A Parfitt ending as new pavilion opens

There were cheers when ex-England and Middlesex player Peter Parfitt opened a new �184,000 pavilion at Swanton Morley Cricket Club.

The new facilities mark a massive step forward for the club, which previously relied on the village pub for changing and toilet facilities.

Despite securing grants from Breckland Council, the English Cricket Board (ECB), the Norfolk Youth Fund and Sport England, the project reached an impasse with a serious budget shortfall in November last year.

The ECB saved the day when it offered additional funding and building work could finally get under way in February this year.

Admiring the new pavilion, Mr Parfitt told the crowd: 'Village cricket is very, very important. First class cricket is in a parlous state. You might not think it when we whitewash India, but I have got to tell you that every county is struggling. The gap between club and first class players is narrower than it's ever been.

'Whatever you do, don't let this club fall in to disuse – you are vitally important to the game as a whole. The most important people in cricket are the people who play for the love of the game, who help to keep the ground, who mark out the pitch, the wives who make the tea. You are all important, so don't for one moment think you are irrelevant, you're not.'

Mr Parfitt, 74, was born in Billingford near Dereham and attended Fakenham Grammar School and King Edward VII School.

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The former left-arm batsman and right-arm bowler scored nearly 27,000 runs and took almost 300 wickets in his career.

'I'm particularly pleased to be here because I was born a mile-and-a-half away, as the crow flies,' he said. 'I played once for Billingford when I was about 11 – they were short and my father was captain.

'I want to congratulate everyone who was involved in this project, I think the job has been done magnificently.'

Club chairman George Northall remembered how an old caravan had been used a tea room, changing area and a refuge from the rain in the 1980s. 'We as a club still find hard to believe what has been evolving before our eyes. The pavilion will be an tremendous asset to this club and other sports clubs which may develop here.'

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