England international joins fight to save cricket in Islington

AN England international batsman has backed a campaign to save the last public cricket pitch in Islington.

Billy Godleman, 22, who has been capped 24 times at England U19 level, grew up whacking a ball around on the Popham Estate, off Essex Road, Islington.

The ex-Islington Green pupil competed at Wray Crescent, in Finsbury Park, which now faces closure after the council had to pay �680 in damages to the owner of a car that was damaged when a ball was hit out of the ground.

Mr Godleman, who holds the record for the highest score for England at youth level with 149, and now plays for Essex, said: “It would be bad if the ground was just scrapped completely. It would be nice if the council could put the money into building facilities where cars wouldn’t get damaged, rather than paying out every time.

“It would definitely be a shame for grass roots cricket if it closed. It’s good for people who enjoy playing for the love of the game.

“People are quick to criticise young people for the bad things they do, but if they had more facilities like Wray Crescent maybe they could put their energies into that.”

Earlier this month the Gazette exclusively revealed that Islington Council had suspended all cricket at Wray Crescent until further notice on the advice of its insurance team. In an attempt to galvanise people into action, James Gleadow, 28, the treasurer of Pacific Cricket Club, who play at the ground, has launched a petition to get the council to rescind the ban.

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Club secretary Peter Hollman said: “We used to play at Tufnell Park as well, but agreed to move to Wray Crescent so they could have more football pitches at Tufnell Park.

“I was at the meeting about ten years ago with a couple of councillors and we agreed to move on the proviso that there would always be cricket in Finsbury Park. They made that promise, so I am particularly miffed.

“We ask anyone who is a sport lover in the borough, or anyone who wants their children to play when they get older, or anyone who can’t travel but enjoys watching the game to support us and sign the petition.”

The news comes in the same week that St John’s Highbury Vale primary school in Conewood Road, Highbury, reached the grand final of the British Land Kids Cricket League, to be played on March 24.

- The petition can be found at http://petitions.islington.gov.uk/Cricket-at-Wray/