YOUTH organisers, team secretaries, a scorer and a volunteer maintenance man are among Devon’s nominees for this year’s NatWest OSCAS.
The OSCAS – it stands for Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards – are the ECB’s way of staying ‘thank-you’ to the unsung heroes of the game.
Devon will be sending six nominees to Lord’s next month for the annual OSCAS awards lunch.
Without youth league chairman such as Chris Partridge, youngsters don’t get the exposure they need to competitive cricket at an early age.
If it wasn’t for people like Mark Edmonds, clubs like Kingsbridge would face bills running into thousands of pounds for maintenance and repairs every year.
And dedicated team secretaries such as Torquay’s Ken Jeffrey and Whitchurch’s Mark Kerswill make sure teams are fielded and umpire’s booked week in and week out.
Clubs all over Devon have been canvassed for their nominations and the short list whittled down to seven category winners.
Natalie Hunt from Bradninch CC in the Heartbeat of the Club category.
Natalie is the woman behind the new youth section at her club, which has gone from nothing to 30-plus boys and girls in year one.
“Natalie’s efforts though go well beyond simply organising and coaching.,” said her nominee.
“Her efforts have transformed, not only the junior section, but also the club in general.”
Will Pike of Kingsbridge has been put forward in the Young Volunteer section.
The 22-year-old planned and ran a sponsorship campaign that raised £2,000 for the club.
He has found grant-aid sources and saved the club money by designing and producing the fixture card.
Will captains the Sunday XI and has assisted with junior coaching.
The nomination said of Will: “He is enthusiastic, self-starting, friendly and helpful. He is a popular member of the club, and is liked and respected by all.”
Devon’s Lifetime Achiever nominee is Torquay’s man of many parts Ken Jeffrey.
Ken, a 70-year-old retired bank official, played for Cockington Corinthians as a young man and threw himself into Torquay CC in retirement.
There is barely a job at the Recreation Ground Ken hasn’t done – barman, secretary, treasurer, team secretary, colts manager barman – and that doesn’t include being a DACO umpire and a former official of the South Devon Youth League.
In his spare time Ken is the treasurer of the Devon Rugby Football Union.
Chris Partridge, a teacher and cricket evangelist, has been nominated and endorsed by the Devon Cricket Board in the Leagues section.
As chairman of the Wollen Michellmore South Devon League, Chris has expanded the competition during his six years at the helm.
There are all-girls divisions, sections for under-17s and under-19s and his newest innovation – mini-hitters festivals for under nines.
Chris has been a bulwark of youth section at Ipplepen for years – and captained the 3rd XI too.
“A thoroughly deserving volunteer who would be a just recipient of an OSCA,” is the endorsement on his nomination.
Torquay CC’s long-serving scorer Nick Evanson will be representing Devon at Lord’s in the Officiating section.
Nick, a 45-year-old civil servant, has been peering out of the scorebox window at the Recreation Ground for 30 summers.
He has scored more than 500 1st XI league games for Torquay, as well as numerous cup games and other matches.
He reckons he will pass the 1,000-game mark in June 2041!
Nick represents scorers on DACO and has passed the level three qualification. He is no stranger to Lord’s having worked there in 2013 as Duckworth-Lewis manager when Middlesex played Glamorgan as part of his exams.
Marc Kerswill of Whitchurch has been nominated in the Get the Game on category.
Marc – known to friends and rivals as ‘Hammy’- has captained sides, raised sides run the bar and organised fund-raising events.
Last year Hammy led the group that raised around £1,500 for the club – vital revenue for a village team.
“Without Hammy, Whitchurch Wayfarers would be in a very sorry state,” says his nomination. “He is the cornerstone of the club.”
Devon’s last nominee is Mark Edmonds from Kingsbridge, who has been entered in the NatWest Cricketforce section.
Mark, a joiner by trade, has spent hundreds of hours at the club giving them the benefit of his skills and contacts.
A facelifted bar area, remodeled kitchen, new showers and boiler are all down to Mark and his professional friends.
He finds time to work on the ground and keep the clubrooms tidy.
His nomination says: “Thanks to Mark’s hard work, we now have an attractive and welcoming club house which we can use for fund-raising activities.
“Mark will be very embarrassed to be nominated for this award, he hates being thanked, but we all want him to know how much we appreciate him.”
Matt Theedom, the cricket development manager for Devon, said without volunteers like Edmonds and Pike clubs would struggle to survive.
“We are extremely fortunate in Devon to have a thriving volunteer community and the Natwest OSCAs are a fantastic way to recognise the efforts of those who give their time so generously,” said Theedom.
The national winners will be announced at the Lord’s luncheon on October 4.