As they take to the pitch this weekend, cricket clubs across Montgomeryshire and Shropshire will be remembering a talented teammate, feared adversary and loyal friend.
The death of James Corfield has sent shockwaves through the local sporting community, and none more so than at his hometown club.
“The Corfield family are in our hearts,” said John Barker, Montgomery Cricket Club Chairman.
“The whole family are very much involved in the cricket club as well as the community of Montgomery. This is a very sad time for us all.
“Montgomery Cricket Club is very much a community club, and all the Corfield family have been part of our family for many years.
“Not only does James’s father Brian, known by his nickname of George, captain the second XI, his brother Thomas opens the batting for the second XI, and his sister Emma plays for the under-13 youth side, his mother Louise helps organise other ladies – mothers, partners, sisters and more – to provide Montgomery’s famous cricket teas.
“James and Thomas were often seen at Lymore helping prepare the ground, or running the local cricket knockout.”
James had long been recognised as an up-and coming star player. In 2016, the 19-year-old headed the bowling and batting averages for the first team after scoring 417 runs with a top score of 120, and taking 46 wickets with a best of eight wickets for 40 runs.
In 2017, he had scored 386 runs with a top score of 114, and taken 27 wickets.
Mr Barker continued: “At the end of last season James Corfield was awarded both our batting and bowling cups following an outstanding season that saw him develop a potential that had been obvious to club members for many years.
“We’ve seen him grow from a young lad, join our youth section and emerge into the senior teams, and at every stage there was a sense of expectation amongst team mates and supporters whenever he picked up the bat or ball.
“A genuinely fast bowler and attacking batsman, his talents made him the Shropshire Division Two Cricketer of the Year and the League’s Young Player of the Year in 2016.
“So successful was James last year that we joked with the family that they would need extra shelves to show off all his trophies.
“James was a prominent member of the club not only because of his ability. He was a friendly, helpful and hardworking young man who gave a huge amount to the cricketing family at Lymore.
“As a local player who had emerged through the club youth section, he was looked up to by the new sets of youths. He always had time for them, even the very young. He would often be seen playing with the young boys and girls, passing on his skills.
“We have been very fortunate to have had James as part of our life in Montgomery Cricket Club. He was a huge talent, even at only 19 years old.
“After such a brilliant season in 2016 he was approached by clubs in higher divisions, but he told them he wanted to stay in Montgomery. His loyalty says much about James as a person.
“Many clubs have contacted us to pass on their thoughts and recollections. He was already well respected, and feared, by other clubs, both as a fast bowler and as an aggressive batsman.
“We can only now imagine what a player he would have become as his talents developed further.
“His passing will be deeply mourned by all at the club, in the town, and the cricketing and farming communities across Montgomery and Shropshire. Our thoughts are with Louise, Brian, Thomas and Emma and we will be offering them all the support we can in the days and weeks to come.”
See full story in the County Times