Cricket continues to thrive in south-west France with a new club from Nîmes playing in the Blevins Franks ACCSO South-West League next season, joining Midi Cricket Club as the second team in the Languedoc.
“This is great news,” said new Midi Cricket Club President Reg Gratton. “They will be sharing our ground at Pouzolles next season before they get their own ground in Nîmes, so there will be more matches to come and watch.”
Midi CC has for many years existed as the only active club in the area with Toulouse CC the closest team in the southern pool of the ACCSO League. The club moved from its ground in St Pons de Mauchiens to Pouzolles three years ago.
Gratton is confident that another club in the area will further enhance interest in cricket and attract more playing members and supporters.
After a fairly disappointing season in 2019, Midi are looking forward to a league campaign next year which will involve five teams in two pools – northern and southern – with each group playing home and away. The winners of each group play a one-off final. Midi will be in the southern group, with Catus, Toulouse Bears, Toulouse Wolves, and newcomers Nimes.
The league season begins on Sunday, 26 April, with Nîmes playing Midi at Pouzolles but the club are hoping to arrange a friendly against them some time in early April ahead of the start of the league campaign.
In his review of the past season, retiring President James Luckes told the Annual General Meeting in late November that the unexpected departure of three players for professional/personal reasons – including the Vice-Captain Naeem Abbas – left Midi unable to fulfil any of the return fixtures.
It also caused the club’s withdrawal from the cup/plate competition. In all, Midi played a total of eight matches in 2019: four league matches, winning three and losing one; two competitive T20s, winning one and losing one; and two friendlies, winning one and losing one. After winning their first three league matches and sitting on top of the southern pool table, Midi finished the season second from bottom.
As for friendlies in September and October, bad weather reduced an intended two-day fixture against Clapham in Cricket to a T20, which on the day was further reduced to a 16 overs-a-side game. In difficult conditions, Midi secured a dramatic win off the final ball. The following weekend, in perfect weather, Midi hosted Greystones CC from Ireland, who proved to be strong opposition. Two other planned friendlies, against Lobsters CC from the UK, and Andorra, were cancelled as neither Lobsters nor Andorra had enough players.
Looking ahead to the 2020 campaign, James Luckes told the AGM that Midi had to step up recruitment in the close season and would be running a promotion through expat websites to get more members.
The AGM elected Reg Gratton as the new President, Mark Hayden as the new Secretary to replace Gratton while Dom George remained Treasurer and club Captain. Ken Miller was re-elected as the club Vice-President.
In his report to the AGM, Reg Gratton highlighted that umpiring had become a serious problem with the number of qualified umpires dwindling and aging and threatening the very existence of competition in 2020. Midi were fortunate in having two qualified umpires and would hopefully add two more to the list with new Secretary Mark Hayden and Chris Drommett agreeing to go on the ACCSO umpires’ course early next year.
Gratton thanked the outgoing President James Luckes for his role at the helm of the club over the last three years. He had added a whole new dimension to the club, particularly in his overseeing of the move to Pouzolles which could so easily have heralded the club’s demise. His legacy would not only be the new strip which he personally supervised including the buying and delivering of the sand, cement, lime and gravel but also the erection of what are now called the Luckes Sightscreens, almost Heath Robinson in design but hugely effective. The two mowers also owed him a debt for their longevity.