Knebworth Park honour the life of Frank Manning with annual trophy match

PUBLISHED: 07:56 06 August 2015 | UPDATED: 10:37 06 August 2015

Ben Lewis bats for Knebworth

Ben Lewis bats for Knebworth


While England were whittling away the Aussies’ wafer-thin lead for victory at Edgbaston on day three last Friday, a man from Down Under was battling back for his compatriots on a bright afternoon in Knebworth.

Jarrod Turner, who spent six years at Park from 2003, was in full flow for Hugh Bateson’s XI against a Park XI in the Frank Manning Trophy - the cup to commemorate the life of Park’s former club captain, groundsman and all-round larger-than-life character at the club.

Turner’s departure for 31 soon after drew derision from the home crowd, but it was all in the good spirit of the day.

Following Manning’s death in 1985, the match was adopted into an annual event, and with Bateson, a former player himself, taking the organisational reins in the mid ‘90s, he believed the game should be tailored into a “social centrepiece” for the club.

Bateson told the WHT: “I am lucky enough to know a lot of players from around the county so the aim is to get a decent side to come out and enjoy what the club has to offer.

“It’s a pressure-off day for some of them and it is a great way to honour the life of Frank.

“It’s just a family-friendly, informal day. I used to play in it and I wanted to take it on and make it the social centrepiece of the year and I believe it has become such an event.”

Bateson’s side hold an iron grip on the trophy, having relinquished it just twice in 20-odd years, according to the chief organiser.

With top performers from the Saracens Herts County Premier Division such as WGC pair Scott Walter, 10-wicket hero against Hemel Hempstead back in June, and Turner’s team-mate in Queensland, Australia, and Tony Skeggs among others, the day certainly attracts some county-known names.

Soaking up the atmosphere on the sidelines, having rattled to 246 in the first innings, Park’s XI, currently second bottom in SHCL Division One, had a job on their hands to end their barren spell and re-claim the trophy.

Not that it’s about the scoreline for Park’s chairman Chris Johnson.

Johnson told the WHT: “It is always an important date in our calendar and it is an opportunity to get old players, friends, guests, helpers to the club back to the club.

“It’s a chance for everyone to relax and enjoy some cricket without the competitive edge of a weekend game where you need to win.

“Whatever the result in this match, everyone will enjoy themselves. Frank would have loved days like this. He was a committed man who gave his life to Knebworth Park Cricket Club.”

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