There was a time when the summer months would see cricket
front and centre of the national press – both broadsheet and tabloid – while the
domestic and recreational game would be covered broadly in local papers up and
down the country.
Young and old would rush to the newsagent on the designated
day of the week to pick up the paper and see their name in lights.
One of the motivating factors on a Saturday – hopefully
this wasn’t just me – was to know the threshold of performance that would make
the report writer stand up and take notice. Celebrate a fourth or fifth wicket
and you weren’t just making your name in the scorebook, you were potentially
writing your own headlines in whichever paper covered your league matches. High
Those days, sadly, have passed.
Now club cricket has to rely on online platforms such as
Play Cricket to truly celebrate the heroes of the recreational game. The lack of
a match report, though, fails to give any context to the eventual
It’s a situation that doesn’t look like changing anytime
soon with circulation figures for the local press in terminal
cricket just isn’t a priority, particularly with more and more content going
online,” one of the
local sports editors tells the Club Cricket Conference newsletter. “Sadly, it’s
all about click bait now. The market for local sports and recreational cricket
in particularly is getting smaller and smaller. Publishers would now bracket it
That may or may not be the case, but for generation after
generation of cricketers that local coverage was crucial, not just the club
itself but also for the companies who sponsored them and enjoyed seeing their
logos emblazoned on club shirts or boards around the ground.
Now, at a time when money is tight in the club game, those
companies that plough their money into club cricket get fewer eyeballs than
some areas, journalists are taking up the cause on their own. In the south, for
example, Mike Vimpany,
who worked for the Southern Evening Echo for decades from the early 1970s, keeps
local cricket lovers in Hampshire up to date with the action on his
the Crease’ website.
fact it receives roughly 1600 hits a day shows that the appetite for local
cricket news is still there.
“There was a time when a paper like the Hampshire Chronicle
would have three photographers,” he says. “They would be sent out on a Saturday
afternoon to snap a few pictures. Now there are none.
“Are clubs being more innovative in the way they cover
their matches and in the way they attempt to drive publicity? I’d have to say
no. There are a few clubs who will routinely send in match reports – clubs like
Fair Oak, New Milton and Lymington – but generally that’s no longer the
content for the Hampshire Chronicle, the Salisbury Journal and the Basingstoke
Gazette but that is all done off his own back. The help he receives from the
clubs is limited. And although Play Cricket does the recreational game a
fantastic service, it doesn’t provide the kind of information that players
involved in the game are privy to.
Burton at South Wilts is having a fantastic season and on Play Cricket a few
weeks back it showed that he had taken three late order wickets,”
“But it didn’t tell me that he had taken a hat-trick – thats the kind of
crucial information you miss if you’re either not at the game or you’re not
receiving a match report from someone involved.”
With Vimpany bolstering
local coverage of the sport in Hampshire, Steve Bone – formerly of the
Portsmouth News – is also providing coverage from Chichester and across the
a pattern doubtless mirrored elsewhere. But when the likes of Vimpany and
Bone call it a day, will anyone be on hand to carry on their
very doubtful,” says Vimpany.
“When I call it a day I
can’t see anyone taking on the website or providing coverage of local cricket in
another way. When I started, if you were a local cricketer, you weren’t just
well known at your club, you were well known across the whole of the local area.
And a big reason for that is that your face would be plastered across the local
newspaper once or twice a week.
“That’s something that we’ve lost in this
The evidence would suggest that it’s gone for