Francis Maude: delight at proud day for village club

Horsham MP Francis Maude
Horsham MP Francis Maude

Cricket has always been at the heart of the British way of life. As Bill Shankly famously said of football, it’s not a matter of life and death. It’s much more important than that. That’s how I feel about cricket.

So it was a huge pleasure to accept Broadbridge Heath Cricket Club’s invitation to open its refurbished clubhouse which - as I mentioned in this column in January – was made possible by the club securing a £50,000 Olympic Legacy grant from Sport England’s Inspired Facilities fund, courtesy of the National Lottery.

Keen to see the results of all the planning and hard work which has been going on ever since, I was delighted to be shown round the improved facilities by club chairman, Tim Wells.

He sees this as a major step in the continuing development of the club following on from the recent promotion of both men’s league cricket teams and increased partnerships with the village tennis and stoolball clubs plus local schools.

Both the club and visitors will benefit from enlarged and upgraded changing rooms, new showers, toilets and hot water system.

And of course the London 2012 Inspire mark – celebrating the link with the history making London Games – will always be a proud distinction for the club.

As Sport England’s chair, Richard Lewis, said of the National Lottery’s investment in helping to deliver a lasting sporting legacy in West Sussex: ‘This is the legacy that people want for their local community’.

A classic English village cricket club in all its traditional splendour.

And a great treat for me to put on my faded whites and ancient pads to open the batting for the President’s Eleven; and during my half hour stint at the wicket hear the joyful shout from the boundary as England won the first Ashes Test!