It’s not often an England cricket captain drops by to spend the evening at a village club, but that’s exactly what happened at Market Overton last week.
Heather Knight, skipper of England’s World Cup-winning women’s side, called in for a special evening of cricket at the Rutland club on Friday.
The event, which attracted almost 200 players and guests, was co-ordinated by Marko club chairman Mark Hudson who works for SM Cricket, a sponsor of Knight’s.
“I have been planning it since January, dealing with all the logistics, but it was a proper community event,” he said.
“One of the local farmers even leant us his field to give us extra parking.
“Heather was really good and didn’t want to rush off. She is a real down-to-earth character and you can understand why people saw her as captain.
“She was heading off for a weekend away from cricket in the Peak District so to take time out from that for us says a lot about her.”
After an informal meet and greet, Knight, who has more than 3,500 international runs across all formats, held a cricketing masterclass with the club’s burgeoning women’s and girls’ section.
She then umpired a softball women’s match between the Marko Marvels and Barkby United, and concluded her four-hour stay with a question and answer session.
Mark added: “She did some coaching with the girls and spoke with our coaches to share her experience, and also showed the children some of her shots.
“She gave some really insightful answers in the Q and A – I think everyone got a lot out of the evening.”
Mark, who also works with the Leicestershire CCC’s county women’s team, launched Marko’s women’s and girls’ section at the start of 2018, and it has caught the imagination.
The senior section alone has 25 members and have just begun their first competitive season.
On Sunday they tested an experienced Stoke-on-Trent club side, packed with county players, in a national cup tie.
Mark’s daughter Isabelle (15) has already represented England Under 17s at the Indoor World Cup in New Zealand, and could be set to make her county senior debut later this summer once her GCSEs are complete.
He said: “We didn’t really play any matches last year, just a few festivals, but over the winter I pushed them a little bit harder and by the end of the programme pretty much everyone was ready for hardball cricket.”