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.


May/June 2019

Our Spring Lunch

The annual Lunch at The Oval on 29 March, reported on elsewhere in this edition, seemed to go well. Our President Johnny Barclay reflected on “a terrific occasion, brilliantly prepared, bringing much joy and pleasure to The Oval.” No event involving food, drink, raffles, auctions and speakers is going to have universal approval. But the plaudits have far outweighed the criticisms and I am encouraged that we are establishing the Lunch as a key annual function, at south London’s iconic cricketing venue, that members and their guests enjoy and want to come back to. Its growing repute helps us to keep The Cricket Society on the cricketing map. The value of the Lunch isn’t easy to quantify but some of our attendees over the last year or three hadn’t attended our functions before, some had not heard of us, and all that we can do to sustain and increase our membership numbers and the interest in us is to our common good.

The Cricket Society has had sponsors in previous decades but, after a few years of largely going it alone, we were pleased to welcome representatives of Bunzl Catering Supplies and LycaFly to the Lunch. Green King Beer had provided beer. Raffle prize donatees included Henry Blofeld with books from his Library, Graham Arnold from Pinner Golf Club and our vice president Sir Tim Rice with theatre tickets. Our 2019 agreement with Bunzl will help us to balance the Lunch books, and the company’s Head of Business Development Austen Bushrod was present to hand the Christopher Box-Grainger Memorial Trophy (Christopher was a former Cricket Society Chairman) to Naomi Vann from Brent Knoll School from Lewisham. Bunzl are keen to associate themselves with the work of our charitable arm The Cricket Society Trust and we will be working together to make that happen.

LycaFly is our exclusive travel partner. Danushka Ihalagedera, the managing director, has been to a few of our other events and we were delighted to agree with him a Cricket Society trip last November to Sri Lanka. Muttiah Muralitharan was a surprise guest at the eve of Colombo Test beach dinner we had there, as you can read about in the Spring Journal which accompanies this Bulletin. We’re off again this new year’s eve - to South Africa for the whole of the Newlands Test and a few days either side. Booking details are on the website and on the inside front cover of the Journal for what seems sure to be a good value tour, whatever the outcome of the cricket. The price will be very competitive, the company and extra-cricketing activities should be enjoyable. Please consider joining us on this venture.

There were several former first class cricketers at the Lunch, with keynote speaker Devon Malcolm and award winner John Holder leading the way. Grahame Clinton, a former award winner too, was present, along with David Smith and Monty Lynch. Brian Richardson, ex Warwickshire and former Chairman of Coventry FC attended, as did Clive Dring who contributed a well-received article about his time with Surrey in the last Journal and follows that up with an anecdote in the current one.

The responses of the young award winners was, as ever, particularly pleasing, as was the willingness of the former professional cricketers present to engage with them. I give two examples. Kevin Hill, father of George Hill our award winner for the best schools cricketing all-rounder of 2018, told us “… what a brilliant day we all had. The location, food and wine, together with a great and eclectic mix of guests and award winners made it such a memorable day. George is extremely proud and honoured by the award bestowed upon him by The Cricket Society and he will cherish the memory of the day for many years to come. I truly hope that your members felt that George acquitted himself in the manner in which you would expect. We will all reminisce for a long time to come.”

The Don Rowan Award goes to the Surrey school judged to have made the best use of cricket in its programme for those with special needs. Frank Innes, teacher at Orchard Hill College thanked our Lunch convenor Andrew Cashmore-Till “ … for a brilliant day.  My best day at Orchard Hill by 100 runs!  [Pupils] Alfie and Jordan loved being made a fuss of.  Please send my eternal respect to Devon Malcolm.  For such an intimidating presence as a bowler, he was one of the most gentle people I have ever met.” Katie Rowan, Don’s widow, wishes to extend her award from 2020 and we will be having discussions with her about the best way of doing this.

Our latest Executive Committee meeting

About 20 per cent of the people attending were women. Fewer than six per cent of our membership is female and few women attend our cricket meetings, particularly in London. We want particularly to put on cricket events that are attractive to women and which provide welcoming environments. We are thinking of contacting all of our female members about that and about how best to enrol new female members, posing such questions as: Why did you join? Why don’t you attend meetings/ other events? Would you recommend (female) friends to join? What would encourage you to attend/ recommend friends to come? Raf Nicholson, our MC at the Lunch and rising star contributor to this year’s Wisden, and recently recruited to our Executive Committee, will be helping us with that and a relevant programme of events.

An early April meeting of your Executive Committee resolved to take forward a programme of work to review what we provide for members and how best both to replenish existing supporters (typically joining in their 50s and 60s) with new recruits from (realistically) younger and more diverse groups. We will be meeting again in July to discuss this further, in particular: our publications; the awards we make; female recruitment and member surveys. We will also be looking at how best to mark The Cricket Society’s 75th anniversary in 2020. If you want to comment now on any of these matters please let me know.

Tail enders

I hope that you enjoy the Spring Journal that arrives with this Bulletin. Congratulations to Geoff Lemon for winning The Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award 2019 with his Steve Smith’s Men, Behind Australian Cricket’s Fall. It was also Wisden’s cricket book of the year. We are hoping that Geoff will be able to attend our August film night with David Frith advertised in this Bulletin. I look forward to those of you coming to our ‘days at the cricket’ at Guildford and Beckenham. Enjoy the World Cup, the men’s and women’s contests with Australia, the IPL, the County scene and whatever else takes your cricketing fancies as the summer unfolds.

Nigel Hancock