THIS week my wife and I returned from a trip to Manchester to watch two days of the cricket test match against Australia, writes Dave Kent.

Our previous visit to an Australia-England match was in Melbourne on a Boxing Day, the big day in Australia for international cricket. We were in a crowd of 92,000, the biggest cricket crowd ever.

We were expecting some aggressive comments from our neighbours in the stand, but England were so poor that the condescending politeness we received as England subsided was even worse.

But in Manchester, we watched some of the best English cricket we had ever seen, with England for once dominating proceedings and the visiting Aussie fans uncharacteristically subdued.

But, when we returned home, we discovered England’s dominance had come to nothing as the Manchester weather system had put an end to the match. The Ashes stay in Australia.

Back in the Forest, it’s interesting to read in the Forester our local cricket results, all matches in local leagues.

Since moving to the Forest 50 years ago, I have played for St Briavels, Parkend and Newnham at various times, before league cricket matches for village clubs had taken over from friendly matches to fill each club’s fixtures cards.

In this league dominated local cricket world, there are neutral umpires, no club fixtures secretaries (all fixtures arranged by the leagues), limited overs, and bowlers restricted to 8 per match.

Lydney Cricket Club can no longer pack their side with 9 batsmen, with Trevor Tompkins and Peter James bowling unchanged through the opponents’ innings, 20 overs or more each.

The format used to be that the side batting first would bat until tea, declare, and the other team would bat until the agreed close of play.

If the team batting last was not all out, then the match would be drawn.

I can only remember one match when this unspoken convention was ignored. We never played them again.

In those years when there was room in cricket clubs’ fixture lists, tours took me to exotic locations, including Amsterdam (with Newnham) and the exotically named Cheriton Fitzpaine (Devon, with St Briavels).

Cheriton Fitzpaine’s clubhouse was the village pub along a country lane, then there was a further long trip in along a narrow overgrown track to the cricket field.

The wicket was fine, but beyond the wicket area the field was an impenetrable wilderness.

Scoring was mostly by singles, sixes or wides.

A ball couldn’t find its way through the dense growth in the outfield, so the only way to get a boundary was by the aerial route.

A ‘2’ was occasionally possible when the ball was played firmly into the grassy marshlands.

We had a depleted village touring party with only one proper cricketer, Malcolm Harris, a fast bowler as well as a star batsman.

He took 9 wickets, and after a series of unsuccessful part-time bowlers at the other end, St Briavels had to resort to getting the wicket keeper to bowl.

I removed my wicket keeping kit and with my unplayable left-handed full tosses took the other wicket. Malcolm also scored a century in that match. We still lost.