In retrospect, the origins of many sports teams appear accidental, yet inevitable. Metronomes Cricket Club is no exception. No one planned to bring a motley crew of disparate cricket fans from Twitter, mostly complete strangers with a huge range of sporting abilities and experience, together to form a charity club to play in aid of autism - but when they did it worked so well to seem an obvious thing to do. The Metronomes cricket team is the child of well-known cricket social media power couple Bex and Michael Coleman; a team that is very much a product of “Cricket Twitter”, and appropriately, that is where the story started.
In early 2022, the TWS Sports Podcast asked Bex to promote their cause for the ‘equality and social impact’ category in the annual sports podcast awards. Not previously familiar with TWS Sport Podcast, Bex diligently listened and did some research: TWS started during a 2021 Covid lockdown as a podcast hosted by autistic students from Tettenhall Wood School in the West Midlands to develop the ‘communication, social skills, and increasing their knowledge of technology’ of students. With an autistic son, this is a cause close to home for Bex and Michael, so she was happy to spread the message (to jump ahead, happily TWS Sports Podcast did win the award). After spreading this and her own story, Bex was approached by yet another institution Heaven Help Us Cricket Club with an invitation to play a charity game for autism awareness and raise money for National Autistic Society: the cricket team was born.
Bex had a fixture but no players. She put out a Twitter call for cricketers who would be willing to play in a new charity XI; she was bombarded with responses. A team was formed that did not have a name, kit, nor venue, but had a whole bunch of players from all over the country attracted by a genuine desire to help and be part of a greater cricket community. Michael created a WhatsApp group gathering everyone together and it was here that The Metronomes were named. Jacob – Bex and Michael’s son – was fond of a comforting metronome in his room so it was fitting that this would be honoured in the new team’s name.
The team ballooned from there. Bex messaged Matt Tuffs from Ambition Sport who was already in the team and immediately set about designing a kit (with all profits going to National Autistic Society). The logo of a metronome on a rainbow flag was designed to reflect the team’s open and inclusive nature, as anyone is welcome to play (previous experience not required) or support the Metronomes.
Alongside the match, an auction was held alongside the inaugural fixture. Items were kindly donated by County teams and individuals; an eventual highlight being a bidding war for Micky Arthur’s iconic short shorts. These items, along with the kit and fundraising on the day generated over £3000 for Autism UK.
As word spread, extraordinarily the team ranks were boosted by the inclusion of Brazil Captain Roberta Moretti Avery. A handful of ‘Gnomes players were regular players, a few had not played for a long time, and a few others had not played at all, but they could now boast an international captain.
If this were a straightforward story, The Metronomes would have formed and then played a match versus Heaven Help Us as arranged. As things are never simple, it did not work out this way. During the preparation period it turned out that Heaven Help Us Cricket Club had fallen apart, so the ‘Gnomes had no opponents. With much in motion, this meant a lot of behind-the-scenes stress and worry for Bex and Michael. Luckily, the Gnomes had some guardian angels: chief among them, Yusuf Kayat who organised a team and ground at Spen Victoria, meaning the Metronomes had opponents after all. A recurring theme has been that people have gone above and beyond with their generosity to help the Metronomes.
Match day finally arrived. Following a rousing speech by Captain Simon Ashmore (replacing an injured Bex), the Metronomes formed a huge, intimidating slip cordon for Michael Coleman’s first ball, with live commentary from John Collins and Matt Richmond. Isaac Lockett starred with the ball by taking the first ever Gnomes’ wicket to finish with stand-out figures of 3-9; Roberta Moretti Avery bowled Colson Smith, which is probably the first instance in history of a Brazil cricket Captain dismissing a Coronation Street actor; and special mention must go to Matthew Parker who had never bowled before but took the wicket of Tommy Stewart from the Murali End Podcast. Set 176 to win, Matt Tuffs hit the Gnomes’ first ever six in an opening stand with the dogged Jimbob Himsworth. Unsurprisingly, Moretti Avery top-scored in the innings (batters had to retire at 30), sharing a productive partnership with Bobson Dugnutt. The Gnomes fell short, but not before WG RumblePants had the chance to bat, be dismissed, yet stay in by declaring they’d come to “watch him bat, not you bowl”. Both teams celebrated with an incredible Bradford curry in the pavilion, to finish an excellent day in which the weather even cooperated.
This is not the end of Metronomes story: many more fixtures are planned. The club is open to everyone and will play various fixtures throughout England. You are welcome to join!