PIRBRIGHT’S “amazing” new pavilion will be officially unveiled today (Saturday). 

Work began on the clubhouse at The Gardens on the Green last summer.

The official opening will cap what is becoming a very memorable campaign for the villagers, who undertook their first tour in 12 years when they visited Malta in April.

James Thompson, who skippers the first XI in I’Anson Cup Division Two, told the News & Mail: “It’s an amazing facility, something that’s been a long time coming. 

“And it’s making a massive difference already to what the club are able to do both in terms of adult cricket and  junior cricket, which is fantastic.

“For years, this was a really small club, with only 30 to 40 adult male members. 

“And in the past four to five years, it has shifted towards being at the heart of the village. 

“The change is so pleasing to see and super exciting, and this new clubhouse is a massive part of that. I’m delighted to play here.”

Thompson, who was born in Pirbright, began playing senior cricket when he was 13 years old.

He said: “I started playing here in 2004. I’d never played cricket before but fancied coming down and started playing on a Sunday. 

“I’ve been playing every season since then.

“The club are super close to my heart. I couldn’t go anywhere else to play cricket.”

Of being captain, he said: “I massively enjoy getting a  group of people of different ages and backgrounds and getting them all striving for the same thing and having a good time.

“I love cricket so much. But you think you could always be better at it. 

“You never feel you’re nearly at the final point. You always think about what you could’ve done better, whether you’re bowling, batting or fielding. That learning process is huge.”

Pirbright are still happy to welcome new members but have thriving junior and women’s sections and offer walking cricket, a low-impact version of the game aimed at over-50s. 

Lynne White, whose husband and daughters play at the club, took up cricket two years ago. 

White, who hails from South Africa, said: “Post-Covid, it was such a huge thing to have this club. 

“A lot of families were very isolated and it meant a great deal to be able to find a community in cricket. 

“So many people come along to be part of something and then you get involved either by playing or helping with the bar. It’s created a space for people to come to and feel welcome.

“Women’s cricket at Pirbright has grown so much. 

“When we started, there was just a handful of ladies and we had no idea what we were doing. 

“But we went along and realised how much fun it is to come out every Tuesday evening, all of us getting together and having a bit of a throw-around. 

“We have a few coaches who help us out and we’ve gone from strength to strength in ability and numbers. 

“It’s been really awesome – there’s a lovely bunch of ladies, and a lot of our daughters play for the girls’ teams, so we’re kind of leading by example.

“I was more into hockey previously, which has helped with the skills needed. 

“A lot of us didn’t have a clue about cricket, didn’t do hardball, didn’t do any of that.

“But we practised in the nets over the winter because we got quite frustrated with how hard bowling is, and we’re seeing the outcome this summer. 

“We’re know what we’re doing now.”

On being a sporting role model for her daughters, she said: “It’s a really good vibe and it’s nice for both of my girls to see a ladies’ team doing well and actually watch mum be able to catch, throw, bowl and bat and do the whole thing.

“I like batting – I think that’s from the hockey. But I also like fielding. There’s something about being out there and trying to stop the opposition from scoring runs, and that’s quite fun.”

Simon Gurney is a member of Pirbright’s walking cricket team. 

Gurney, who moved to the area as a 15-year-old in 1961, said: “I got roped into the walking cricket by  Derek Bytheway [the club’s late former president and Pirbright stalwart].

“I used to play midweek cricket but I never played club cricket. 

“Derek was one of those people you couldn’t say ‘no’ to. 

“He got lots of people involved and we started walking cricket two years ago. 

“We’re now trying to start playing against opposition. 

“The trouble is, at our age, a lot of people go away on holidays during May, June and July, when we want to play. 

“We’ve got about 20 players on the books here – but we struggle to get eight to ten for a match because people are unavailable.” 

But in Gurney’s opinion, it’s at the junior levels that the club have made the most significant progress. 

He said: “The real change is the kids’ cricket. 

“They’ve got 140 kids who come and they’ve got all age groups for boys and girls. It’s really flourishing.

“There’s such a lovely setting for cricket here.”