With a few pieces of content geared around a Disability Cricket theme this week, Andrew Edwards from Chirk Cricket Club shares his experiences of how his involvement in club cricket started and what impact COVID-19 has had on him....
Written July 4th 2020
leaving Manchester United Television in April 2014, I have volunteered, amongst
other places, at a Heritage Trust in my hometown of Wrexham. The first year I
was there, my boss and now cherished mate, Gary Brown could clearly see my long
term love of Cricket and Football history. So, Gary and my sister Melanie
Beckley encouraged me to write a book on the History of Brymbo’s Football and
Cricket clubs, which statistically sold more copies than fifty percent of books
With my interest in local
cricket now blooming, I decided that I would give playing a try. It had to be
for a team that usually didn’t have a full allotment of players. I wanted to
feature most weeks and not be left out after a short spell of this occurring
when I tried junior cricket aged 15. After perusing the scorecards of the North Wales Cricket League during the 2017 season, especially
those near Wrexham, I had a choice of three teams. I contacted Mr Skinner,
Chirk Cricket Club Seconds Captain, as they were one of two teams in Wrexham
short of a full eleven.
We met up in February 2018
in Wrexham and I could clearly see that we had a shared ethos regarding how to
go about playing and behaving in recreational cricket. I had also researched
Chirk and found that they had had experience of autism at the club. So, that
was my decision made. It has turned out to be one of the three best decisions
that I have made in the last five years.
I made my debut at The AAA’s, Holyhead Road against Ruthin Seconds, Monday 28th May 2018 on a very
warm Second Bank Holiday Monday of May in 2018. We batted first rattling up
a score well in excess of 200 in our allotted 40 overs. Being me, I chatted
amiably to those on the sides introducing myself by showing the books that I
have written, including my 2015 memoir entitled “I’ve Got A Stat for You - My
Life with Autism”, whilst openly talking about being autistic. I never believe
that it should be hidden as it creates issues later on for all concerned.
When we fielded, after an
inauspicious start where I dropped a catch, I made amends by taking one others
have deemed memorable. I will never forget the batter’s name was
Upon taking the catch, I
ran around like a mad person a la Imran Tahir. Everyone seemed chuffed for me.
Although I didn’t realise how much until months later. In my second match, I took
the wicket of Richie Samuels of Marchwiel & Wrexham Seconds. I had never
got anyone out in my entire life, even my nephew Louis Beckley when
he was six in the front garden!
four appearances in the 2018 season, we held our annual presentation in
February 2019. Clearly, my catch of Venkatravaghan Sundaram wasn’t
forgotten as I won a trophy for “Champagne Moment” of the season named in
honour of a club stalwart named Dave Kelshaw. I couldn’t believe how
much everyone at the club had recognised me for being me, autism or not. I am
still so proud of this trophy. It makes me emotional just writing and thinking
about it. In 2019, I made ten
appearances for Chirk Seconds, as the club moved into the Shropshire League,
taking five wickets @ 20. I even opened the bowling unexpectedly in our last match at
Lilleshall Thirds. We also won
promotion in our first season in the League. I still haven’t scored a
run but have batted just twice in my fourteen appearances. I hope after the pandemic to achieve this.
I really appreciate the
support of all my team-mates and everyone associated with Chirk Cricket Club,
especially my captain Ian Skinner. He has completely gone out of his way to
make me welcome and a well respected part of the club whilst also having my
role within the team very clearly communicated to me. I felt lost due to
the Coronavirus Pandemic at the beginning as I saw my entire life taken away
from me. I couldn’t process that the Cricket season wasn’t beginning as usual.
It was especially confusing with the lovely weather that we experienced in the Spring.
What has helped, outside
of my strength and conditioning training at
home (10km runs and walks with my
sister Melanie), is being in contact with my team mates. I joined the club group chat and we have a Zoom Quiz every Saturday
evening. This is great fun and I am buzzing
afterwards. This has made me think that whether or not there is any season at all in 2020, I have made peace
with it in about very late April whilst being thankful that myself and all my
loved ones are well.
There will always be other cricket seasons but living,
whilst your loved ones being well and us all being blessed to have our health
are priceless. Nonetheless, it does
seem like there will be just under half a season or so in both England and
Wales. According to soundbites
from the Welsh First Minister it seems distinctly possible this will also be
the case for all Welsh clubs, including those playing in Shropshire like
ourselves at Chirk.