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.

 

July/August 2018

I compose these notes from Parkmill on The Gower, a short walk from Shepherds, the local store dating from 1896, more recently with coffee shop and holiday cottage complex added, and run for many years until 1996 by Glamorgan’s Don Shepherd and family. The pasties are pretty good and would have sold well at St Helen’s. In Swansea itself, a visit to the house at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive where Dylan Thomas was born and grew up and worked on two thirds of his literary output reminded me of the poet’s cricketing links. Cigarette cards of 1930s cricketers are among the memorabilia and manuscripts that adorn his untidy desk. John Arlott was among Dylan’s friends and drinking chums, as most recently recorded in Stephen Fay and David Kynaston’s newly published Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket. “But Dylan was no good at playing cricket” stressed the house-museum’s curator.

The 2017-18 cricket book prize season ended as it began with the winner of the Cricket Writers’ Club award also prevailing in the cricket category of the Sports Book Awards. In between Wisden’s cricket book of the year was Jonny Bairstow and Duncan Hamilton’s A Clear Blue Sky and Harry Pearson’s Connie: The Marvellous Life of Learie Constantine won our own Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award. Nick Tudball reports: “There was a strong cricket theme to this year’s Sports Book Awards held in the Nursery Pavilion at Lord’s on 7 June. I felt honoured to attend and to represent The Cricket Society. Many of the shortlisted authors attended the event. It was an inspiring evening because so many of the winners and those shortlisted for awards have a strong story to tell. Cricketers present included Graeme Swann, Jonny Bairstow and Bob Willis. Sir Tim Rice was also there.

The award for the cricket book of the year was sponsored by The Heartaches, Sir Tim Rice’s cricket team which he formed in 1973. The judges were Bob Willis, Sir Tim Rice, Isa Guhu and The Cricket Society's own Derek Barnard. Their choice as cricket book of the year was Over and Out by Steve Neal. In announcing the award Bob Willis said the research that had gone in to this book about Albert Trott “The Man who Cleared the Lord’s Pavilion” was “absolutely extraordinary”.

The award for Outstanding Contribution to Sports Writing was presented to the cricket writer, John Woodcock. John saw his first First Class match at Oxford in 1933 and his first Test in 1936. He reported on his first Test match for The Manchester Guardian in 1952 and has written for The Times for 63 years. He was The Times cricket correspondent for 35 years and also edited six editions of Wisden. Alex Bannister of the Daily Mail told him to remember that he was not a “journalist” but a “cricket writer”. As Woodcock was not able to attend, a short film was shown on the evening with Mike Atherton talking to John Woodcock at his home in Hampshire; this included warm tributes from Mark Nicholas and Henry Blofeld, who described Woodcock as his greatest friend.

Jonny Bairstow spoke about writing his book, interweaving his life and career with his father’s life and career. He said that it was important for him to connect with young people. He was as impressive as always and I would urge anyone who has not read his book to do so.”

Member nominations for The Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year 2019 may now be made, to me please. Eligible books should be published during 2018, either in the UK or if elsewhere they should be available here. The judges, under a new chairman to be appointed jointly by The Cricket Society and the MCC, will look for what they regard as the best new cricket writing of 2018. Anthologies are not usually eligible. If a ‘ghosted’ book is favoured, the ghost will be duly honoured.

Recruit a friend in 2018

We plan to review our approach to membership recruitment as part of a strategic review. As you already enjoy the benefits of Society membership why not recruit a friend? Print off the Membership Application Form (2018) from the How to Join page of cricketsociety.com and ask a friend to complete it and add your name. The form should then be sent to our Membership Secretary David Wood. Membership fees for 2018 from 1 July are reduced to £10.50 (£8.50 for those 60 and over) and joiners in November and December 2018 get those two months free for 2019 membership at the bargain price of £21 (£17 if they are 60 or over). We have no plans to increase the cost of membership. The names of existing members known to have recruited a new member during 2018 – including those who may already have done so - will go into a proverbial hat, with the prize of a ticket to our Spring Lunch in March 2019.

You may like to know that The Cricket Society (on 5 June) had 1673 members, including 37 who have joined this year – a big welcome to you all. Most new members join having learned about The Society from an existing member. This is the case with 25 of this year’s new members, and since 2006 over 40 per cent of new members (447 of 1066) have given this as their route to joining.

We lose, for a variety of reasons, about 100 members a year and so have to recruit a similar number to stand still. Some members decide not to renew. If the same thought occurs to you, think again. Your membership benefits cricket as well as yourself. Membership subscription is the financial lifeblood of The Society. For the low figure of £21 (£17 for those who join aged 60 or over) – barely the cost of a decent restaurant meal – benefits include: two Journals and eight News Bulletins a year; the option to attend meetings in four locations with a range of speakers, lunches and dinners, and special events including our blue riband Book of the Year Award at Lord’s and ‘days at the cricket’. Many say that membership is worthwhile for our publications alone. All of you - whether or not you read those publications or attend our functions - have the knowledge that you are supporting the ten annual awards we make to a range of people and schools who have achieved and given much in cricket. Those of you have attended our London lunches and dinners will have seen the enormous pleasure and encouragement that receiving a Cricket Society award gives to young players and schools in particular. Many of our young award winners go on to represent England.

NIGEL HANCOCK