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Milburn play to tour county grounds

Colin Milburn, wearing an eyepatch after his accident, does commentary for the BBC Hulton Archive

A new play on the tragic decline of former England and Northamptonshire batsman Colin Milburn will visit all 18 county cricket clubs in November.

When the Eye Has Gone is a one-man show that has been written by James Graham-Brown, the former Kent and Derbyshire all-rounder turned playwright, and is being produced by Live Wire/Roughhouse Theatre in association with the Professional Cricketers' Association.

The play is set in the North Briton pub in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham on February 28 1990, the last day of Milburn's life and the end of his performance as 'Jolly Ollie', the character he had developed to conceal his insecurities and suffering.

Milburn, whose destructive career was cut short by the loss of the sight in his left eye in a car accident in May 1969, died in the North Briton car park aged 48 after he drifted into chronic alcoholism.

All county clubs have agreed to support the PCA in putting on the play around the country, partly with the intention of helping current players appreciate the importance of planning for life after cricket.

"This new, exciting initiative focuses on what can happen when a playing career suddenly ends and a player struggles with a difficult transition," said Jason Ratcliffe, PCA Assistant Chief Executive. "Ollie's story puts this into sharp focus."

When the Eye Has Gone, which is also supported by the Arts Council, will begin its nationwide tour at Somerset's Taunton headquarters on November 1 and will visit all 18 county grounds before the final performance at Wantage Road, Milburn's old Northampton stamping ground, on November 24.

Auditions for the role of Milburn have just taken place and the identity of the actor who will play the role will be announced shortly.

Graham-Brown, who writes under the name Dougie Blaxland, has written 32 plays, 14 of which have been produced in professional theatre.

When the Eye Has Gone' is the PCA's 2016 initiative to promote mental health and wellbeing.

Dates:

October: 28 & 29: Lansdown CC, Bath, 30 Dorchester Arts.

November: 1 Somerset (The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton), 2 Gloucestershire CCC (The Brightside Ground, Bristol), 3 Glamorgan (The SSE SWALEC, Cardiff), 4 Worcestershire (New Road, Worcester), 7 Warwickshire (Edgbaston), 8 Lancashire (Emirates Old Trafford), 9 Derbyshire (The 3aaa County Ground, Derby - TBC), 10 Yorkshire (Headingley Carnegie), 11 Durham (Emirates Riverside, Chester-le-Street), 12 Burnopfield CC, 14 Essex (The Essex County Ground, Chelmsford), 15 Kent (The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury), 16 Sussex (The 1st Central County Ground, Hove), 17 Surrey (The Kia Oval), 18 Middlesex (Lord's), 19 Teddington CC, 21 Hampshire (Ageas Bowl), 22 Leicestershire (Fischer County Ground, Leicester), 23 Nottinghamshire (Trent Bridge Inn, Nottingham), 24 Northamptonshire (County Ground, Northampton), 25 West Hallam CC.

More information: www.ticketsource.co.uk/the-professional-cricketers-association