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Sandringham's success is a closely-guarded secret

There is only one thing in life better than playing cricket on a lovely day in the country: watching cricket on a lovely day in the country.

Sandringham cricket team. (1936165)
Sandringham cricket team. (1936165)

And there is nowhere lovelier than Sandringham (except Barton, according to the visiting supporters).

It is a closely-guarded secret, however.

The entrance holds a big sign saying private and no entry and a very small sign facing the wrong way saying Sandringham Cricket Club.

Half the crowd spent the first hour of the match looking for the ground.

But it is worth persevering, to emerge through thick, shady woods into an ethereal vista of a 19th century cricket ground.

Ghosts of the past surround the scene.

Is Queen Victoria making the scones? Is Prince Albert lurking at short leg? Is that the future King Edward VII sowing wild oats over there in the woods?

Finally, with an ice cream and a packet of Quavers, you settle down to watch.

You snooze gently while other people run about and then the ball is lost in the woods.

Half-heartedly a few players go looking for it. The rest sprawl around. Nothing else happens. It is perfect.

For the players, in case any further incentive is needed to come and play here, Sandringham has always provided the best tea in the league.

Last week all matches in Norfolk were washed out so this was the first Alliance match of the season.

Sandringham skipper Aaron Nicol opened the batting.

He watched and he waited while his batting partner Marcus Ringwood swept and drove like a souped up waste disposer.

It was magnificent to watch but it had to end when Ringwood was on 48.

In came Callum Lee who needed no introduction to the boundary.

Timing the ball like a metronome, he raced to 67 before finally his ambition outstripped reality. It was classy.

The score was now 146 and Nicol was still there.

The longer he remained, the straighter his bat and the faster he batted. He drove at everything but by now he was beginning to sag.

Eventually out for 87 he came, he sat and he took rehydration pills and then he prepared to keep wicket.

Tomorrow he would be fine.

Monday and Tuesday, however, he had written off.

They would be non-days while he tried to persuade the limbs that he was the boss.

In came a brace of Jameses to hurry things along and by the end of the allotted 45 overs Sandringham were on 273.

It was a lot and a good deal more more than Ashmanhaugh managed .

The dreaded Sandringham spin twins, the Ramadhin and Valentine of West Norfolk, saw to their destruction.

Leg spinner Jake Burton and left-armer Chris Smith wove an irresistible web of illusion and temptation.

James Sheldrake hit a brief and violent 24 before being caught on the boundary but the rest were beaten in the air, off the pitch or both and Sandringham won by more than 200 runs.

n Sandringham Cricket Club runs coaching for all ages of boys and girls.

First come the thriving All Stars, the 5-8 year-olds.

This leads to the rest of the junior section which has 25 members and rising.

On Saturday, a 13-year-old came through the ranks to play for the first time for the club second team.

To find out more, ring Damian Hudson on 07931 307220 or visit the Play Cricket website.

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