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A state of the art indoor training facility for Eversley Cricket Club

When Cemex applied for permission to extract 650,000 tonnes of sand and gravel from land at Eversley, little did the community know it would result in an outstanding sports facility, dramatically increasing the resources available to them (and the wider populace).

Eversley Cricket Club had formed an alliance with the Eversley and California Football Club in 2002 to create Eversley Sports Association, which formally became a charity in 2009.

Once the applied-for excavation and reinstatement had been completed, Cemex had made the land available to Eversley Sports Association, allowing both clubs to reassess their position and plan for the future.

Following an investment of circa £1.5 million, the first two phases of their decided project were complete. Phase one included eight new football pitches, a cricket square, and a changing block.

Phase two, much to the delight of the cricket club, was a brand new state-of-the-art indoor cricket facility.

Prior to the expansion, the cricket club had a single ground. The second ground they could use was in neighbouring Crowthorne, and the club were barely able to accommodate a youth team.

Now, they proudly boast four Saturday and two Sunday teams. Juniors include Colts and girls up to 18 years of age, and the Ladies of Eversley are now in their second season.

All cricket clubs aspire to an indoor training facility and that aspiration was to become a reality for Eversley. The club wanted the best their money could buy; a structure with lighting, flooring, and netting, all of a superior standard. If they were going to do it, they wanted to do it right!

Money was sourced from various funding bodies including local authorities, district and parish councils, and local businesses – plus a large grant from the now-defunct National Sports Foundation (now part of Sport England), with the balance being raised through hard work fundraising by the club themselves.

From a financial standpoint a traditional brick build was unachievable, so the search commenced for an alternative. It was the refurbishment of the Ageas Bowl, formally the Rose Bowl in Hampshire, and the inclusion of tension membrane coverings which prompted the team to investigate the benefits of clear span tension membrane buildings.

After a little research the club were introduced to Collinson, suppliers of—amongst other build types—tensile sports facilities.

The club visited other sites supplied, erected, and fit out by Collinson and were impressed by what they saw and heard. After working with the Collinson team to figure out the best specification for the Eversley project, an order was placed for a structure 42m x 22m x 6.5m.

The build went well, with Collinson supplying the Challenger™ building—including cladding, gutters, down pipes, ventilation, lighting, external walls and doors—before handing the building over in April 2009 for the internal fit out, which was project managed by the club.

Once completed, Eversley quickly began to reap the rewards of such a prestigious facility.

Since then, the club has benefitted tremendously. The four lane facility accommodates training November through to April. Unlike the previous year when abysmal weather through May and June hampered play, rain didn’t present an issue. Members could continue training throughout, and were even able to host matches in the internal centre cage. 

Adding another string to their bow, the club are now members of the indoor league which runs from October through to December.

The club utilises the facility 50% of peak time, evenings, and weekends, and have seen an increase in revenue by hiring out to other clubs for cricket, bowling, and keep-fit activities. The main external emphasis has been on working with a group called SuperSportz who offer private one-to-one and group cricket coaching, and work closely with local schools and clubs.

Names like Nick Compton, Monty Panesar, and Charlotte Edwards MBE—the current captain of the England women's team—regularly train at Eversley; affirmation that it really is the best facility in the area.

When speaking to the England and Wales Cricket Board prior to the build, the club were asked what they hoped to achieve from the build. The answer? To improve the skill of their cricketers, reflecting on the level of cricket the club was playing. 

True enough, the seniors have moved up two divisions in the last three years to play in the first division of the Thames Valley League. So too have the juniors, now playing in the highest levels of the Hampshire Cricket Leagues. This, according to the club, can be directly credited to the ability to train whatever the weather.

The number of young people inclined to participate in sport and exercise is increasing. Eversley Sports Association have made this possible in their area. Cricket club membership has increased by 200%. With over 250 young members, plus a 50 strong waiting list; 100 seniors; the club; and the football club with over 400 juniors, they have achieved their goal to not only provide a fantastic sporting facility for the youth of the area, but for the community as a whole.

Alan Budge, Vice Chairman of the club, said, “The standard of cricket played here at Eversley is outstanding. Whilst perhaps not exclusively as a result of the centre, it is pretty close to that.

“By utilising this fantastic facility and having good coaches we give every player, young or old, the opportunity to excel.”

He continued: “Indoor facilities are few and far between. The savings made by choosing a Collinson building rather than a traditional build made our dream a possibility, a possibility that we as a club made a reality, and we will continue to go from strength to strength.

“With an ever-increasing number of Eversley-based youngsters representing district and county levels, it is only a matter of time before one of them goes onto national honours.”

When the Centre was officially opened in 2012, former England cricketer Devon Malcolm was equally impressed. According to him, Eversley has, ‘an outstanding facility’.

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