Saffron Walden Cricket Club's long-standing groundsman has picked up another prize for the quality of his playing surface.

Graham Sneath took the title of Best Kept Playing Fields for an Essex Cricket Ground in 2022 and after another long and hard summer of work, he has retained his crown.

And Sneath, who has been in his role for more than 10 years at the Anglo-American Playing Fields, says the honour makes up for a narrow defeat elsewhere.

He said: "It softens the blow as I lost out to Copdock by only half a point in the best pitch in East Anglia award this week.

"But it is an achievement in itself to win this two years on the bounce and I'm so happy that Walden continues to see the best cricket around on the best pitch around.

"Thank you to everyone who has helped me and to the Essex Playing Fields Association."

The club's senior players have started their own preparations for the summer with the launch of pre-season.

Captain Tom Rodda said: "It's great to see everyone back, working off the Christmas festivities.

"We offer cricket to all here, from the first XI, who play premier league cricket, to our fourth team who enjoy local junior grade cricket.

"We’re also fortunate to get to practise at the Hertfordshire & Essex Cricket Centre [in Sawbridgeworth]. The facilities are excellent.

"We have it from 8.30am on Sunday and then every Wednesday at 6pm from February 15 until we're ready for outdoor training.

"Anyone keen to join, please come down."

There has been competitive cricket through the winter too with the U12 girls winning their group in the Essex Indoor Countdown Cricket competition.

A spokesman said: "Having never played indoor cricket previously, the girls, after such a successful outdoor season last year, dominated from the first ball they bowled.

"There was great bowling from all the team with notable performances from Sasha Liddell, Poppy Davis and Lorilei Patterson.

"The batting was superb with beautiful straight drives and pull shots from left-handed captain Nancy Rowlandson and some big hitting strokes from Gemma and Kirsty Smethers.

"In one of the matches the girls scored a massive 102 runs to their opponents' 21."

Walden have been involved with women and girls' cricket for 17 years now and with more than 100 players of all ages on their database, they are recognised as hub by Essex County.

To help they have appointed Mark Thompson as director of women and girls' cricket.

He ia level two coach and has coached the women’s squad for the last two years.

His role is to further raise the profile of the sport and ensure there is a smooth transition from the youngest through to the senior ranks.

He said: "I’m looking forward to help strengthen the women and girls' teams further and am excited about the summer of 2023.

"Women and girls' cricket is one of the biggest growing sports in the world and I welcome anyone keen to try to get in contact with the club.

"We run winter sessions on a Wednesday at Dame Bradbury between 6pm and 7pm."

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