Former England stars Panesar and Clarke set to help Bedhampton Mariners CC celebrate ‘great milestone’ this weekend

Former England internationals Monty Panesar and Rikki Clarke are the star attractions at Bedhampton Mariners CC’s 150th anniversary celebrations this weekend.

By Simon Carter
Thursday, 4th August 2022, 9:09 am
Updated Thursday, 4th August 2022, 9:09 am

They will both be guesting for a Bedhampton XI against a team comprising former players at the Hampshire League club on Sunday.

The 40-overs a side friendly starts at 11.30am at Bedhampton’s Bidbury Mead HQ, following a coaching class given by Panesar and Clarke to the club’s All Stars youngsters.

A presentation ceremony to former Bedhampton players follows the match, before Panesar and Clarke complete their day with a Q & A session.

Ashes winner Monty Panesar is heading to Bedhampton Mariners this Sunday to help with the Mariners' 150th anniversary celebrations. Picture: Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Sunday’s event has been organised by Mariners chairman Chris Thomas, who has been associated with the club since 1967. Indeed, he is the only person at the club who was present when the centenary was honoured with a Cricket Week in 1972.

Half a century ago, the main match was a fixture between Bedhampton’s 1st XI and the England women’s team, captained by the legendary Rachel Heyhoe-Flint.

‘One hundred and fifty years is a great milestone,’ Thomas told The News.

‘When we had our Centenary week, the club had only just started playing league cricket - the Hampshire League was formed in 1972.

Former England all-rounder Rikki Clarke will be at Bedhampton Mariners this Sunday to help with the club's 150th anniversary celebrations. Picture: Steve Bardens/Getty Images

‘As a young boy I actually played in the Cricket Week, so I wanted to make this (150th anniversary) a bit of a celebration so I rallied the club.

‘I took it upon myself to get the event up and running - maybe it could be my legacy to the club.

‘We couldn’t stretch to a week, but I wanted to pull together players who once played for the club to make it a special event.

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Flashback - Bedhampton, 2004. Back (from left): Chris Thomas, John Beacham, Martyn Hovey, Gary Layman, Gary Phillips, Chris Grayson. Front: Gary Clark, Ben Silva, Chris Hovey, Dan Clark, John McCoy.

‘We want to celebrate the 150 years, but more importantly thank the many people who have played for the club in the past 50 years where possible.’

Thomas, who will be umpiring this Sunday’s 40-over game, was appointed Bedhampton’s 1st XI captain in 1989.

‘In my first year we won the South East Division 1, and for 10 years we had a competitive side and won a number of leagues in the Hampshire League.

‘We went on to have a number of years in County Division 1, but the pandemic really affected the club.

Flashback - Bedhampton, 2011. Back (from left): Alex Gardner, Simon Hooley, David McFawn, Chris Thomas, Jack Young, Brad Mengham, Martyn Hovey. Front: Ricky Harding, Dan Clark, Stuart Gardner, Ben De Jong, Greg Hoolihan. Picture: Sarah Standing

‘Apart from a lack of games, some players stepped away and focussed on their families or other things. We lost a number of members, so we took a decision to reduce the number of teams.’

In 2019, Bedhampton fielded four teams on occasions. This year, there are just two. But the 1sts are on ‘the crest of a wave’ at the top of County Division 4 South, winning their opening 12 league games of the season.

Thomas, who has been chairman for eight years, recalled: ‘Before the pandemic I think we had grown a bit too big, and grown a bit too old in terms of the ages of some players. A lot of clubs were going through something similar at the time.

‘Trying to recover our numbers has been a hard task.

‘The only lifeline we have to grow it internally is our colts, but we can’t just rely on organic growth. Sometimes you have to try and encourage other players to join you.

‘That’s what we have done this year, and we’re getting our rewards.’