Sunday, 26 March 2017

April Fixtures

posted by John Winn

April 2nd Cambridge MCCU v Lancashire (3 days) Fenner's
Essex v Durham MCCU (3 days) Chelmsford
Hampshire v Cardiff MCCU (3 days) Southampton
Northants v Loughborough MCCU (3 days) Wantage Road
Oxford MCCU v Warwickshire (3 days) The Parks
Yorkshire v Leeds/Bradford (3days) MCCU Headingley
Glamorgan v  Notts (2 days) Cardiff
Kent v Surrey(2 days) Canterbury

April 3rd Notts II v Yorks II Notts Sports Club
Worcestershire v Gloucestershire (2 days) RGS Worcester
Middlesex v Durham (2 days) Merchant Taylor's School

April 6th Hants II v Lancs II (2 days) Southampton

April 7th County Championship (4 days)
Division 1
Essex v Lancs Chelmsford
Surrey v Warwickshire The Oval
Yorkshire v Hants Headingley

Division 2
Kent v Gloucestershire Canterbury
Leicestershire v Notts Grace Road
Northants v Glamorgan Wantage Road

Other matches
Cambridge MCCU v Middlesex (3days) Fenner's
Durham v Durham MCCU ( 3 days) Riverside
Leeds Bradford MCCU v Worcestershire (3 days) Weetwood
Loughborough MCCU v Derbyshire (3 days) Hazlegrave Ground
Somerset v Oxford MCCU ( 3 days) taunton
Sussex v Cardiff MCCU (3 days) Hove

April 10th
Essex/Kent II v Durham II ( 1 day) Billericay
Lancs II v  Yorkshire II (4 days F) Old Trafford

April 11th
Essex/Kent II v Durham II (3 days) Billericay

April 14th County Championship ( 4 days)
Division 1
Hampshire v Middlesex Southampton
Somerset v  Essex Taunton
Surrey v Lancashire The Oval
Warwickshire v Yorkshire Edgbaston
Division 2
Derbyshire v Northants Derby
Durham v Notts Riverside
Glamorgan v Worcs Cardiff
Gloucestershire v Leicestershire Bristol
Sussex v Kent Hove

April 15th
Huddersfield League, North East Premier League start

April 16th NYSD Sunday League starts

April 18th
Yorkshire II v  Gloucestershire II Headingley ( 3days) friendly

April 19th
Durham II v Scotland (3 days) friendly

April 21st County Championship ( 4 days)
Division 1
Hampshire v Yorkshire Southampton
Lancashire v Somerset Old Trafford
Middlesex v Essex Lord's
Warwickshire v Surrey Edgbaston
Division 2
Gloucestershire v Durham Bristol
Kent v Derbyshire Canterbury
Leicestershire v Glamorgan
Notts v Sussex Trent Bridge
Worcestershire v Northants

April 22nd most league cricket starts

April 25th
Yorks II v Lancs II SET Headingley

April 26th
Yorks II v Lancs II SET York

April 27th One day Cup
Durham v Derbyshire Riverside
Gloucestershire Glamorgan Bristol
Kent v Hampshire Canterbury
Middlesex v Sussex Lord's
Northants v  Warwickshire Wantage Road

April 28th One Day Cup
Lancashire v Leicestershire Old Trafford
Somerset v  Surrey Taunton

April 29th One Day Cup
Notts v Yorkshire Trent Bridge

Langbaurgh League starts

April 30th One Day Cup
Derbyshire v Northants Derby
Essex v Hants Chelmsford
Glamorgan v Surrey Cardiff
Leicestershire v  Worcestershire Grace Road
Middlesex v Gloucs Lord's
Sussex v Somerset Hove

Friday, 24 March 2017

Talking cricket precedes the action

Posted by Tony Hutton

Attending three very different meetings of cricket enthusiasts during a period of just four days last week has set the scene very nicely prior to the start of the season. Despite all that is going on in the world of cricket, which seems to have led to a certain Mr Harrison becoming the target for much unfavourable comment and has led to such luminaries as Geoffrey Boycott and Robin Marler almost quoting Private Fraser of 'Dad's Army' to suggest that we are all doomed, there is still an air of optimism in the land.

The first function I attended was the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians AGM at Derbys county ground, much changed in recent times. The star turn here was no less than M.J.K. Smith, who has been president for the last ten years. Despite advancing years, which has meant him standing down, he is still as bright as a button with a phenomenal memory of players and matches from long ago. He vividly recalled his first county appearance, for Leicestershire against Northants when he achieved the memorable dismissal of  'caught Fiddling bowled Nutter 0'. His one plea to the cricket administrators of today was to encourage more spin bowlers, a feeling obviously shared by the audience. For a start he insisted we should stop bringing in the boundaries in all forms of one day cricket as this does not help encourage spinners at all.

Despite the common problems of microphones which don't work and speakers who don't know how to use them when they do, the meeting produced a lot of enthusiasm for the game as we know it, if not the direction in which we all seem to be heading.
One notable speaker was Jim Hindson, once a Notts player, who now runs the amazing website Cricket Archive. He was there to justify the decision to make this a pay site, but I for one do not quibble with this. The amount of data available is unbelievable and well worth every penny of the modest subscription in my opinion.

The following day brought together a slightly smaller audience in members of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club Supporters Association at Headingley in the Long Room, which had hosted the Yorkshire A.G.M. the day before. Not much mention of the financial problems which had been aired on that occasion, but a most entertaining talk by Ralph Middlebrook on the cricketers of Pudsey, of which there are quite a few.

Ralph Middlebrook

These of course include three very great batsmen in John Tunnicliffe, Herbert Sutcliffe and Sir Leonard Hutton, but there are many others of slightly lesser abilities all with interesting stories as Ralph went through an A-Z of them all. The two major clubs in Pudsey are Pudsey St. Lawrence and Pudsey Congs (very much Ralph's own club) and as was to be expected he did tend to favour his own club's players over their local rivals. This was cricketing nostalgia at it's best. Another on the long list was Sir Leonard's son Richard, who will soon be installed as Yorkshire President in succession to the sadly missed John Hampshire.

Finally on Tuesday night we had the spring dinner of the Northern Cricket Society at Sandmoor Golf Club, Leeds. The guest of honour here was none other that Pat 'Percy' Pocock, former Surrey and England off spin bowler. The evening's menu paid tribute by re-printing the Sussex second innings scorecard in the game against Surrey at Eastbourne in August 1972 when Pocock set no less than three world records.

Pat Pocock

His amazing achievement on that day included five wickets in six balls, six wickets in nine balls and seven wickets in eleven balls as Sussex collapsed from 187-1 to 202 all out. Like M.J.K. Smith before him, he was apalled at the lack of spin bowlers in county cricket today, but felt that the generation gap between spinners of his age and those of today means that there are very few practicioners like him, who played much more matches and bowled far more overs, around now to teach the art of spin bowling.

After that serious bit 'Percy' told many tales of the happy times he had as both a Test and county player at a time when the game was perhaps more enjoyable and less serious than today. He obviously enjoyed his battles with Yorkshire, full of admiration for Close for his bravery, Trueman for his outspokeness and Illingworth as a tactical captain. One story I had not heard before concerned the Bedser twins in Australia, when Alec was in the Test team and Eric covering the tour for the Evening Standard.

England were batting so Alec went round the corner for a haircut at a local barber's shop. Later in the day Eric saw this and asked his brother where the barber's was and off he went too. Imagine the man's incredulity when the identical twin walked in and asked for a haircut -'blimey mate your hair doesn't half grow quick'.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Busy time for the postman

Posted by Tony Hutton

The expected avalanche of cricket related mail has started and two important A.G.M.s take place tomorrow, Yorkshire at Headingley and the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians at Derby. I shall be at Derby and look forward to hearing the retiring president M.J.K. Smith make his farewell speech.

The first of the cricket yearbooks to appear was the excellent county second XI annual edited by the indefatigable Howard Clayton. This provides a wealth of information about the host of players who appeared in county second eleven matches last season.
I have now been able to work out who all the unknown players for Northants seconds were at Market Harborough against Yorkshire. In fact Northants selected no less than sixty one players in their side last season, some of whom may make the grade but sadly the majority will no doubt return to obscurity.

Next to arrive was the equally admirable Cumberland county cricket year book edited by  Michael Latham who had again produced an excellent volume with many colour photographs which make this probably the best county yearbook you will find. One of his photographs was well worth selecting. This shows the Norfolk historian and their scorer with what should win the T shirt of the season award.

This volume has detailed match reports and scorecards of all Cumberland's Minor Counties games last season, pen pictures of all their players and photographs of every ground on which they have played home matches. All the county's records are there in abundance as well as a complete review of all the league cricket in the county last season. One sad note is the number of small village teams which can no longer carry on due to a lack of players, which I know is a growing problem in other parts of the country.

The latest to arrive, in mid-afternoon in fact, was all the Yorkshire literature for the coming season. The funeral of President John Hampshire is taking place today and we are told that the club have nominated Richard Hutton to take his place. An extraordinary general meeting will take place at 9 a.m. on Friday 7th April before the start of the opening county championship game with Hampshire at Headingley to confirm his election.

Lots more still to come no doubt!

Monday, 13 March 2017

1927, a shorter season

posted by John Winn

The forecast for Oxford on Thursday is dry with some sunshine, light cloud and 14 degrees Celsius. This should make both playing and watching cricket tolerable when Oxford University take on Gloucestershire in a one day friendly in The Parks. To say that such an inauspicious match marks the start of the cricket season will invite derision from many and I wrote a year ago about the stuttering start the English  summer game makes compared with its American cousin. But had I been in the Oxford area on Thursday, which I will not be, I would have been very happy to join what is likely to be a small but discerning crowd and make the first entry in my 2017 cricket diary, First class cricket will begin on March 28th, three days earlier than last year, when the MCC Universities take on county opposition. See our previous posting for all the early season fixtures.

So the season begins earlier and earlier, championship matches on April 7th, and yet stumps will not be drawn for the last time until almost the end of September with the ultimate round of county matches not beginning until the 25th of that month. All of which would have seemed incredible to our forefathers for whom cricket, at whatever level, was essentially played from the beginning of May to the end of August. With this in mind I have consulted my copy of Wisden for 1927, price five shillings, to see what the cricket season looked like 90 years ago.

1927, when Vera Lynn was 10, George V was on the throne, Stanley Baldwin was PM, the average house cost £619, an Atco mower from 30 guineas, Cardiff City beat Arsenal in the FA Cup Final, 1-0,

Wisden's five cricketers of the year were Bill Woodfull, Bill Oldfield, Harold Larwood, George Geary and John Mercer and less than 1p would get you your copy of  The Westminster Gazette, 'best morning paper for all sports'. The season began with cricket at Fenner's on April 27th, 'Seniors' Match', and the championship three days later when champions Lancashire entertained Warwickshire at Old Trafford. Yorkshire became Cambridge's first opponents the following week and on April 7th followed in Doctor Foster's footsteps with a trip to Gloucester. Highlights of that match were a stand of 274 between Holmes and Sutcliffe and a century for Wally Hammond and victory for Yorkshire by an innings and 21 runs. After Gloucester, Major Lupton's* men went to Cardiff and began their home campaign at Dewsbury with the return match with Gloucestershire, another innings victory. This marked the beginning of a run of six home matches, with Hull, Sheffield and Huddersfield among the venues.

The visitors that year were New Zealand, not yet considered worthy of test status. They began with a match against Hubert Martineau's XI on his private ground in Berkshire and finished off playing Leveson-Gower's side at Scarborough on September 10th (2 days). In between they had visited, among other places, Kettering, Broughty Ferry, Galshiels, Chiswick, Whitehaven and Wisbech. The championship just squeaked into September with games at Hove and Swansea beginning on August 31st, Lancashire retained their title, I never promised an easy read, with Notts second. There was of course no 'white ball cricket', and the season finished with its traditional festivals at Scarborough and Folkestone. For those within striking distance of North Marine Road, the programme comprised Yorkshire v MCC, Gentlemen v Players, MCC South African XI v Mr CI Thornton's XI and the tourists match. Only the third of these appears to have been affected by the weather. Not a bad cricketing holiday.

*Major Lupton, Yorkshire's amateur captain, played in 29 championship matches that year, went to the crease 23 times and scored 168 runs at an average of 8.84. He was replaced at the end of the season by Herbert Sutcliffe, a decision to which 'exception was taken by some members' who objected to the notion of a professional captain or would have preferred Rhodes. Sutcliffe cabled from South Africa to turn down the offer and the committee turned instead to Captain William Worsley, who had previously declined the captaincy in 1924 for business reasons. He did a little better than Lupton, but not much, and stood down after two seasons when he was replaced by Alan Theodore Barber shown below with his parents in 1929 after a game as captain of Oxford University

Copyright O Clissold

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A rare voice of reason

Posted by Tony Hutton

With the new cricket season fast approaching there is perhaps a feeling of apprehension rather than anticipation. The continuing debate about the future of T20 cricket in this country seems to overshadow all else. Added to which we now have proposals for increased disciplinary sanctions involving soccer style red and yellow cards.

Listening to some wise words from first class umpire Steve Garrett at the Northern Cricket Society last night gave some encouragement, in that he felt on field discipline was not a serious problem in the county game, although it certainly is in the recreational game.

The most sensible article on cricket's future I have read recently came from Simon Heffer in yesterday's Daily Telegraph. For instance he writes ' to some cricket lovers what happens in T20 is either an irrelevance, or an intrustion into somebody else's private grief. It is cricket, but not as we know it, or want to know it. Crowds may pour in, but it appears to have done little to encourage interest in long form cricket. All it has done, indeed, is cannibalise it.'

I also like his idea of county clubs running seperate T20 and first class teams, which is already in place for the Australian international sides. When the T20 team plays at home, the first class team plays away. His idea of returning to one division for the county championship also appeals to me, with games played over three days and a minimum of 120 overs per day.

Heffer feels that this would allow real cricket to breathe. It would allow it to survive when T20 has bored everyone to tears. I particularly like his comment on the lack of marketing of the county championship, as I have campaigned for years for a 'Match of the Day' highlights programme on T.V. Championship cricket is an excellent product but it needs to be sold like anything else.

For the present however we are stuck with the current ridiculous fixture list, with all the proper county cricket crammed into the beginning and end of the season. Come what may, hypothermia or not, I am planning to be at Fenners on 28th March to greet the new season.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Fixtures for March and early April

posted by John Winn

Many of our readers will no doubt be aware that the county championship begins in a little over a month's time, Friday April 7th, an early start which is reflected in dates for  the counties' warm up matches, hence this list of fixtures.

March 16th Oxford MCCU v Gloucestershire (1 day) The Parks

March 19th Somerset v Gloucestershire (3 days) Taunton

March 22nd Sussex v Surrey (3 days) Hove

March 23rd Somerset v Glamorgan (2 days) Taunton

March 24th Oxford MCCU v St Edward's School (1day) The Parks

March 27th Sussex v Somerset (2 days) Hove
                    Glamorgan v Gloucestershire (1 day) Cardiff

March 28th Cambridge MCCU v  Notts (3 days) Fenner's
                    Glamorgan v Cardiff MCCU (3 days) Cardiff (Swalec)
                    Gloucestershire v Durham MCCU (3 days) Bristol
                    Kent v Leeds/Bradford MCCU ( 3 days) Canterbury
                    Leicestershire v Loughborough MCCU ( 3 days) *
                    Oxford MCCU v Surrey ( 3 days) The Parks
                    Warwickshire v Northants (2 days) Edgbaston

March 30th Sussex v Hants (2 days) Hove

March 31st Warwickshire v Leicestershire (50 over) Edgbaston

April 2nd   Cambridge MCCU v  Lancashire ( 3 days) Fenner's
                   Essex v Durham MCCU ( 3 days) Chelmsford
                   Hants v Cardiff MCCU ( 3 days) Southampton
                   Northants v Loughborough MCCU ( 3 days) Wantage Road
                   Oxford MCCU v Warwickshire ( 3days) The Parks
                   Yorkshire v Leeds/Bradford MCCU ( 3 days) Headingley
                   Glamorgan v Notts (2 days) Cardiff
                   Kent v Surrey ( 2 days) Canterbury

April 3rd    Notts II v Yorkshire II ( 2 days) Lady Bay, Nottingham
                   Worcestershire v Gloucestershire ( 2days) Royal Grammar School Worcester
                   Middlesex v Durham ( 2 days) Merchant Taylor's School

April 6th     Hants II v Lancashire II ( 2 days) Southampton

April 7th    County Championship begins

* some sources give this match as being played at Loughborough but I have confirmed with Leicestershire that it will be at Grace Road.
According to the Notts website their second XI is playing at Loughborough University on this date (28th March for 3 days) against presumably a University 2nd XI.

5 days cricket in The Parks in Match, not sure what CB Fry would have made of that. In any case he had better ways to spend the early spring days for on 20th March 1895 he pleaded guilty to extinguishing five street lamps in Oxford High Street for which he was fined £2 plus 7/6d costs. The alternative was fourteen days in jail.


Monday, 27 February 2017

Langbaurgh Land

posted by John Winn

The minutes of the Langbaurgh League AGM, held on February 6th, are now published and they confirm the resignations of Craythorne and Skelton Castle from the league. Westerdale CC have been admitted to the league from the Eskdale League.

The net loss of one club, sad as it is, has left the league conveniently with twenty teams and, as one might expect these will be organised in two divisions of ten. Moorsholm are reprieved from relegation by virtue of Craythorne's resignation.

Having been away from home for much of the last two weeks I had missed the announcement of the draw for the 2017 National Village Cup which this year will be sponsored by Pipers' Crisps. The first round will be played on Sunday April 30th and holders Sessay will play Scarborough Beckett League Champions, Staithes, away.

 In Scotland,  Falkland CC, always strong opponents in this competition are away to Kilmacolm with the other three Scottish entries receiving byes. Sessay's opponents in last year's final, Kent outfit Sibton Park, will travel to Castle Hill CC who play their cricket in Brenchley near Tonbridge. The full draw is available at

Sessay CC, near Thirsk