A LECTURER is relishing the challenge of bringing together cricket's rich regional history for a huge archive in Huddersfield.
The Examiner revealed yesterday that thanks to a National Lottery grant, sports-mad academic Dr Peter Davies is to spend the next few years chronicling the game's past, speaking to old players and gathering historical items linked to the sport in Kirklees and Calderdale.
And he is now asking for help with his research from everyone involved in the game.
The oral history, collected from elderly players, will allow him to build a picture of the sport in Kirklees throughout the first half of the 20th century. Club records stretching further back will also prove valuable for the archive.
Dr Davies was granted £43,000 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to carry out its first-ever sports-related project. Normally, the cash goes on preserving old buildings and monuments.
But Dr Davies will focus on the social history and heritage of a game which has been at the heart of village life for centuries.
"A lot of clubs have had fires and been vandalised and some of the stuff has been lost. It's the role of history to say `this is important, let's guard it'."
He eventually hopes to write a book based on his studies.
The senior lecturer in history at the University of Huddersfield views cricket as more than just a game. It has played a crucial role in community life for more than 200 years.
Huddersfield lies at the very heart of one of the most fiercely proud cricketing counties in the country.
"Village cricket is fundamental to our heritage and history," said Dr Davies, who himself turns out for the YMCA cricket team at Birkby and has played the game all his life.
"It's real life. Some of the villages are formed around the cricket field. There's a pub, there's a church, there's a cricket ground."
His task will be massive. "There are lots of clubs to work with. Cricketing people love to talk. They love to reminisce!"
As part of the project, information plaques will be put outside all the cricket grounds in Kirklees giving a potted history about the site and club.
There will be education packs for schools. Local artists will paint each cricket ground while photographers will create a picture archive for future generations.
There are about 60 village cricket grounds in Kirklees.
As well as the book, Dr Davies hopes to write a number of articles as the project develops.
The cash will allow Dr Davies to appoint a research assistant to help his work.
"I never thought that my main hobby, which is cricket, could become an academic thing."
Anyone who wishes to help should call Dr Davies on 01484 472359.