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Nothing new about 20/20 cricket

PUBLISHED: 12:08 10 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 07 July 2010

Twenty/Twenty cricket may be thought of as a modern phenomenon - but did you know it was thriving 70 years ago and in its heyday in the 1950s it was being played six days a week?

But forget all the 21st Century TV razzmatazz, with coloured clothing, coloured stumps and theme tunes - it was definitely all white on the night then.

Twenty/Twenty cricket may be thought of as a modern phenomenon - but did you know it was thriving 70 years ago and in its heyday in the 1950s it was being played six days a week?

But forget all the 21st Century TV razzmatazz, with coloured clothing, coloured stumps and theme tunes - it was definitely all white on the night then.

Reader Robert Simpson wondered whether the Dr Fisher Cup, once a mainstay of the summer sporting scene in the Fakenham area - is the oldest Twenty/Twenty competition still going.

This year's Kingsway Tyres-sponsored final is tomorrow evening (Friday July 11) at Highfield Lawn starting at 6.15pm between Hillington and Fakenham.

The competition is thought to date from the mid-1930s. Named after Dr WA Fisher, president of Fakenham Cricket Club from 1921-50, it aimed to give local village teams a chance to sample the quality playing conditions on the Old Baron's Hall Lawn ground.

In the early years 16 sides would do battle on the lush green sward but the number of teams has dwindled to eight but the final will see Hillington taking on host club Fakenham at the impressive surroundings of Highfield Lawn, part of the sports field for the old Fakenham Grammar School once graced by budding England international Peter Parfitt.

Games have been played at Highfield Lawn ever since the Fakenham football and cricket clubs left Baron's Hall lawn for new grounds some 12 years ago.

One former player with fond memories of the Dr Fisher Cup is Robert Simpson, 84. He recalled keenly-contested inter-village games attracting crowds of up to 300. “I remember North Elmham used to have a strong team - they used to have two very good bowlers,” he said.

He recalled one of the highlights of his cricketing career, while turning out for Fakenham Seconds on the Lawn. “It was one of those games where I was seeing the ball very big. I hit a six on the half-volley. The ball went straight to a hollowed out oak tree and as it dropped in a barn owl flew out.”

But if he was expecting praise for his masterstroke, he was to be disappointed - for the ball could not be retrieved, much to the annoyance of the team skipper. “He said 'that ball cost us 37 and sixpence'. It was the most memorable shot I ever played.”

Among the many other competitions played in the Twenty/Twenty cricket hotbed of west, north and mid Norfolk in the golden days of the 1950s and early 60s were competitions for farm workers and traders at the Creakes, the prestigious West Norfolk (Harrowing) Cup and the BA Smart Cup at Jentique and Metamec at Dereham which featured famous Metamec clocks as trophies.

Around the Highfield Lawn ground last weekend cricketers who remembered the prime days of village cricket in the Fifties and early Sixties recalled a plethora of limited overs games played on summer evenings.

The competition at Houghton ended with a final played in front of Houghton Hall, and at nearby Rudham there was an annual competition for farm workers.

Holt used to stage the Rothermere and Invitation competitions, there was the Jack Smith Cup at Hindringham, the Stibbard Band Cup, the Turner Cup at Bircham, the Roy Wood at Marham, the Allcock at West Acre, Gallyon at Sandringham, Hancock at Grimston, and competitions at RAF West Raynham, Sharrington, Barney and Thornham.

It was pattern no doubt repeated county wide when most villages fielded cricket and football teams.

Hillington reached tomorrow night's final by making 246-3 (Sean Fisher 118) against Mattishall (152-6) in their semi-final.

Fakenham limited West Norfolk to 149-8 then made 150-0 with both Robert Preston and Robert Minns making big half-centuries.

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