FOR Byfleet’s ground manager and part-time player Malcolm Denham, there is a sense of nostalgia to Sunday cricket at Parvis Road. 

Denham, a club legend with more than 1,400 matches for them under his belt, told the News & Mail: “The Sunday team is basically a social team that plays friendlies.

“League cricket on Sundays has died out a little bit. 

“We used to run two sides in a Sunday league back in the 1980s and 1990s, but Saturday is now the dominant day for league cricket. 

“We wanted to run a Sunday side as well, so we keep on doing it with social cricket. 

“You’ll find a lot of clubs don’t even run a Sunday side now. 

“But we play a selection of local and wandering sides that haven’t got their own grounds, and it’s always good for the social side of the club.

“A lot of this year’s Sunday games are repeats from last year. 

“If you get on well with a club, you just renew the fixture.

“We usually start the season with a full calendar of games that have been arranged over the winter. 

“We try to play Sunday fixtures at home. It makes the most of our facilities – and with a lot of the clubs we play not having their own ground, they’re happy to come to us.”

Denham, who joined Byfleet in 1974, was asked about the most memorable teams he had encountered on a Sunday at the club.

He said: “The most fun were some of the West Indian sides – and I’m going back a few years now. 

“There was Arawak, Carnegie and a side called Commonwealth & Caribbean. 

“I don’t know whether they exist any more but they were always great fun. 

“They used to come with their families and bring a goat curry with them. 

“We’re probably talking 1970s, 1980s and maybe 1990s. 

“It was great fun and they played for the enjoyment of the game.”

Of this year’s Byfleet Sunday side, who are captained by former colt Lewis Deven, Denham said: “The team tends to change from week to week. 

“There are a number of players who aren’t available to play on a Saturday so they play Sundays.

“Or if availability is good on a Saturday, there will be people who can’t get a game – so we try to give them a game on the Sunday.”

Would Byfleet consider entering their Sunday side into a league in future?

Denham said: “We’re quite happy at the moment with the social cricket on a Sunday. 

“I suppose we have it relatively easy in that we play at home most Sundays.

“We have one or two away games. But if you get into the leagues, you’re into away matches and I don’t think there’s any appetite for that at the moment.” 

Denham believes that Sunday cricket is a nod to the old days.

He said: “It’s just cricket in the old-fashioned way. 

“Up until the leagues started creeping in during the 1960s and 1970s, every game of cricket was a social game.

“There are lots of people  who would still prefer to play that type of cricket. 

“Others like the competitive league stuff but, fortunately, here we’ve got a mixture.”

One player who enjoys social cricket at Byfleet is Rory O’Connor, who took up the sport last year. 

He said: “Sundays are great because the social side here is really good. 

“I’ve played only a handful of games.  I’m not a cricket player but I play on Sundays just for the fun. 

“The boys are all really nice and everyone is welcoming.”

Asked what it felt like to play his first game of cricket, O’Connor said: “I was nervous but it was enjoyable. 

“This season I opened the batting in my first game and I got 14 runs, which is not great but better than zero, and I got a wicket, so not too bad.” 

He said he does not want to switch to competitive cricket.

“I’ll stick to Sundays – they’re more enjoyable in my eyes,” he said.

Deven, who is enjoying his second season in charge of the Sunday XI, said: “I use it a bit like a feeder team, so any of the youngsters who are looking to progress into adult cricket can get a game. 

“That way they get used to playing that step up or a longer game because they play 20 overs per side in youth matches, whereas on a Sunday we normally play 35 to 40 overs per side.” 

Deven began playing cricket at the club when he was ten years old and is a regular in the Saturday second XI.

He said: “I’ve gone through the colts system, started off playing Sunday cricket and then went into the third XI and then the second XI.

“So what I want to try to do is get some of our youngsters to do the same thing.” 

Of being Sunday skipper, the 24-year-old said: “It’s a challenge I sort of wanted. 

“I wanted to see how I’d get on as captain. And it’s not just about getting the youngsters to come through. 

“We’ve also had a couple of players who’d left when they finished their colts cricket.

“Last year, when I got the captaincy, I convinced them to come and play again.

“Kieran Croall scored his first century, for me, last year. 

“John Harrison has gone on to play for the first XI and he’s been scoring runs there.

“So Sundays are not just about the youngsters. It’s about trying to get as many people as possible a game of cricket.

“And some are playing second and first XI cricket off the back of that, which can only help the club.”