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BOLA sponsors the National Village Cup
More than half of this year's 300 participant clubs in 'The Cricketer National Village Cup' are owners and users of BOLA Bowling Machines. A typical example is last year's National Village Cup (NVC) winners, Reed Cricket Club from Hertfordshire.
"We bought our BOLA in 2005, it has been in constant use ever since and it certainly doesn't owe us anything," enthused club secretary Peter G Baker. Reed CC uses their BOLA for indoor and outdoor practice sessions both for grooving stroke play and fielding drills.
Reed field three league sides on Saturdays with the Firsts competing in the Hertfordshire Premier League, the club also has three age-group colts teams and can boast seven ECB qualified coaches.
"We change our actual colts age groupings to suit the number of players of specific ages that we have in any one season," explains Peter. "We are lucky in being situated close the Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire border which allows us to always find competitive cricket for our youngsters in one or other of the leagues."
Reed CC has been ever present in the NVC having participated in the inaugural event in 1972. The Cricketer Magazine has administered the NVC since its inception and this year's competition begins with regional fixtures and ends, as all other NVC competitions have, with a final at Lord's in September.
"Reed won the competition in 2012 and 2017," says Peter, "so we are all hoping to make it three victories this year."
Supporting Ladies Cricket in Wales
One of the most intriguing fixtures thrown up by the regional round of fixtures will be between Cresselly Cricket Club and Carew Cricket Club in Pembrokeshire. Carew created national headlines when they declared on 18-1 to win the Pembrokeshire League last season by denying Cresselly the opportunity to gain enough batting and bowling points to overhaul them!
"That's all old news now," says Cresselly CC chairman Richard Arthur. "The two villages are only a mile and a half apart and we are drawn against them every year at some point. The players of both teams are friends and there is no ill feeling."
Cresselly's BOLA Machine was purchased in 2003 and has been serviced a couple of times but it is still going strong."Our three senior sides, ladies team and three colts sides all use the BOLA on a weekly basis," explains Richard. "We use it for indoor and outdoor nets and extensively for fielding training."
"Some of the clubs best batsmen have progressed through our colts sides so they have been using the machine for as long as they have been playing," said Richard.Cresselly have six qualified coaches which includes two ladies. Cricket Wales has been very active in promoting ladies cricket and sponsored a 'Women's and Girls Softball Tournament' last year which included an event at Cresselly which attracted eight local sides.
Cricket in Cornwall ever since 1888
One of the oldest clubs taking part in this year's National Village Cup is Gulval Cricket Club near Penzance in Cornwall. Gulval played their first game in 1888 and have been members of the Cornish Cricket League for over 80 years.
They bought their BOLA Machine in 2001 and it has been overhauled twice but is still used regularly by all club members both for indoor and outdoor nets. Gulval turn out two Saturday League sides, a T20 team on Sundays and play regular friendly fixtures.
"Every one at the club has access to the Bowling Machine," explained club secretary Roger Searle. "It is excellent for grooving problem shots and sorting out weaknesses in a batters game."
At the other end of the UK geographically, BOLA owning NVC clubs are represented by Falkland Cricket Club in Perthshire. They joined the Village Cup in 2015 and reached the last sixteen, being knocked out by the eventual runners-up Sessay CC from Yorkshire, in 2017.
Falkland's first-team currently play in the Strathmore and Perthshire District Union having recently moved down from Nation League of Scotland. They bought their BOLA Machine in 2014 and it is a major part of their plans to return to Nation League cricket.
Building the club from within
"Our clubs key focus is on our juniors members," explained Paul Watson, one of Falkland's three-vice presidents. "We have about 80 junior members at the club and we fully recognise that they are the future. We intend to build the club from within."
"Our third team on a Saturday is made up of seven or eight youngsters along with a handful of senior player," he said. "We also field four junior sides mid-week and all the juniors have access to the Bowling Machine and our full-time coach."
Falkland CC field three Saturday sides and a Sunday development side also made up mostly of youngsters. The clubs professional coach is ex-Sri Lankan first-class all-rounder Harsha Kooray.
"Harsha is a terrific coach," said Paul. "We play a lot of cricket on slow, low wickets in Scotland and Harsha uses the machine to improve front foot play throughout the club. He also spends a lot of time with the youngsters concentrating on playing shots off the legs, he regards this as a major weakness in British cricket."
We play a lot of cricket on slow, low wickets in Scotland and Harsha uses the machine to improve front foot play throughout the club. He also spends a lot of time with the youngsters concentrating on playing shots off the legs, he regards this as a major weakness in British cricket.
During the 2017 National Village Cup BOLA offered participating clubs an exclusive discount on Bowling Machines (and will be doing the same for the 2018 event). One of the first beneficiaries was Linton Park Cricket Club in Kent who have taken part in the Village Cup since its inception and have twice been winners in 1978 and 1999.
"We have used the machine at winter indoor nets to great success so far. It is important for the batters to work on 'getting their eye in' early in the season with our NVC campaign starting late April. The machine also allows the batters to work on the same shots repetitively or even different shots to the same ball. The machine has also been used for fielding practice and especially for wicket-keeping practice," explains Sunday First Team Captain Josh Knowler.
All the club's senior and junior players have access to the BOLA for both training and warming up before games. Linton Park's under 13 side reached the last 16 of the ECB Cup last year. "This is another reason we have chosen to invest in a BOLA bowling machine, to make sure these age groups are reaching their potential and most importantly enjoying their cricket," said Josh
TO READ stories from issue 21 of BAT & BALL Spring 2016