Howzat for a comeback as Etherley Cricket Club takes to the field after two-year absence (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Howzat for a comeback as Etherley Cricket Club takes to the field after two-year absence
A VILLAGE cricket club which hit rock bottom when its senior side folded two years ago is to take to the field again.
Etherley CC once boasted international stars such as Indian opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan and West Indian Gareth Breese, who has spent the last 10 years with Durham CCC, among its ranks.
However, an early run of heavy defeats in the Durham County League combined with dwindling interest saw the club fold in May 2011.
The first steps to re-establishing the club on the local cricket scene will be taken when a senior Etherley side plays an end of season friendly fixture against Bishop Auckland's King James on Sunday, September 22.
John Raw, Etherley CC youth development officer, said a small group of volunteers had ensured cricket did not disappear from the village for good.
Initially, he said it was decided to concentrate on building up a well supported junior section.
This has seen under-11 and under-13 teams competing this season and next year the club plans to launch an under-15 side as well.
Mr Raw said the return of the senior side for the friendly match was ahead of schedule.
“When we first got together after hitting the low point in 2011, we had a five-year vision,” he said.
“This included a senior side playing again, beginning with a season of friendly fixtures in 2014 with a view to applying for league status once again after that.
“To be playing this fixture a full eight months ahead of schedule is really putting down a marker.”
The return of senior cricket to Etherley is a welcome boost for the club, which has seen two bids for cash to improve facilities turned down this year.
Efforts to secure money via the Sport England Inspired Facilities Olympics legacy fund have failed, leaving the club with no alternative but to make best use of the crumbling 100-year-old changing rooms at the village's Miners Welfare Trust ground.
However, Mr Raw said he hoped it would be third time lucky, with another bid planned in an effort to secure the cash needed for the improvements.
“Although our most recent bid for a new pavilion was unsuccessful we have been told which areas we were weak in as part of the process.”
He said a meeting was planned later this month to work on a new application for a grant.
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