Former England skipper Gatting opens pavilion
MIKE Gatting officially opened Merstham's new pavilion, to the delight of hundreds of club members.
And the former England captain went away delighted with a special club shirt - as well as a cake - to commemorate his 55th birthday.
Bernard Feist, who has managed the £240,000 project that includes a second playing area for juniors, said he cut the ribbon and made a speech to onlookers.
He said: "He was absolutely delighted we gave him a shirt with 'Happy Birthday' on it.
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"He was very good. He signed all the autographs people wanted and he was pleased to talk to everyone."
However, he didn't agree to take part in the match between club members and those who had helped with the project, which was halted at 4pm because of the Jubilee day rain. Feist jested: "To a certain extent you can't blame him [for not playing]. He wouldn't want to be bowled first ball."
The project's cost was mostly paid for through grants, with some club fundraising.
An England Cricket Board grant was supported by other funding from trusts, the borough council, Biffa Waste Management (drainage work) and Bellway and Shanley Homes.
A large part of the ECB funding came because of Merstham's commitment to players with disabilities and a ten-over game was played between two sides before the main game began.
At the event, one family's contribution to the club received special merit, with the presentation of the Perium Cup.
Given annually to a person who has made a key contribution, it went to the McGillivray family, husband and wife Bob and Sylvia and their children Lesley and Ian.
Unfortunately, Gatting's presence has not inspired an improvement in Merstham's first team's fortunes.
They followed his visit with another defeat last weekend in the Fuller's League Division One.
Guildford posted 228-5, with bowler Henry Gane returning 4-76 before the hosts slumped to 72 all out, opener Joe Shinners top-scoring with 29.