Downend expecting a big crowd for visit of star-studded Lashings
DOWNEND'S preparations for a return visit from the star-studded Lashings guest side on July 12 are in full swing, with another large crowd expected to pack one of Bristol's most historic grounds.
Hospitality packages have proved so popular that, at the time of going to press, only half-a-dozen of 200 original seats remain available for sale, to the delight of club chairman Mike Richmond.
He said: "We're a long way ahead of where we were for last year's game. We've tried to make the hospitality as accessible as possible, and at £65 these seats are really good value."
General admission to the game is again free, and plenty of fans eager to watch Test stars of yesteryear are expected to line the WG Grace Memorial Ground.
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Richmond said: "We had a tremendous crowd last year. A friendly source found us a supply of benches which went right round the ground and they quickly filled up.
"We're expecting the same this time, but I have to say that we don't have the biggest ground in the world and people need to have their wits about them!"
Lashings, this season skippered by former England all-rounder Phil DeFreitas, will announce their team closer to the game.
Their squad for the season, though, includes such luminaries as West Indian legends Courtney Walsh and Gordon Greenidge, former England greats John Emburey, Dominic Cork and Devon Malcolm, plus Bristol-based Ian Harvey, who made a considerable name for himself with Australia and Gloucestershire.
Downend will be captained by Matt Jackson, the 2011 Evening Post Cricketer of the Year, who claimed 3-50 in last year's fixture, taking the wickets of Graeme Hick, Harvey and New Zealand's James Marshall.
Richmond said: "We gave a very good account of ourselves in last year's game and went through the rest of the season unbeaten in the league – we're hoping for the same this time round!
"All the talk at the moment is about rain and people looking at clouds, it's affecting all clubs in the region and I think we need a bit of a leg up.
"We've got our fingers crossed for July 12 and a great afternoon of cricket, which will be good for the club and good for the area."
The action is due to start at around 2.15pm with Downend, as tradition in these games dictates, batting first for 35 overs, setting Lashings a target to chase.
For details of hospitality packages, visit www.downendcricket.co.uk.