October 20, 2020
Once hailed as the future and huge in Australia, for some reason the idea was not a hit. But it could be back in 2021
The Spin | Cannonball Cricket: the indoor revolution that failed to take off
It was in this week in 1985 that the Guardian first reported on a new form of indoor cricket, apparently set to take the nation by storm. A centre had opened in Wellingborough, another in Ipswich was following the week later and two courts at Lord’s were coming on stream the week after that, to add to venues already open in Hounslow and Peterborough. The ambition was for 150 indoor centres to open within three years. It was, according to Gordon Jenkins of the Lord’s indoor school, “wonderful for cricket”.
The following year the journalist Tim Heald published a book called The Character of Cricket, for which he travelled across England and Wales, talking to people involved in the game at various levels to establish a snapshot of the sport as it headed towards the final years of the century. “As far as Cricket is concerned I think I may have seen the future,” he wrote of a visit to one of these centres. “I found it in a converted warehouse in Hounslow. This is the home of Cannonball Cricket – ‘It’s Fast! It’s fun! It’s for everyone!’ It was a warehouse, but now it is 25,000 square feet of indoor cricket ‘courts’. Its popularity is growing so fast that any claim made in this book will be out of date by the time it is published (unless I am hopelessly wrong and the whole thing has gone bust).” Colin Lumley, the Australian-born real Tennis professional who managed the Hounslow centre, told the Times in 1985 “there are 250,000 Australians who play the game every week – and I think it will soon be as big here”.
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