Keeling family set world record by fielding 11 players from their clan

Sudipta / 31 August 2016

Keeling family set a world record over the Bank Holiday weekend by fielding a cricket team made up entirely of fathers and sons.

They play an annual match in Sedlescombe village since World War Two.

But the family said has always included one or two non-Keelings…until this year, which proved a dizzying headache for the people keeping the scorebook.

“For the first time in its history of over fifty years, there will be only Keelings on the Keeling side, which must be some sort of record,” said team spokesman Paul Keeling, 22, before they proudly took the field.

“In the past, the Keelings team has always included one or two ringers but this year it will be an all-family affair.

“We will be putting out a side including four brothers and seven of their sons, which we reckon sets a world record.

“The fixture was started by my grandfather, I think, before the Second World War and my dad and uncles played.

“It was only played once, perhaps twice at that time and did not start again until the 1960s.

“Since then it has been played nearly every year with the 50th match a couple of years ago.”

The match was played at Sedlescombe CC’s village ground near Hastings, East Sussex, on Sunday.

The team this year was Tom Keeling, 54, Arthur Keeling, 22, Edward Keeling, 18, Jim Keeling, 52, Joshua Keeling, 16, Paul Keeling 50, Ted Keeling, 22, Simon Keeling, 59, Harry Keeling, 30, Jasper Keeling 21, and Zak Keeling 18.

For the eighty years, the Keelings have dreamt of putting out an all family 11.

In the past, they have come agonizingly close, once fielding 10 Keelings but having to fill the final spot with a distant cousin of a different name.

On Sunday, however, the long held ambition was finally and victoriously released as four brothers and their seven sons, spanning an age range of 18 to 59, smashed their local opposition with 10 overs to  spare.

The annual August Bank Holiday game is the legacy of the late Sir John Keeling, who first mustered a family-led the team to take on the village before the second World War.

The fixture resumed in 1965 and ever since the family has wanted to put out a team sheet boasting a single surname.

Paul Keeling, 50, who captained the winning team, said he believed his family had set a world record.

“It was lovely – it might have happened before but I’ve certainly never heard of it, although I’m not an anorak so I haven’t checked through the whole of Wisden.

“I’m one of eight brothers so there are quite a lot of first cousins lurking about. We even had spare Keelings this year!”

Family dominance against the Sedlescombe 11 has ebbed and flowed in recent years, however, Sunday’s  performance saw the Keeling team bowl the village side out for 147 in 33 overs, then go on to match that total in the next innings in just overs.

Mr. Keeling revealed, however, that the family fairytale was almost scuppered before it began by an unlikely culprit, his own father, 90 year Michael.

“He is pretty competitive and he was determined for us to use my niece’s boyfriend, as he’s very good.

“But I said ‘Dad, you can’t because we’ve finally got 11 Keelings, how can you possibly turn away one of your own relations’?”

The Keelings have traditionally fared far better with the bat than the ball.

“We have never really thought of ourselves as bowlers, and if you don’t turn up with five who can bowl a bit then you’re in trouble” admitted Paul.

“But in the end, we bowled them all out, which must have been quite disappointing for the opposition.”

Man of the match plaudits went to the winning side’s youngest player, 18-year-old Joshua, who made sixty runs and took three wickets.

One Sedlescombe batsman managed 55, but three of their 11 batsmen out for a duck.

Paul Keeling has now passed on the baton of organizing the annual game to his 30-year-old nephew Henry, who will ensure the historic rivalry continues.

“It was fantastic – we can easily go a year without all seeing each other, but when we do we all get on. It’s a very easy team to captain.”