Sedbergh School Director of Cricket Martin Speight on maiden First Class clash
Supporters of Lancashire and Durham, and any other county followers heading to Sedbergh to take in a new first-class venue, will sample the delights of one of cricket’s most “idyllic” settings, according to the Cumbrian school’s Director of Cricket Martin Speight.
A former county cricketer with Sussex, Durham and, briefly, New Zealand state Wellington during a 15-year career between 1986-2001, Speight has seen his fair share of special grounds.
This one, which hosts Lancashire’s home Specsavers County Championship clash with Durham from Sunday, will be right up there.
Speight said: “Sedbergh is situated in the middle of the Howgill Fells. So on all sides, we’re surrounded by 500m fells. The main one, Winder, is right behind the ground. It’s absolutely idyllic and very much rivals Arundel Castle and Worcester in my view.
“We’re delighted to have the fixture, and personally it’s nice that your school, ground and facilities are deemed good enough.
“Having played at lots of first-class grounds across the world, it’s really nice to have a new one that I’m part of.
“We have very close links with Lancashire, Durham and Yorkshire. We’re in the middle of all three. It’s good that from two of the counties quite a few of our pupils come from are involved in the game.”
Speight has been at Sedbergh for nine years and was the cricket professional until a promotion last year. He also has involvement in hockey and teaches classics and art, an area of personal interest.
The boarding school regularly hosts Cumberland Minor Counties games outside term time, but the former wicketkeeper batsman admitted: “We’ve always talked about possibly hosting first-class cricket.
“Our first-team boys have played the Lancashire, Durham and Yorkshire Academy sides for 10-12 years now.
“Last summer, we had a good game against Lancashire, and (Red Rose Director of Cricket) Paul Allott came along. The weather was absolutely sensational.
“If you look a few years ago, you had (former Sedbergh pupil) Jordan Clark, Liam Livingstone, Ben Stokes, a group of very good young players who learnt their cricket in Cumbria,” said Speight. “Apart from Stokes, they went to Lancashire.
“This is also about showcasing first-class cricket to Cumbria. It’s a great opportunity.
“The Lancashire and Cumbrian Boards have got together and are arranging games of cricket on the outfield, and there are different schools coming on different days. There is also a good chance Jimmy Anderson will play, and you can’t get better advertising for the game.
“With all of that, it should inspire some kids to get out there and play the game.”
“A lot of people who I’ve known from years gone by have contacted me and said they’re coming up because it’s a new venue,” added Speight.
Unbeaten Division Two leaders Lancashire are aiming for their fifth win from eight games against a Durham side who, before this week’s clash with Sussex, had only won once so far.