Chairman's Corner

In each of our regular New Bulletins the Chairman, Nigel Hancock, writes his observations on Cricket Society matters. You can read the latest edition below.

 

October 2018

It was a Friday evening when, in November 1963, the news broke on television that John Kennedy had been shot, and I remember putting away the school homework I had wanted to finish ahead of the weekend proper with whatever combination of paper rounds, football, Saturday Club on the radio, Juke Box Jury and 45s on my Dansette record player awaited. It was also a Friday when, on an otherwise turgid day of Test cricket at The Oval, Alastair Cook scored his first innings 71 in the fifth Test against India. Like most others there, I was willing him not to be out until he had scored at least 100. It was a bit like every innings watching David Gower and never wanting him out. In Kolkata in December 2012, I recalled how enamoured had been young Indian supporters with England’s prolific opener (he did score 190 there and 562 runs in the four Tests) and, here nearby in The Oval’s OCS, cricket’s capacity to cross tribal boundaries was clear as two British Indians repeatedly held-up a hand-written banner thanking Alastair for his cricket over many years. The Cricket Society deserves some credit of course – Alastair was in 2005 selected the recipient of our Most Promising Young Cricketer Award. He still seemed young, self-effacing and modest, when our treasurer Phil Reeves and I met him recently at a Chance to Shine reception.

The first innings was emotional enough and I can only imagine what it must have been like on memorable Monday as the final milestone was reached. Even the press were clapping I learn from TMS, with our distinguished vice president Vic Marks sitting in the crowd better to join in and relish the moment. I was multi-tasking in the bar at Grace Road, half watching Leicestershire bat badly against Warwickshire, keeping an eye on Cook’s progress, and listening to the always erudite social historian Eric Midwinter on a range of cricketing and non-cricketing matters. As the moment approached, I had to turn Eric around to face the TV in the bar or, I suspect uniquely, he would have been the only cricket follower to have missed Cook's final Test century whilst musing on medical theories of masturbation across the centuries!

Eric, a long-standing Cricket Society member and regular contributor to The Journal, was chairman of our Book of the Year competition when I took over running it as my first working foray into Cricket Society affairs. His successor Vic Marks stood down after the 2018 award earlier this year. We and MCC – it is a joint appointment – expect soon, most probably on cricketsociety.com , to announce his successor for the 2019 competition. Meanwhile, as Graeme Swann seeks to impress the four Strictly Come Dancing judges, our four sprightly BOTY equivalents – Mike Selvey, Robert Winder, Chris Lowe and John Symons – have started to read this year’s nominations, which I set out below. As Cricket Society members you may nominate – to me please – other cricket books published during 2018 for them to consider. The awards evening, which tends to sell-out quickly, will as usual be held in the Long Room at Lord’s next April: look out for details later in the year or early next.

- Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket, Stephen Fay and David Kynaston, Bloomsbury

- The Test: A Novel, Nathan Leamon, Constable

- Eleven Gods and a Billion Indians, Boris Majunbar, Simon and Schuster

- Cardus Uncovered: Neville Cardus, The Truth, the Untruth and the Higher Truth, Christopher O'Brien, Whitethorn Range Publishing

- Pavilions in Splendour, The Cricket Pavilions and Grounds of Cheshire, Geoff Wellsteed, Max Books

- England, The Biography: The Story of English Cricket, Simon Wilde, Simon and Schuster

Already sold out is our Autumn Lunch in that other Long Room at The Oval with, as reported elsewhere in this Bulletin, a waiting-list for ‘returns’ in place. Not many member organisations run to two dinners or lunches a year. Our new venue for London meetings – the Union Jack Club at Waterloo – offers scope for further intimate cricket occasions with food and drink and we will consider adding them in the light of demand. It should be an excellent setting when next August we welcome there an expected 50 visiting Australian supporters for a cricket film and supper evening during the Lord’s Ashes Test (details to follow when settled). Meanwhile, we and The Cricket Society Branches have arranged for you enticing winter programmes of meetings in London, Bath, Edgbaston and Chester-le-Street, details of which are on the back page as usual.

I am conscious that many of you are unable to attend our meetings and other events and that membership of The Cricket Society means receiving our publications, and of course supporting all that we do for cricket through our awards: extraordinary value for money I hope you will agree. Please encourage or treat people you know to join us. As you reflect on the summer’s cricket – Surrey and England supporters with particular pleasure no doubt – I hope that you enjoy The Journal that comes with this Bulletin mailing. It includes a new You are the Umpire feature by Richard Heller, articles by Christopher Sandford on Denis Compton and MCC’s 1958-59 tour of South Africa and a fascinating piece by Martin Howe on mainly 1930s wicket-keeper Paul Gibb. Member and former Surrey cricketer Norman Parks writes about his call-up by Surrey to The Oval in 1955 and Charles Barr focuses on cricketing schoolmasters from 1949. Read on and enjoy.

NIGEL HANCOCK