Wisden caught up with two winners from recreational cricket’s flagship awards ceremony.
The NatWest Outstanding Service to Cricket Awards (OSCAs) honours devoted volunteers who have enhanced cricket in their community and beyond. After regional awards were handed out by county cricket boards, the ECB invited those winners to the national ceremony at Lord’s on October 9. These die-hards work tirelessly behind the scenes and are the backbone of their respective clubs or associations. Here are two success stories recognised at this year’s national OSCAs.
A passionate volunteer for Oakamoor CC, a thriving village club off the River Churnet on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent, Amy Carnwell scooped both the Staffordshire and national Young Volunteer award. Described as an “amazing young lady” by her club, Carnwell is a respected coach, committee member, junior co-ordinator and manager of the club’s successful women’s soft-ball teams.
Carnwell joined Oakamoor aged eight and progressed through to the Staffordshire girls and women’s teams, as well as representing her club’s senior third team. “I’m so thankful to Oakamoor for encouraging me,” she said after receiving her award. “When I joined, there weren’t opportunities for girls, but the club made it possible. We formed an under 11 team and I was treated like one of the boys – I was never any different, which I loved.”
Despite the odd look from opposing players before a senior match, Carnwell insists it was “mainly in your head – will they say something because I’m a girl?”. She adds: “Things have moved forward since I started – there are many young girls playing now. I always wanted to play with the blokes, though, because they’re hilarious. I still encourage girls to play with the boys because you learn more – not only for your cricket ability but your mindset and character.”
While recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, Carnwell has played a leading role in Oakamoor’s successful fundraising activities. “I’m that person who’s never away from the club. I’m not a standout person, though – there are so many people down there helping out.”
Heather Vernon was recognised for her role in boosting the profile of cricket scorers as a county scorers’ officer for Warwickshire and the regional scorers’ officer for the West Midlands. A certified assessor, she develops and runs training courses for the ECB’s Association of Cricket Officials (ACO), Warwickshire Cricket League and the Birmingham & District Premier Cricket League, mentoring new scorers of all ages.
“The OSCAs was a great event – a fantastic atmosphere and everyone there was a winner,” said Vernon. “It is lovely to be recognised but I accepted this on behalf of all the scorers I work with.”
Vernon has been key to the successful implementation of online scoring in the Birmingham & District Premier Cricket League, including the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method, and has helped develop the Play-Cricket Scorer Pro software system.
Vernon started scoring because “it was an alternative to making the teas” and has journeyed from village cricket to national honours. “My husband was captain of Bridgnorth CC 2nd XI and my youngest started playing when he was eight – and I wanted to watch him. The book was such a mess and I like neat things and numbers, so I started scoring. My son was headhunted by Leicestershire and Warwickshire youth and I followed him around. I did a bit of training and got involved with the ACO, and there was only one other scorer – the rest were umpires. It snowballed from there and I started tutoring.”
Scoring is a specialist and often-undervalued role, but, as Vernon attests, “without scorers, a match would fade into history”.