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Leicestershire Cricket Club wants to create regular festival event at Oakham School

Leicestershire are hoping to revive the Oakham Cricket Festival and make it a permanent part of the Foxes’ county schedule.

Incoming chief executive Sean Jarvis said he wanted to see the event at Oakham School achieve a similar status to that enjoyed by Scarborough, the Yorkshire outground which stages the most popular cricket festival in the domestic game.

Jarvis said: “I’m a massive fan of the Scarborough Festival and don’t see why we shouldn’t be ambitious and aim to emulate it.

“The connections between Leicestershire and Oakham School are well-established, there’s a fine new pavilion, the pitches are very good, and as long as we build the right way it could be incredibly successful.”

Iain Simpson, director of sport at Oakham School, said the school had been keen to stage Leicestershire fixtures this season.

He commented: “We were already in discussions with LCC about hosting more one day fixtures this season, but we have obviously had to put these plans to one side due to coronavirus.

“Now more than ever we need to look ahead and plan for events that put sport firmly back on the calendar.

“So we would be delighted to talk to LCC about any future events that encourage both participation and enjoyment of the game within the wider community.”

Local business sponsorship would be needed to help meet the costs, but unlike one-day matches, festivals including a four day fixture attract visitors who stay locally, bringing custom to hotels and guest houses as well as shops, benefiting nearby market towns such as Stamford and Melton Mowbray, as well as Oakham.

Nine championship matches have been staged at Oakham School, the first in 1935, when Leicestershire played Kent.

In 2000, Leicestershire, the 1998 county champions, played 1999 champions Surrey in a four day game notable for an innings of 295 by Surrey opener Alastair Brown and in 2004 Leicestershire themselves made 534 against Derbyshire.

The most recent first-class game was played in 2007, against Nottinghamshire, in a rain-affected match that after declarations, finished in an exciting draw. Current Foxes’ head coach Paul Nixon made 98 in Leicestershire’s first innings.

The Doncaster Close ground has also staged 10 ‘List A’ one day matches, the most recent just two years ago, when Leicestershire lost a vital toss and, after being put in on a misty morning, were bowled out for 172.

The sun then came out and Liam Livingstone smashed seven sixes in hitting 90 off just 56 balls as Lancashire cruised to a nine wicket win.

A number of former pupils at the school have gone on to play first-class cricket for Leicestershire and England, including Stuart Broad.

Current director of cricket at the school, former Zimbabwe international Neil Johnson, who also played for Leicestershire, added: “It would be amazing to work with LCC to develop more opportunities for cricket to be played and watched at Oakham.”

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