help for the people locally. 500 kids come to school in Pirbright every day, and when the children are dropped off, the mums have got nowhere to go to have a coffee. Hopefully they’ll come in here. I would love to see it open seven days a week, nine hours a day.”

For the full story, see the 27 June edition of the News & Mail

REVENGE always tastes sweeter when a local rival is involved, so Byfleet Buccaneers had every reason to enjoy their win over Woking & Horsell Lions in Sunday’s Surrey Slam encounter.

Less than two weeks earlier, it had been the Lions who won comfortably – by six wickets – when the sides clashed in the competition’s midweek NW Region Group B.

Byfleet Buccaneers, purple, and Woking & Horsell Lions line up before their latest encounter in the Surrey Slam

The teams were up against each other again at Brewery Road, this time in the Sunday league, which has been added after the runaway success of the Slam’s inaugural summer.

This time, Byfleet inserted their hosts and kept them down to a modest 116-8, which might have been considerably fewer but for the generous donation of 24 extras. Woking & Horsell owed much to Ali Khan’s 30, lifting them from 45-4 with the help of skipper Elliott McPherson, opener Lloyd Siebert having made 19 earlier. There were three wickets apiece for Andy Pelling and Matt Rannie.

Woking & Horsell Lions’ captain Elliott McPherson hits out

Buccaneers didn’t hang about scoring their runs either, knocking them off in 12.3 overs thanks to Sam Coyne (42) and George Mickley (40), both falling to Khan near the end.

“The new Sunday Slam competition is a great chance for cricketers who can’t spare the time to play on Saturday. For us it’s a different line-up from the midweek league side and there are five Sunday games, so it’s a good challenge for everyone,” said Neil McPherson, the Lions team manager.

For the full report get the 23 May edition of the News & Mail

FAMOUS FACES - the Bunbury side that beat Chobham

FAMOUS FACES – the Bunbury side that beat Chobham

JOHN SALAKO and Joe Kinnear are not names usually synonymous with the game of cricket.

In fact the former England winger, and the ex-Wimbledon and Newcastle manager are much more at home in front of a rumbling terrace or entrenched in a dugout than they are perched on a crease awaiting the delivery of a 90mph yorker.

But Salako (below) and Kinnear ­traded in their boots and shin pads for the old leather and willow last week as the ­famous Bunbury team smashed Chobham for six.

The celebrity XI tour the country to help raise funds for grass-root clubs and their affiliated charities.

And they made short work of the village outfit, eventually securing a comfortable victory by a 22-run margin.

Club president John Goldsmith described the day as a wonderful success and thanked the all-stars team for creating such a memorable encounter.

He said: “It was a great day and a very jolly evening all round.

“We were a bit worried in the morning because the weather didn’t look promising but by the time we got underway we were bathed in golden sunshine.

“We ended up a bit short in the run chase but the game was played in great spirit and some of the quality on show was just brilliant.”

The celebrity outfit went to bat first and chalked up 175-7 before Chobham were bowled out for a brave 152.

Emma Bradley – Miss GB 2004 – added a touch of glamour to proceedings and delivered the opening ball, while the professional class of Northamptonshire pair Alex Wakely and Ben Howgego gave the audience something to savour.

The Phelps brothers, Oliver and James, better known for their roles as Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter series, sprinkled a touch of magic on what turned into a glorious afternoon of cricket.

Sir David English MBE, founder of the Bunburys, also donned his pads and gloves before raving about the continued success of a team that has raised more than £15million for charity over 26 years.

He said: “It was a sensational day – we couldn’t have assembled a more maverick group of individuals if we tried. We’ve got the Weasley twins in their whites alongside an ex-manager of the crazy gang. You don’t see that sort of thing anywhere else.

“When people contact me about a game  my decision is almost instinctive – it’s the smallest charities that often need the most support and it’s fantastic we can give something back.

“That’s why I started the Bunbury side. That doesn’t mean we don’t want to win. By hook or by crook we want to come out on top – as long as it’s done with a smile.”

In 609 fixtures, ­the Bunburys have lost just seven times.

The match – boosted by auctions and raffles – raised more than £3,000 for the village club and the English Schools’ Cricket ­Association.

John added: “We are very pleased with the amount raised. To promote youth cricket both at grass root and elite level is truly wonderful and we are proud to be ­involved in such a setup.”