Downham Stow making their mark out in the wilderness
During the Second World War, airfields were constructed throughout Norfolk and East Anglia, away from centres of population but close to railway stations.
Lakenheath, Massingham, Raynham and Fransham to name but a few.
In the earlier age of the great country houses, landowners forced the new railway lines to be diverted and stations built. Audley End, Holkham and Narborough all have stations nearby.
They also have cricket pitches. Up to the Second War, village cricket centred round the great houses.
The money came from slavery and coal mining. The matches were generally based on gambling and cheap labour.
It was a pretty sight on the surface. Those who didn’t come on foot or by bicycle arrived by train. Can someone please divert a train line to Stow?
It is not an easy place to reach. It is four miles from Downham station. A couple of days’ research suggests a bus route in the direction of Stow.
You have to walk the last couple of miles from Stow Bridge along one of Europe’s more dangerous roads but given reasonable luck you will make it. But can a youngster get there at all by public transport? Or a spectator?
This is not the fault of the club, who since the merger have Downham’s facilities as well. They are happy with the merger and on Tuesday's have up to 50 turning up for coaching.
Stow is a beautiful place to play cricket and standards are high.
But this week it is a credit to the nation that anyone turns up at all. Are they mad? The biting wind whipped round the short and curlies.
Today’s game was a pre-season friendly. Because of last year’s lock down, many cricketers have not really played for two years and practice was seriously needed.
In addition, Bradenham have gone up to division two of the league and need to assess their abilities. Downham Stow are in the first division and need practice that is taxing but not too serious.
Both sides treated the match in the right spirit. No one got too many runs and not many got too few. It would be invidious to mention too many names.
It might also be inaccurate because your correspondent was so cold that he left before the end. Not quite the spirit of Stalingrad.
Downham’s opening a attack was fast and hostile and took classic wickets with swing both ways and boundary fielders were happy to talk to spectators.
Each side had a hat-trick ball, but why does any bowler find it so hard to bowl at the stumps on a hat-trick?
Downham Stow were in trouble at 6-93 with the wicket looking slow. They recovered to 185 in their 45 overs.
Bradenham were on 80-7 when your frozen reporter went off to look for a bus and were eventually all out for 102.
Names like Rory, Sam, Jamie, Sharpie and Dom permeated the ground. Next time we will investigate whom they all belonged to.
Scores: Downham Stow 2nd XI 185ao (41.5 ov: Addam Todd 33) v Bradenham 102ao (30.1 ov: Chris Sharp 3-15).