SEEING a Hereford school reach the finals of a national competition was one of the year’s highlights for English Schools Cricket Association chairman Bob Hall.
Bob, pictured inset, who handed out trophies at national competitions, was part of the Bunbury Festival and even had a meal in the Long Room at Lord’s.
But nothing delighted the ex-Hereford Cathedral Junior School teacher more than St Paul’s Primary School’s achievements in the national Kwik Cricket tournament.
“St Paul’s were third in the whole of Britain for Kwik Cricket,” said Bob, who is handing over the ESCA chain of office to Yorkshire’s Adrian Grayson on Saturday.
“It was great to see a Herefordshire team playing in a national final.
“I know the head, Andrew Teale, quite well and I was hugely proud to see a Herefordshire school there.
“I think they wished they could have played outside but the weather wasn’t very good at Leicestershire’s Grace Road that day.
“Their coach was Glyn Harrhy and it highlights the very good work being done by Herefordshire Cricket in coaching the game.”
Bob, who lives in Checkley with wife Penny, has been the first ESCA chairman from Herefordshire.
He took over the position last October and organised a dinner for ESCA members in Ross.
“People came from all over the country and we had a very good speaker in Peter Bowler — the whole dinner went extremely well.
“It has been a huge honour and a privilege to be the chairman and I had a very enjoyable 12-month stint.
“There weren’t too many people who had heard of Herefordshire cricket but I hope I put that right.
“I have done very little speaking during my spell but I attended some national finals. I met some delightful people and I felt I was representing Herefordshire.”
Bob has been secretary of Hereford Schools’ Cricket Association since 1991 and treasurer since 2004.
He started the Herefordshire Under-11 county cricket team in 1986.
Bob said: “I played some cricket for Brockhampton in the mid 1990s with John Jones — I wasn’t a particularly strong player, but I enjoyed it.”
He attended the English Schools Cricket Association’s prestigious Bunbury Festival for under-15 cricketers at Repton in Nottingham.
“The Midlands were the winners of the Bunbury Festival but sadly there were no players in the team from Herefordshire,” he said.
“I believe Joe Crichard was the last player from Herefordshire at the Bunbury Festival a couple of years ago but unfortunately he was injured. “David English is the most wonderful benefactor for ESCA and he pays for all the Bunbury Festival.
“It’s used by ECB as a trial to select the players for the next stage and it would be great to see Herefordshire players there.”
Bob would like to see Herefordshire host the Bunbury Festival.
“You need two very good cricket squares adjacent to one another,” he said.
“It would be lovely for Herefordshire to host Bunbury in years to come but it would need a committed team and the right grounds.”
He hoped more children in the area were playing the sport he loves.
“There’s been a fall out in the number of schools entering the under-11 hard-ball competition.
“In our heyday we had six, seven or eight teams entering - it’s now down to a hardcore of about three.
“There are all sorts of sensible reasons why it’s difficult for primary schools to play hard-ball cricket.
“But if St Paul’s can get through to third place in the country in soft-ball cricket, it can be done if the will is there.”