Close of Play

A novel about a village cricket match

Alternatively read the book in print or on Kindle

For most of the summer of 2020, for the first time in three hundred years, the playing fields of England did not resound with the thwack of leather on willow or the polite applause of a smattering of spectators. There were none of Kipling’s flannelled fools at the wicket. There was nobody to shout ‘play up, play up and play the game’. There was no ‘ten to make and the match to win’, no blinding light, no hour to play, no last man in.

Two years later, the Government is determined to concrete over the countryside and a property developer has got his hands on the freehold of Howard Michael Cricket Club, a small village affair with a dwindling number of players.

They are offered £1 million, or £40,000 each, to sell the last ten years of their lease on the land to Stafford Homes but the members are evenly divided over whether to stay or go.

Acton Trussell, a former MP, is President of the club and when it comes to a final decision, he has the casting vote. He decides the only way out of the dilemma is for the two factions to take each other on in a Twenty20 cricket game – the £1 million village cricket match.

With a few twists and turns on and off the field, the game takes place and the question is resolved.

And here is a new video about the book:

How different would an English summer be without slip fielders?

’24 for 3′ by Jennie Walker
Halesowen Cricket Club on a fine summer’s afternoon.
You can read a back issue of the ‘Sunday Times‘ or you can read ‘Close of Play‘ to see how it happens.
‘As the Housing Secretary takes charge of Boris Johnson’s pledge to ‘build, build, build’, Nimbys are in the cross-hairs.’

You have been warned

Just had an email titled: ‘UK Planning Laws Have Changed – Find The Best Opportunities Before Anyone Else!’

It’s promoting some free webinar promising: ‘The new PD rights present a £100bn opportunity for property developers in the UK!Find The Best Opportunities Before Anyone Else!The fastest way to find the most profitable opportunities is by using ourrecently launched and most powerful platform to date, Nimbus Maps ELITE+.’

I’ve got no idea who Nimbus Maps ELITE+ are or what they do but you have been warned… new housing estates are coming to a cricket ground near you.

Planning for disaster

Is Michael Gove going to row back on the Government’s plans to concrete over the countryside? He should do if he wants the Conservatives to win the next election.

The disco-dancing, nerdy new Secretary of State for Everything Important to Re-election has supposedly been told to do something to stop property developers decimating this green and pleasant land.

First off, he’ll have to abandon the Tories’ proposals to deny locals any say in what happens in their back yard and drop the idea that local councils are ordered to build X-thousand new homes whether they like it or not.

Sadly, even if the Government does trim its sails a bit and refuse to provide a blank cheque for property developers, not much will change because the planning system itself is in the hands of bureaucrats who will ensure it cannot change.

The local authority ‘experts’, the planning lawyers, the civil service command-and-control policy and the developers themselves will ensure nothing really puts the brakes on a rotten and corrupt system.

Yes, we need more homes (though we need fewer of them now most EU migrants have gone back home again). Yes, they need to be affordable for young people. And yes, they might as well be as environmentally-friendly as possible.

This can be achieved by re-purposing redundant town centres, unwanted office blocks and abandoned factories. It’s just a bit harder for the developers to do that and there may be a little less money to be made.

But the alternative of ploughing up the Green Belt is worse. And if Mr Gove does not realise that then he need only remember the Chesham and Amersham by-election when the seat was won by the Liberal Democrats with 57 per cent of the vote on a swing from the Conservatives of 25 per cent.