CRICKET: Two of town’s longest established clubs decide on merger

Oakfield and Rowlands Cricket Club players together for their first winter nets session on Monday evening
Oakfield and Rowlands Cricket Club players together for their first winter nets session on Monday evening

Exciting future as new club will become largest in the area

Two of Rugby’s oldest cricket clubs have an exciting future to look forward to having decided to pool their resources and merge.

Oakfield CC and Rowland United CC, who have been running for 80 and 97 years respectively, have joined forces to form Oakfield and Rowlands Cricket Club for the 2018 season.

The clubs have provided the opportunity to play cricket for hundreds of people from the town over the years, and hope by coming together they can offer that chance to many more local cricketers for decades to come.

Oakfield have been based in Long Lawford since the mid-1960s and Rowlands in the village of Swinford since the mid-1970s.

The clubs have enjoyed a long-standing friendly rivalry over that time in both the Warwickshire League on a Saturday, and the Rugby & District Midweek League.

Last season, their respective 1st XIs competed in Warwickshire Division 4, with honours ending even between the sides with a victory apiece.

Through the merger, they aim to form the largest club in the area, running at senior level four Saturday teams, three midweek teams, a Sunday friendly team and a ladies’ tip and run team.

For juniors, there will be sides at under 11, 13 and 15 level, with Kwik-Cricket and coaching for children from the age of six upwards. By running such a wide number of teams, they can offer opportunities to aspiring cricketers of all levels, from juniors or adults looking to try the game for the first time, to those aspiring to play more competitively.

On the field, the new club hope that with a wider talent pool the 1st XI will be in a position to play higher up the league pyramid, a level of cricket that suits all abilities in the other teams, whilst also providing an opportunity for juniors to enjoy a smooth transition into senior cricket initially in the 3rd and 4th teams.

In junior cricket, by bringing coaches and volunteers together from both clubs, the aim is to offer a safe, well structured environment for

children to enjoy the game and develop their skills.

The club will be headquartered at Oakfield’s ground in Long Lawford, but will have the added advantage of Rowlands’ existing cricket ground in Swinford, meaning all teams will play at a well-established cricket facility.

The club will initially be co-chaired by Rowlands’ Ian Randle and Oakfield’s Stewart Burnett, both of whom have a wealth of experience on and off the pitch in local cricketing circles.

Stewart Burnett, incumbent chairman of Oakfield said of the merger: “We’ve looked at the possibility of doing something together for a couple of years now, and felt now was the right time to do this.

“For juniors, parents are looking for large, well organised clubs where their children can play and develop, and we believe we can offer this.

“At the senior level, we are hopeful that the combined strength of both clubs gives the 1st XI the chance for progression, while the number of senior teams will provide a great opportunity for anyone wishing to play, in particular for juniors making the transition to senior cricket in their teenage years.”

Ian Randle of Rowlands added: “The recent ECB survey shows that the number of players is continuing to fall, by pooling our resources we feel we will be able to offer cricket to players of all standards and hopefully we will be able to reverse this trend.”

Pre-season nets start in earnest on Monday (January 29) at Rugby High School, with school years 4-6 invited from 6pm-7pm, and years 7-10 from 7pm-8pm, where qualified coaches will be on hand to run the session.

For seniors, training takes place immediately after from 8pm-9pm.

The club are keen to attract new recruits in both their junior and senior sections, and also volunteers, so if you are new to the area, fancy a change of scene, or want to give the game a try you will receive a warm welcome.

Those interested can either turn up to these sessions or contact Stewart Burnett on 07968 587452 or Ian Randle on 07984 040654 for more details.

In addition, as a new wide-reaching sporting entity, Oakfield and Rowlands CC are keen to partner with prospective sponsors looking to promote their brand locally, and anyone interested is encouraged to contact Stewart or Ian.