Monday, December 04, 2017

Cricket and Christianity: The Revd Andrew Wingfield Digby visits Church Stretton

On holiday in Oxford one summer, I came across the church that was home to the Revd Andrew Wingfield Digby.

Blogging at the time, I described him as 
a stalwart of the Oxford University cricket team in the 1970s. All told he took 97 first-class wickets @ 33.87 - a highly creditable record for a university bowler. He also, says Cricinfo, played for Dorset, a minor county, for over a decade. 
In 1989 Ted Dexter, then the chairman of the selectors, appointed him as spiritual advisor to the England team. In that era it was a role that would have tried any man's vocation.
With any prospect of retaining the Ashes this winter rapidly retreating, an appeal for Divine intervention may again be England's best tactic.

The Revd Wingfield Digby was the guest at a lunch at St Laurence's, Church Stretton, this September and was profiled as a result by the Shropshire Star.

He turned out to be not at all churchy and a good chap to have on your side in a closely contested one-day game:
Andrew, who was also a chaplain at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, says he feels a great deal of sympathy for England vice-captain Ben Stokes, who was arrested earlier this week following an alleged incident at a Bristol nightclub: "He is just an ordinary bloke going out on the lash, but when you're in the public eye it is very easy to be targeted."
Indeed, while playing for Dorset, Andrew remembers his team sometimes attracting the interest of the tabloids. 
"We appeared on page three of The Sun three times," he says, "which is not something you expect for Dorset Cricket Club." 
One of these occasions followed a game against Shropshire, played at Wellington, which ended in a minor brawl. 
"Our fast bowler played a beamer at Shropshire's no. 11 batsman, it was at head height and was pretty dangerous, and the batsman was not very good. 
"He managed to avoid getting hit, but the non-striking batsman approached our bowler at the end of the game, and began to shout at him saying he shouldn't have bowled a beamer at him. 
"The next thing we knew, our fast bowler had laid one on the non-strike batsman."
One is reminded of Harold "Stinker" Pinker, curate at Market Snodsbury, who played rugby for Oxford and England.

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