THE 2013 Minor Counties Cricket Festival dates and participants have been confirmed.

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The under-12s competition will take place the Royal Hospital School at Holbrook, near Ipswich from Saturday, August 3 until Wednesday, August 7.

The following counties are confirmed: Cumbria, Cleveland, Northumberland, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, The Netherlands and hosts, Suffolk.

The under-11s festival will be held from Friday, August 9 until Monday, August 12.

The following counties are attending: Cumbria, Cleveland, Northumberland, Pembrokeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk, North Essex District, and new to 2013, are Huntingdonshire and Metropolitan Essex District.

The festivals started in 1999 with the under 11s and were the idea of the former professional cricketer, Don Topley who is now a schoolmaster at RHS.

The more competitive under-12 competition, which is sponsored by the Ipswich Building Society, began in 2005, with host county Suffolk winning the inaugural trophy.

The under-11s four-day event is much more of a festival where participating counties can opt to play the match they choose and ensure their squads all participate in an excellent and encouraging friendly atmosphere.

Seven former ‘old boys’ of the festivals have now gone on to be full-time professional cricketers with first-class counties, having first played their initial representative cricket with these minor counties junior age-groups. Five of these talented boys have represented England Under 19s at international level, in the last year.

Don Topley said: “We are indebted to RHS for staging the festivals which are acclaimed the best in the country. To have over 350 talented young cricketers playing our great game of cricket is extremely inspiring, most of which are on their first formal cricket tour.”

He added “These events bring a significant income into the local community too, with so many families visiting and staying around the Shotley Peninsula.”

These prestigious festivals have also seen former England internationals, Mike Gatting, Nick Knight and Darren Gough visit RHS to watch proceedings in recent years.

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