A VILLAGE cricket club which once hosted a match where Prince Philip bowled the first delivery is making adult cricket free this summer.

Combe Cricket Club have been active in West Oxfordshire for 136 years, but their current struggle for players represents a broader problem across village cricket in the county.

In 2011, there were 105 teams in the Oxfordshire Cricket Association (OCA), and 73 in 2019, before the OCA joined the Cherwell Cricket League.

Going into this season, the league has 87 clubs and 190 teams spread over six counties, playing across eight tiers and 19 divisions.

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Combe, whose most recent title was the Telegraph Cup in 2021, are now making cricket more accessible in a bid to buck the trend.

Adult cricket will therefore be available for free this summer, with no membership or match fees.

The club estimates this is a saving of £210 for players, compared to previous campaigns.

The free cricket has also been extended to the use of indoor nets, and potential new recruits who want to find out more, can head down to Charlbury Community Centre each Sunday until April 28, from 3pm-4pm.

thisisoxfordshire: The Duke of Edinburgh shakes hands with Combe cricketers in 1949The Duke of Edinburgh shakes hands with Combe cricketers in 1949 (Image: Oxford Mail archive)

Prince Philip met the Combe side in 1949 after opening the village’s new sports ground, and bowled the first ball in a match watched by thousands.

Combe will start the forthcoming season in Division 6 of the Cherwell Cricket League, and are on the lookout for new players to join the club. The Cherwell Cricket League campaign gets underway from May 11.

For more information, and to contact the club, please visit: combecricketclub.com