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. 

May/June 2020

Hello everyone, we all have our concerns these days. I am conscious that we will all have been close to or have known someone who has died with Covid-19. The demography of The Cricket Society’s membership means that a significant proportion of us and our relatives and close friends will be over 70. Some of all ages will have underlying health conditions. All of us will have unprecedented concerns and constraints. The lists of recent deaths we include in each Bulletin, along with details of new members, are likely increasingly to have within their number people directly affected by the current public health crisis. Please keep as safe as you can in your particular circumstances.


I included in a recent email a message from our President John Barclay and repeat it here:
“The pace of events and the necessary precautions have, I’m sure, taken us all by surprise. A shock too. In the meantime keep yourselves as safe and secure as possible during which time I know The Cricket Society will try to provide you with morsels of comfort to help keep up spirits. And, at the end of it all, when we’ve all been through the tunnel and emerged to the light on the other side, we will have an even richer appreciation of all we love and treasure, including our cricket.”


I compose this text in mid-April, this year the cruellest of cruel months. Please bear in mind that there is an unavoidable time-lag of several weeks between the Bulletin’s going to print and your receiving it. Our most up to date information is on cricketsociety.com and in the occasional email we send to those of you who have consented to hearing from us at the specific email address you have provided. If you are not hearing from us and want to, please provide your preferred email address to davidwood@cricketsociety.com

This issue includes an obituary, also on cricketsociety.com , of Ken Merchant who until he relinquished the reins last year was Secretary of our sister organisation The Cricket Society Trust. Ken worked tirelessly for cricketing causes, personified the workings of the Trust and was a great supporter of The Cricket Society; he will be much missed.  Also covered is Jack Endacott, a former Chairman of our West Of England Branch, who died in March two months shy of reaching 90.


Events, services to members
John Symons sets out for us on the back page those of our events that at present have been postponed or cancelled, and what we have so far sought to make available on the website for your information and entertainment.  Those of you who booked tickets for the 27 March Spring Awards Lunch at The Oval are being contacted individually about the switch to 30 October and refund arrangements. It will be possible to switch your booking to 30 October and still have a refund up to the point that food is ordered earlier that month. A very small number of people had booked for the days at the cricket with no money banked or passed on. We hope that it will be possible to hold later in the year the postponed Book of the Year Award 2020 evening at Lord’s.


Our twitter account @CricketSociety run by Phil Reeves has been sending out some interesting stuff in the lockdown. This includes questions about cricket poetry, art, and photos. Also requests for help to create an XI of London tube station names and memories of playing Howzat. Why not follow us and take part? Phil reported a shortage of batsmen for his Underground XI but, perhaps on orthographical grounds, did not seem impressed by my double offering of (Marcus) North Greenwich (Gordon) …

The article in this Bulletin by Michael Knox and Douglas Miller about all-time England XIs reveals the tip of an iceberg of email exchanges involving a dozen or so of members, a climate change resisting iceberg that has moved on to explore such subjects as county teams, first Test matches attended, cricket literature and favourite cricket grounds. In the process the scale of cricketing knowledge and erudition of Cricket Society members has become abundantly clear.

At the time of writing, we are exploring with Marcus Berkmann, author of the recent Berkmann’s Miscellany, the scope for on-line quiz events he is willing to run for us and MCC.

Nick Tudball - and colleagues at our three Branches, in Bath, Chester-le-Street and Brmingham - are planning programmes of meetings from the autumn. The Club Lottery has gone ahead with strong interest from members.  The Cricket Society XI are enjoying a virtual season with imagined reports from the Bulletin’s editor. The Spring Journal will be with you with the paper version of the  Bulletin in mid May. It has a good set of articles and reviews and comes with stronger binding and more colour. You will receive the Autumn Journal, with a clutch of articles about our 75th anniversary, in November. I would like to include reminiscences from members – on the theme of The Cricket Society and me – and please send them to me by email


Following cricket without cricket
April’s first week should have seen, on consecutive nights in the Long Room at Lord’s, first our annual Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award evening and then the launch of Wisden 2020.  Or was their demise a bad dream? The email from our Chair of Judges to his team on the morning of the former began, “ Just to say I am looking forward to seeing you all later at Lord’s … I have a carefully prepared but studiously off-the-cuff speech close by …”. Ah, but it continued “it looks as though we will have to keep our result secret for another ... however long this is going to take. … When Isaac Newton had to leave Cambridge in the Great Plague of 1665, he sneaked away and wrote Principia Mathematica. In any other year that might have won our prize, but it was a very strong list that summer, what with the ghosted reminiscences of Oliver Cromwell (Heads Must Roll) the tour diary of Charles II and John Milton’s epic study of the forward defensive ... “.

At least Wisden was launched on 9 April. I had expected my copy to arrive courtesy of our sports loving local postman Charlie (a Leeds United supporter with views on the completion of current leagues and who follows cricket too, now partly through our recent publications). “I know what this is”, he would have beamed when (safely) passing over the easily recognisably sized package. But no it was delivered in a large white van by Bashir from Redditch, who was quick in his broad West Midlands accent to share his reverence for Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and other prominent Pakistani cricketers from various eras.

I wonder how many of you have your annual Wisdens, and what you look at first. There was a time, particularly in trophy-laden seasons, when I skipped straight to the pages about Leicestershire. Now it’s first to the Books in the Wisden Review, a look at Vic Marks’s account of the Newlands Test to make sure I hadn’t just dreamt it but was there, and then to the Cricket Society references. We have an advertisement on page 168, our list of award winners on page 1498, and a reference to the Journal on page 137. Raf Nicholson reports somewhere on women’s cricket. The section on cricket books is punctuated with a two page spread (124-25) about Stephen Chalke, our West Midlands Chairman and much, much more.

Easter gone and April slipping by, the second round of Championship matches should be in play, under unaccustomed blue skies. The other Sky has a fair amount of canned cricket in its schedules. I have watched just the re-runs of last summer’s World Cup Final and the final day of the Headingley Ashes Test. Both had much extraordinary cricket and I tried, almost successfully, to convince myself that it was happening live. The buzz of morning conversation from the Lord’s crowd was a timely reminder of what we are missing (and a good Desert Islands Disc choice I mused). The crowd scenes at both venues were reminders of the extraordinary tensions and passions that cricket can prompt, and of how followers divided by different team allegiances and much else can sit by side in (well, almost) perfect harmony.  This may turn out to be the year without cricket, but it will be back and bring with it well remembered pleasures and anxieties.

Nigel Hancock