Dripping Yarns with David Arnold

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As I watched the rain bucketing down at the aptly-named Dripping Pan on Saturday with the unlucky defeat in the game against Leiston seemingly washing away of any real hope of the Rooks escaping relegation, for some reason I found myself thinking of cricket.

Now I’m not a great follower of the game but I do like to keep up with the exploits of Glynde & Beddingham, not least because they took me to Lord’s on a September Sunday in 2009 when I was thrilled to witness their winning the Village Cricket Knock-out Final.

I was pleased and proud, too, that my son-in-law Stuart Mouland was the wicket-keeper that day for the Glynde side.

But I don’t believe musing on the latter was the reason I thought of cricket in the course of Saturday’s inundation.

Rather it was because that as this awful winter continued to deliver moisture and misery on our football season, it was delivering much the same damp and dismal package on the start of the cricket season.

Imagine then if you are able to ply two sporting trades; the first being that of an excellent footballer and the second of someone able to also wield a bat in handy fashion?

Imagine having to endure a Saturday like this week’s and then find your cricket pitch to be not much more than a quagmire on the Sunday.

I don’t believe there are any footballer/cricketers in the current Lewes squad, but there were certainly quite a few in the past.

Club Chairman and Rooks legend Terry Parris remembers some of them: “We had Lewes lad Ralph Cowan who was a 6’5” centre half.

“He’d been an Oxford University Blue in both cricket and football. He once took five wickets for Sussex against a team of touring Australians. Ralph still gets down to the Pan for occasional visits.

“Then there were the Horscroft brothers, Mark and Grant. Played for Lewes but were also very good cricketers. In fact I think they both still play for Fletching. Peter Crees, Graham Pitts (both of Ringmer), Mick Hussey and Terry Stanley (an ex BHA pro) were also all very talented.

“When I played for Lewes we would have a game of cricket in the summer arranged against a local side. I remember John Langridge complimenting me on a catch I made. Though footballers first and foremost, I think we always gave the opposition a good match.”

Perhaps the ultimate football/cricket overlap concerns Doncaster Rovers player Chris Balderstone who also played for Leicestershire. On one particular day in September 1975 he took part in a crucial County Championship match against Derbyshire at Chesterfield. Title-chasing Leicestershire had achieved a first innings score of 226 all out.

Balderstone then played a key role in dismissing Derbyshire for 211. He was 51 not out at the close of play. But there was no time to reflect on his successful day. The moment play finished he raced to a waiting taxi and pulled on his football kit and boots en route to Doncaster where he helped his Fourth Division team to a 1-1 draw against Brentford.

The following morning he went on to complete a century before Leicester declared at 260 for six. Derby’s desperate rearguard efforts were then crushed by Balderstone’s left-arm spin bowling: the home side were dismissed for 140 with five minutes left as Leicester claimed the title.