AB de Villiers spotted in an unusual place (helping get cricket back into London’s parks and commons)

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Ged Ladd writes…

The four London-based counties (Essex, Kent, Middlesex and Surrey) have formed a charity, the London Cricket Trust. Our mission: to put cricket back into London’s parks and commons. I am the Middlesex Trustee for the charity.

We opened seven facilities last season and are opening 12 this season. Next season we’ve planned to do another 30 or so. The ECB is providing dosh, equipment and lots of know-how.

AB de Villiers is a great supporter of this sort of thing and he very kindly agreed to front our media launch this year. 

So on the day he flew in from South Africa, AB de Villiers opened a non-turf pitch facility in Deptford Park.

Deptford Park is in Lewisham, a London borough with lots of young folk who might love cricket but with very few facilities.

I was asked to give a short “Trustees’ speech” while Leisha Hawkins from the ECB was asked to speak on behalf of the ECB. Less than 48 hours after England won the Cricket World Cup, the timing of this launch was immaculate…

… but for the fact that I still virtually “can’t spake” and Leisha described her voice as “like a 50-year-old-man’s voice.” (What’s wrong with such a voice?)

I met AB de Villiers. He’s a really nice chap.

AB got to play with the children as wicket-keeper.

Last year, when AB wasn’t there, I got to play as wicket-keeper with predictably hilarious results.

AB’s results weren’t that much less hilarious than mine, frankly.

Still, despite me being dropped from the playing team this year, still I had a wonderful time. I get such a huge buzz out of seeing these facilities go in and watching young people enjoying using them. Just imagine how I might have turned out if I’d had proper non-turf pitches to play with back then, rather than the vagaries of Tooting Bec Common in the 1970s.

BBC London News gave our charity three minutes on the early evening news – that’s not bad. No doubt there’ll be subsequent press too; there were plenty of press hounds there.

AB’s Instagram account had over 200,000 likes within a few hours of him posting about the event. I find it hard to get my head around numbers like that. Huge numbers.

When I got home, I encountered a tourist couple with baggage coming out of a brand new apart-hotel in my street. I didn’t realise the place had opened yet.

I asked them about the new facility, recognised their Kiwi accents and discovered that I was talking to the father of the New Zealand cricket team’s coach. I suppose he must be Gary Stead’s dad, David Stead. I suppose that’s another cricketer spotted.


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Is this a match report? Comments on ABdV’s performance sound like you could be mentioning the cricket.

    Great cause Ged.

    1. It’s okay if it’s an amateur game and despite the presence of a professional, we believe this was.

  2. Terrific, Ged. As an antiques dealer and with my love of cricket, I’m always drawn to photographs of cricket teams from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, most of which land up on my walls at home, including a marvelous framed photograph of ‘The Hearne XI.’ However, a couple of years ago I sold two emotive photos of youngsters playing cricket in a park in london , c.1910. I think it was in Battersea. I remember at the time thinking , ‘ What a shame this isn’t going on now.’ All the best with this great project. I look forward to hearing more about it.

    1. Do you specialize in cricketana (if that is such a thing) Edwardian? I fancy that sort of thing myself… do you have a website or such modern selling methods?

      1. ‘Fraid not, Bradders. I sell out of an antiques centre in Ely, Cambridgeshire. Instagram is sonetimes handy as its a free platform. Pond yachts, flags,colonial, enamel signs, Edwardian pieces. I always go for old Wisdens, cricket team photos, antique bats etc, if they come up.

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