LAKEWOOD RANCH — Growing up in a seaside resort in North Wales, Laurence Parry spent countless summer afternoons by the beach.
But at the time, Parry wasn’t interested in the crashing waves or the seashells tucked away in the smooth brown sand. Instead, the young schoolboy and his friends would gather at the beach with nothing more than a tennis ball and a bat in tow.
And on the rare occasions when they forgot to bring a bat, the boys would find the nearest tree and cut off one of its branches. The boys then would run up and down the beach searching for stones, which they would pile up in the sand.
At that point, it was game-on, Parry says. The boys spent hours playing cricket until the tide rolled in and dismantled their game. From there, the boys moved to the nearest street, drew a wicket on the smoothest wall they could find and continued their game.
“Having such wonderful memories from a very simple childhood,” Parry said. “Cricket is forever in my blood.”
This weekend, the Sarasota International Cricket Club president will have a chance to reunite with some of his old friends during the 16th annual Six-A-Side Festival. Fifteen six- to eight-person teams will gather at the Sarasota Cricket Club in Lakewood Ranch for the festival, which begins today and will continue through Nov. 29.
“I look forward to meeting lots of old friends who continue to support this festival when they could quite easily be traveling to other venues anywhere in the world,” Parry said. “Many of our regular teams have visited on nine or 10 occasions, so it is no wonder that I regard them all as family.”
Some of the teams participating in this year’s festival include Houston Memorial, which has participated in all of the SICC’s festivals, the Sarasota Redbacks, the Cayman Island Greenies and Evergreenies and the United Kingdom’s Esther Cricket Club and Staffordshire.
During the festival, the teams will be divided into three groups to play for the Festival Shield. The event will begin with round robin play with the top two teams in each group moving onto the finals on Sunday.
“The goal of the festival is to put on an annual event, which helps to promote cricket in the area and spread interest in the sport,” Parry said. “Festival cricket is far more relaxed than the longer versions of the game. The word ‘festival’ denotes gaiety, merry-making and joyous celebration. Seeing old friends again in Sarasota in November is a now part of their lives, which they look forward to.”
The SICC was founded in 1983. For nearly a decade, the club played on the Fraternal Order of the Eagles’ ground off Wilkinson Road. In 1993, Lakewood Ranch offered the use of a laser-leveled, full-size ground on University Parkway opposite the Sarasota Polo Club.
With the ground later scheduled for development, Lakewood Ranch provided the club a new field further down on University Parkway, providing the SICC with a chance to have a permanent home. The club played its final game on the old field in May 2002. The clubhouse was moved the following month, and that October, the SICC played its first match on its new field.
In 2004, Richie Benaud, a cricketing legend and frequent visitor to Sarasota, agreed to become the Patron of the SICC. Benaud opened the SICC’s clubhouse in April 1994 and continues to promote cricket throughout the area.
For more information, visit the club’s Web site, www.sarasotacricket.com.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].
16TH ANNUAL SIX-A-SIDE FESTIVAL
WHEN: Nov. 25-29; finals begin Nov. 29
WHERE: Sarasota International Cricket Club, 7401 University Parkway, Lakewood Ranch
TEAMS: Participating squads represent the United States, the United Kingdom and the Cayman Islands, among others
CONTACT: 232-9956 or [email protected]