SWINDON United Churches celebrated 25 years of cricket tours with matches against Torquay, Exmouth and Devon club Harberton recently.

The Swindon-based club’s touring exploits began in 1989 against clubs in Yorkshire.

In 1997 Devon become their base and since then 51 members have toured 27 venues.

“These 25 years have provided us with a rich variety of cricket,” said David Martin, Swindon United Churches secretary and organiser of the club’s tours.

“It has been something of an honour to be invited to clubs such as Torquay where legends like Worell, Cowdrey, Chappell and Sobers, have in the past hung their whites on the same peg as us.

“Similarly it has been wonderful to visit villages with old wooden pavilions, streams skirting the boundary, teas spread out on trestle tables under trees with chance to retire to country pubs where exploits on the field have been reminisced over for generations.

“This has all given a number of young Swindon cricketers a taste of cricket beyond local leagues and hopefully helped increase their understanding, love and appreciation of the game.”

United Churches celebrated their 25th year of touring by presenting each of their opposing teams with a plaque, thanking them for their hospitality past and present.

The plaque featured the steam engine King George V – symbol of the railway heritage of Swindon.

Swindon United Churches won all their tour matches last year but this time their fortunes were not so successful as they came out second best throughout.

Jimmy Mann received The Orange Cap for the best batting throughout the tour after finishing on 143 runs, some way ahead of Dan Hunt who was runner-up with 78.

The Purple Cap award for highest wicket taker looked set to go to Bob Butcher until the last day’s play when Richard Martin snatched the honour.

Other wicket takers during the tour were Chris Gillchrist, Charlie Dabbs, Dean Tomlin and Dan Hunt.

Swindon United Churches take their name from the churches of the town where they began almost a century ago.

They play in Division Two of the Wiltshire County League at their ground in Sevenhampton and run a programme of friendly fixtures.

New players, whether or not they have any association with church, are welcome at nets held throughout the season – please call secretary David Martin on 01793 770171 for details.