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.

The April the Corner was occupied by the Treasurers Trove.


September 2019

Wow, what an English season so far; and with five Ashes Tests in less than seven weeks up to 16 September anything I write now about that series will have been overtaken by rapidly unfolding events. With the balance between bat and ball expected to tilt towards the latter, and one day cricket techniques and approaches increasingly finding their way into the first class game, it will be interesting to see how many of the 30 scheduled days will have been needed. The extra daily overs allocated to the four day Lord’s Test against Ireland were, disappointingly, not delivered; but within the context of the match were not needed. As one correspondent emailed to me, “Will the Cricket Society be starting a Campaign for Bad Pitches? Much more exciting than the ‘good ones’, which produce 550 v 450 (though not great for Saturday ticket sales).”

The World Cup produced some excellent cricket, a few surprises, and for the England follower the longed for result. I hadn’t been closer to retreating behind the settee since Eden Hazard equalized against Tottenham Hotspur at Stamford Bridge in April 2016 and there were only a few minutes to get through before Leicester City’s Premiership triumph became certain. And before that as the Edgbaston Test in 2005 reached its climax. Both ODI and Test cricket have the capacity to ebb and flow over sustained periods and keep spectators at the matches, and others watching in a variety of ways, on the edges of their real and virtual seats. Long may that continue. And with the next generations of Cricket Society members likely to be at least as keen on the shorter as the longer forms of the game, I hope that our publications in particular can reflect that. Look out for member Mick Kelly’s take on the World Cup in the autumn Journal.

Well done Australian women on retaining the women’s Ashes. I enjoyed the second of the ODIs at Grace Road although there, as throughout the mixed format series, England were outclassed. Part of the reason seems systemic, and I look forward to sharing Ellie Wookey’s views on the Ashes with you in the Journal. Raf Nicholson’s you will probably find in her column elsewhere in this issue; if not, certainly on her website.

It is fascinating observing spectator behaviour at different kinds of cricket matches. There was a subdued but quietly appreciative atmosphere at the women’s ODI I attended. At Lord’s, where thankfully it remains possible to take in a glass bottle of wine, the large Irish presence ensured a relaxed and joyful environment. The World Cup’s carnival atmosphere has become standard wherever it is played. At well attended 20/20 matches there is often a prevailing raucousness. Cricket reflects society and is not immune from offensive behaviour. Hardly surprising in this English summer where a woman was fined a large sum for disrupting an air flight, Wimbledon umpires had to deal with play interruptions and hand out warnings because of popping champagne corks, and The Times reported on clashes between theatre audience segments with markedly different ideas about acceptable behaviour.

Your Executive Committee - augmented by Vice President Chris Lowe and members Jenny Heald and Janet King – were impeccably behaved when meeting in July at The Oval to discuss some important Cricket Society issues. These include retention and recruitment of members, a greater focus on women’s cricket, publications and other products, relationships with Branches, and process modernization (eg to introduce the option of on-line payments), and how best to take this work forward over the next 12 months or so. Two points now.

First, we have agreed to survey existing members about what we already provide and what we might provide in future; and perhaps potential member groups to explore in particular what would make them join. There have been no recent member surveys, and we could do more to conduct ‘exit polls’ when members leave us voluntarily. Several years ago I surveyed those attending London meetings; this helped us move to more of a mix of daytime and evening meetings and earlier evening starts and finishes, and to arrange meetings at venues other than the Royal Over-Seas League (which we finally left during 2018, closing our library in the process). The North East Branch held a similar exercise a year or two ago.

So please look out for these surveys, which we will probably email to you but at the same time alert you to in the Bulletin and on the website, offering to provide paper copies as requested. What does The Cricket Society do well? What could it do better? How do you rate the Bulletin and Journal and how could they be improved? How do you rate our meetings and what could be improved there? What should we do as a society to encourage new members, including female members (there are only about 70 out of 1700 at present), to join? The precise form of the questions is being worked on. There won’t be many of them. As ever, please let me or others on the EC have any comments you want to make without being asked for them.

Second, The Cricket Society is 75 next year, on 7 November 1945 precisely, and we are thinking about how best to mark that. Derek Barnard is leading for us on that and if you wish please let him know your ideas and views. There may be merchandise, perhaps including a sweatshirt, and of course features in our publications. But the focus of the celebrations will probably be a single event at which it would be good to have a cross-section of members, not least some of you who have been members for a long time. Also under consideration, and for discussion with our Branches, is reviving for a year having a touring cricketing panel at each of The Cricket Society’s four venues across the country.

Nigel Hancock