A special cricket club visited by Sachin Tendulkar and Sir Richard Hadlee is set to mark 150 not out with a birthday party day in Hitchin
- Credit: Archant
Members of a cricket club whose ground has been graced by a string of famous faces over the years have been reminscing about some of the highlights as they prepare to welcome players past and present for a 150th anniversary celebration tomorrow.
Hitchin Cricket Club has been playing games at Lucas Lane since the 19th century and there are already plans in place to secure its long-term future. A sale of a small portion of land will help fund a new clubhouse, an artificial pitch and improvements to the cricket ground and facilities. This flourishing community club also runs a hugely popular kids coaching session on Sunday mornings, attracting hundreds of keen youngsters and their parents.
Although the club dates back to 1866, the first recorded game at the ground was in 1877 when Herts played Essex. The club can trace its modern history back to cricket-mad Hitchin stalwart John Barker.
A prisoner of war during the Second World War after being captured at the fall of Singapore, he returned in 1946 and a year later he and others who survived clubbed together to buy the Lucas Lane site.
Indeed, the existing clubhouse – soon to be replaced – is actually an army hospital building they commandeered in peacetime. John was president for more than three decades and also gave his name to John Barker Place on the Westmill estate.
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In 2008 Indian cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar – adored by millions of fans on the sub-continent and beyond – gave up his time to help coach youngsters.
Chairman Ian Miles recalled: “He was the most inspirational cricketer I’ve ever met.
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“He was modest, personable, gracious, dedicated and honest – and he loved the game. He was very complimentary towards us, praising the dedication of our volunteers and of our teams playing in the right spirit.
“He was a complete gentleman.”
New Zealand cricketing superstar Sir Richard Hadlee was another legendary name, playing at Lucas Lane in 1994 when the Kiwi Test cricket team started a tour of England with a benefit match against Hitchin.
Chairman Ian Miles said: “We’ve had some great players visit over the years.
“Our planned celebrations for the 150th anniversary are well advanced. We’re looking forward to seeing plenty of our past players and officials at lunchtime, to be joined by our current players, our junior’s parents and other guests in the evening. It’s going to be a wonderful day.”
Club stalwart and welfare officer Chris Maylin added: “We’re really looking forward to the event.”
The former players’ buffet lunch starts at 12 noon on Saturday, with an evening barbecue for all members, current and former players, colts and parents. The bar will be open from midday until late.
For more information about the club and how to get involved visit hitchin.play-cricket.com.