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.


January 2019

Would England win in Pallekele’s enthralling Test match and take a 2-0 lead in the series against Sri Lanka or lose and set-up nicely a decider in Colombo? I must confess to contemplating warmly the latter prospect as I packed my bags ready for the flight to Colombo. We weren’t playing Australia so it wouldn’t matter that much if ultimately England failed to prevail. It would be slightly odd in my experience to arrive in a country with a Test series already won. Unique perhaps for many England cricket followers given that the series win was England’s first away since beating South Africa in 2016, with away defeats to Australia, India and New Zealand of recent memory. The reasons for the trend to home dominance are complex and I plan to explore this a little in the Spring 2019 Journal.

That spinners took a Test record 38 wickets at Pallekele was encouraging as The Cricket Society Tour Party prepared, if that’s the correct word, for its beach cricket match against the Mount Lavinia Hotel Staff on the eve of the Colombo Test. Encouraging because I expected we might be a little short of pace. And, amazingly, because someone I had not seen for over 45 years had approached me at the Union Jack Club and said that he remembered that my university days off-breaks had turned. Little matter that I hadn’t played for a decade or three. Fourteen members had signed up for the trip, eight arriving in good time for the final Test; two of the other six returned to England after the series was won. So we had 12 players, and the prospect of being joined by Vic Marks and by LycaFly’s Danuskka Ihalagedera with whom we had negotiated the tour. Alison McCreedy still played club cricket and Tony Francis and Douglas Miller would already be acclimatised. Perhaps we’d open with Alison and Vic and, Root-like, opt for a flexible number three approach. What happened? Ah, will I have got news through to our editor?

Reluctantly attending funerals is probably something many Cricket Society members find they have increasingly to do. Our former Chairman Dave Allsop’s recent death from cancer. There have been many tributes from our members. “That is extremely sad news. He was the man who first lured me into the Cricket Society. Persuasive, charming and cheerful.” said our vice President Chris Lowe. I remember his enthusiastic chairing of London member meetings I rushed to after work. It was some years later that I discovered that we were both men of Leicester and had been at the same school. There were several of our members at Dave’s (humanist) funeral in south London and many warm memories were shared. Eric Midwinter, our former chair of Book of the Year judges and a great friend of Dave’s, spoke eloquently at the funeral about “Dave, the character”, stressing his generosity and quoting extensively from Dickens’s Pickwick Papers. A piece from Eric about Dave will appear in our Spring Journal.

The list of cricket books published during 2018 (either here in the UK or obtainable here) and accepted for the long list for The Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award 2019 is shaping up nicely. There is no white smoke yet on who will take over from Vic Marks as Chair of the Judges but we are in close touch with the MCC about this joint appointment and will announce the new man or woman as soon as we can. Meanwhile, Mike Selvey, Robert Winder, Chris Lowe and John Symons are reading the books listed below. In February I expect to take delivery of their initial rank-orderings of books and, with the new chair, help facilitate a short list of five or more likely six books. All the publishers and authors with books on the long list are told and a press release is issued. Then the judges will re-assess their listings and will meet in probably March to discuss the books and determine a winner. The date for the ever popular award evening at the Long Room at Lord’s will be announced on .

- On Cricket, Mike Brearley, Constable

- 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

- Murder at Lord’s, Harry Oltheten and John H. Wories, Rupa Publications

- Ambassadors of Goodwill: On tour with the MCC 1946-71, Mark Peel, Pitch Publishing

- Pushing the Boundaries: Cricket in the Eighties: Playing Home and Away, Derek Pringle, Hodder and Stoughton

- 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

The other Long Room, at The Oval was, the venue for our Autumn Lunch, at which a good time seemed to be had by all. There was a waiting list for tickets, and if continued demand necessitates it we will consider putting on more than two lunches or dinners a year. The Union Jack Club can seat over 100 and that is one possibility. Meanwhile planning is under way in earnest for our Spring Lunch at The Oval on Friday 29 March 2019, with details of ticket arrangements and speaker hopefully elsewhere in this edition and on the website.

My best wishes to all for Christmas and 2019.