THE Dorset Cricket Society are this year celebrating their 20th birthday.

The Society was formed in October 2002 and was the brainchild of Richard Mockridge, who was then the Borough Engineer of Christchurch and a qualified ECB Cricket coach.

It was Mockridge who some years before had the idea of establishing a cricket coaching centre in Christchurch and in the early days this was based in the old borough engineer's depot buildings at Stanpit.

He pioneered the use of artificial wickets having laid and tested one in his back garden before introducing them on Christchurch Parks cricket pitches in order that grass wickets could be improved for club cricket.

Mockridge then had a vision for a larger cricket centre and after various fund raising schemes grants and sponsorship this aim came to fruition in the establishment of the purpose built indoor Dorset Cricket Centre at Hurn Bridge, Christchurch. This was opened by Sir Clive Lloyd nearly 30 years ago.

At the same time Hurn Bridge Sports Club developed a new club house and then over time Mockridge and his team involved with the Cricket Centre hit on the idea of establishing the Dorset Cricket Society. It brought them together socially with meetings on Thursday afternoons on a weekly basis during the winter months with a programme of speakers and uniquely members use of the indoor cricket nets after each meeting.

The Dorset Cricket Society now has over 70 members with a full programme of speakers running from October through to the end of March. It is unique in being the only Cricket Society in the UK that meets on a weekly basis through the winter months.

To celebrate, Cherries chairman Jeff Mostyn joined as a guest speaker last month.

Meetings start at 1.45pm at Christchurch Sports Club Hurn Bridge. Annual membership is £10 with a weekly fee for members of £5 or £7 for non-members. Admission includes tea/coffee and biscuits plus use of the Cricket Centre nets afterwards.