Top ECB chief calls in at Park

John Carr from the ECB could little have realised the drama that would unfold at The Oval later that day as he attended the official opening of Letchworth Garden City s new ground at Fairfield Park. Carr, the former Middlesex opening batsman and now the E

John Carr from the ECB could little have realised the drama that would unfold at The Oval later that day as he attended the official opening of Letchworth Garden City's new ground at Fairfield Park.

Carr, the former Middlesex opening batsman and now the ECB's Director of England Cricket, was one of the guests on Sunday to mark the creation of Letchworth's second ground.

Extensive work has taken place in the last couple of years - backed by grants from the likes of the ECB and Fairfield developers the PJ Livesey Group - to renovate a ground which had previously staged cricket for more than a hundred years before it fell into disrepair.

It has already hosted more than 50 matches this season although Sunday's ladies' match between Letchworth and Twickenham was switched to the main ground due to the British weather.

Letchworth club chairman Colin Chatfield said: "The club are very proud of what has been achieved at Fairfield Park and it gives me great pleasure to see people (from eight-year-olds to senior men and women) enjoying this facility.

"It will serve the club well for many years into the future.

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"We estimate that the total cost of regenerating this ground, taking the funding from our partners plus the volunteer time into account, is close to £200,000."

As well as the ECB, which recognised Letchworth as a Focus club back in 2003, help was forthcoming from the PJ Livesey Group. Their landlords have now agreed to lease the ground and pavilion to the cricket club for 125 years. In addition they renovated the pavilion as their contribution to the project.

Biffaward offered significant support to upgrade and complete the pavilion and cricket equipment including sightscreens to help finish the ground as a playing facility.

The Hertfordshire Community Foundation funded the restoration work carried out on the outfield in September last year.

Mike Arnold, secretary of the Herts County Cricket Association, was also present on the day. The HCCA originally nominated Letchworth to the ECB as a Focus Club candidate and gave valuable assistance with the management of the project through the Community Club Development Fund.

Others thanked by Chatfield were Andy Clarke, the Hertfordshire pitch inspector, Chris Woods, the ECB pitch inspector, and former HCCA secretary Derek Dredge.

Stuart Kenny, director general of the Letchworth GC Heritage Foundation, was also there. Chatfield said the heritage foundation gave the club tremendous support at its main ground in Whitethorn Lane and had taken a keen interest in the Fairfield Park project since its inception

The club's other main sponsors are Foreman Laws Solicitors (Hitchin), Rob Brown Home Improvements and Phillips Digital Services (Letchworth).

Chatfield continued: "Only through the support of these organisations and the commitment of these individuals could we have succeeded in returning this ground back into full cricket use.

"Many members of the cricket club have given huge amounts of time, bringing their skills and hard work to the project as well."

The ground has also been made available for non-Letchworth matches between PJ Livesey and the residents, the HCCA and North Herts district representative and local school matches.

P The wet weather was the only winner for Letchworth's cricketers in the Saracens Herts League on Saturday.

Their only side to even begin were the first XI who made a delayed start at home to St Albans, both sides losing 10 overs from the game.

Skipper Colin Letford won the toss and elected to bat reasoning that the shortened game would put St Albans under pressure in a run chase with limited overs available.

Letford and John Hilliard put on another fifty partnership for the first wicket but they both fell at 62, Hilliard for 37 and Letford for 15.

Richard Walsh and Dave Albon also departed cheaply and there was only just time for Sam Booth to hit two boundaries before the rain came again, finishing the game for good on 76-4.

With St Margaretsbury beating Luton and Town Indians easily, the scramble for the second promotion place got even closer with seven sides now covered by 19 points.

It promises to be a tight finish to the season with Hitchin in the frame as well.

Both of Hitchin's games were a complete washout at the weekend.

Not a ball was bowled at Langleybury on Saturday in the league or at home to Old Albanian on Sunday in the Becker Cup plate quarter-final.

This weekend sees St Margaretsbury visit Lucas Lane on Saturday and the replay of the cup game against Old Albanian on Sunday.

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