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Anticipation builds ahead of Twenty20 PCA England Masters visit to Woolpit on bank holiday Monday

Karl Holmes admits he has been glued to the ever-changing weather forecast, hoping that the sun will come out in time for Summer Bank Holiday.

The wicketkeeper has been pleading with the British summer’s sun department for a bit of luck on bank holiday Monday and for warm – and, crucially, dry – weather to arrive in time for the PCA England Masters team’s visit to Woolpit Cricket Club.

Essex batsman Ravi Bopara (pictured) was revealed as the final England star earlier this week. But news on Thursday afternoon (after the paper had gone to print) saw a late change to the line-up with Mark Ramprakash standing in to replace Ajmal Shahzad.

The famous cricketer had previously agreed to play but had to withdraw due to commitments with the New European T20 League; his circumstances have once more changed.

HECC, Rooks Farm, High Wych.Essex CC winter indoor training at the cricket centre. Ravi Bopara. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (15599982)
HECC, Rooks Farm, High Wych.Essex CC winter indoor training at the cricket centre. Ravi Bopara. .Pic: Vikki Lince. (15599982)

The Twenty20 match against the England legends at 2pm will be the highlight of a day which will be filled with cricket, including an inter-club junior softball tournament, with the club open from 9am. Organiser Holmes said they would ‘love to see as many as 1,000 down for the day’.

He said: “I’ve been on weather watch for the past few months now and it’s changed so much. It’s looking good at the minute though, so hopefully it stays as forecast: dry and bright. There’s so much excitement, we’re all buzzing for the event.”

The first team player for Woolpit, who compete in Division One of the Marshall Hatchick Two Counties Championship, added that he was personally eagerly anticipating the chance to play against England players he grew up watching.

“I’ve played cricket for some time now and I’m so excited to be getting the chance to play against the guys that inspired a passion in the game,” he said. “I have watched and supported and cheered for the likes of Alex Tudor and Jonathan Trott and now I’m going to be playing against them, I can’t wait.”

The PCA Masters side have named 11 players, with Ravi Bopara a late addition on Tuesday.

Alex Tudor was announced first and will captain the visiting side; he will be joined by Devon Malcolm, John Emburey, Dean Headley, Jonathan Trott, Ajmal Shahzad, Owais Shah, Phillip DeFreitas, Matthew Hoggard, Anthony McGrath and, finally, Bopara.

The current Essex batsman is also a decent medium bowler.

Holmes said: “It will be a bowling heavy side, I understand they’re trying to get another batsman to level it out a bit. But it’s not about the result as much as we are all competitive and try our best, it’s a chance to enjoy the experience.

“The idea is to get everyone some time on the pitch.”

Spectators will have the chance to also take part in a Q&A with some of the England players from 12.30pm.

It will be a whole day event, with activities beginning at 10am and continuing through to 7pm at the village’s cricket field.

There will be free parking, with the club’s second pitch doubling up as a car park for the day, with the club’s current parking area to be reserved for players and match officials.

Forecasts are currently showing a warm and sunny day, with tickets costing £7 on the day. Early Bird tickets (£5) are available until Saturday evening.

The Woolpit squad, meanwhile, is: Will Parker (c), Andy Northcote, Barry Collins, Karl Holmes, Gavin Taylor, Freddie Heldreich, Adam Coombes, George Tillbrook, Ryan Newcombe, Stuart Lilley, Jon Block, George Heldreich, Tom Whiteman, Ollie Melville-Ross and Chris Wells.

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