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.

Please note this has been edited from the Bulletin version in regard to corrections to BOTY award date and book title/publishers.

January 2018

Simon Mann was an excellent speaker at our autumn dinner in November at the Royal Over-Seas League. Ably introduced by our illustrious vice president Vic Marks who proposed a toast to cricket, Simon responded wittily and informatively in sharing with a sell-out audience of about 140 recollections of his career and a range of cricketing people. These of course included fellow contributors to Test Match Special both present and past. TMS reached pensionable age this year (well, what in some quarters used so to pass) and has received much coverage in the cricketing press and publications. I hope that you enjoyed the article by Paddy Briggs in the Autumn Journal, and the accompanying photographs with greater use of colour. The copyright of the striking cover design is owned by a member of your Executive Committee and we will see if we can make further use of it. Some of you have suggested that it would make a good, if not very Christmassy, card next year. This year’s card sold out and we hope that you all enjoyed having a copy.

The autumn dinner seemed appreciated by those present and marked a further stage in our development of these functions, professionally masterminded by Andrew Cashmore-Till. The twin emphasis of TMS and The Cricket Society Trust, whose annual Christopher Box-Grainger Award was a highlight, were the twin themes of the evening. A continuous loop of iconic cricketing photographs was a welcomed silent backdrop to the proceedings. The dinners have always been popular and well organised highlights of The Society’s year, as reflected in the picture archives since our early days. But times and peoples’ expectations change and your Executive Committee is keen to adapt. ‘Dinners’ must always foremost meet the wishes of our members who wish to dine, and crucially we sense members wish to partake of and listen to good cricket talk and speakers. The food – about which there will always be a range of views – is of course important. So too is The Society’s profile in the cricketing firmament, and the functions we hold can help with this and with the attraction of a steady influx of new members without which we will stagnate and fail to keep subscription prices low.

The EC’s broad approach is to hold two London dinners or lunches a year, with the autumn emphasis on conviviality, good cricket talk, food and drink and we hope a full house in an intimate venue. The Spring Lunch – in 2018 at The Oval on 16 March - is planned to appeal to a wider Cricket Society audience and will be the larger and more boisterous of our two ‘dinners’ with most of our awards made. The big picture is that we hope to build on this Spring's 244 attendance with 300 in March 2018 and (in the England suite) 420 in Spring 2019. Preliminary discussions with a couple of potential sponsors suggest that we can conclude a two-three year deal from 2019 which would generate significant (several £K a year) profits for us. Against this background we need from Spring 2018 to meet costs by increasing the ticket price by about ten per cent to £55. What we are not yet sure of is the appetite for lunches v dinners. The autumn 2018 event, provisionally at The Oval in its Long Room, could be either a lunch or a dinner: if you have strong views on which please let Cash or me know.

One aspect of our activities that we hope to celebrate at the Spring 2018 lunch is our relationship with the cricketing charity Chance to Shine. For the last two years The Cricket Society, using a legacy from Vivienne Hoggarth, has sought to aid the use of cricket in urban communities to help youngsters who might otherwise be at risk of getting into trouble. Our donations of about £10K to Chance to Shine have supported the development of the East London Girls project in Redbridge. This is a successful project and the donations have ensured that the coach Saba Nasim, the girls engaged at the outset, and many more, have benefitted both in cricket terms and much more widely. We hope that Saba will be present at the 16 March lunch. A final £5000 donation from the legacy will help sustain the project for a further year. If any members are interested in leaving legacies that will help The Society to further good cricketing causes please contact treasurer Phil Reeves for advice.

Some 40 members attended The Cricket Society’s AGM in October. For the second successive year, it was suggested that The Society might use its corporate influence to express views on national cricketing issues on behalf of the membership. As was pointed out at the time, there is a conduit through the Council of Cricket Societies to raise concerns given their direct links with the ECB which include an annual meeting at Lord’s. It would also be challenging, and time consuming, to establish the balance of members’ views on issues such as the domestic fixture list and governance. (We have attempted this before by devoting a London meeting to matters of concern and communicating these to the Council’s officials.) I have nevertheless raised members’ views at the Council – shortly to be renamed The Cricket Societies’ Alliance – where there is no appetite to operate as a ‘pressure group’ on cricketing issues.

It was also suggested that the ECB’s Andy Fordham might be invited to address a future Society meeting in London, and meetings convenor Nick Tudball and I have this in mind. Andy – the ECB’s Cricket Operations Manager - spoke at this November’s Council meeting at Grace Road, initially giving a vivid picture of the collective challenges of winning competitions at County level and the individual challenges of successfully playing a professional sport such as cricket. Turning to his current day job, Andy explained the hierarchy of factors – international, T20 and Championship – that currently determined the domestic fixture list. But, hey, let’s get him down to London and engaging with those of you who would like to discuss these issues first hand …

Robert Winder has been chosen by our Book of the Year partners the MCC to complete the judging panel for the 2018 competition, the awards evening for which is fixed for Tuesday 17 April in the Long Room at Lord’s. Robert, whose The Little Wonder: The Remarkable History of Wisden came close to winning our Book Award in 2014, is a former literary editor of The Independent and Deputy Editor of Granta, and a team member of the Gaieties Cricket Club whose chairman was Harold Pinter. At the time of composing these notes – the morning after Australia’s convincing Brisbane victory in the first Test – eleven books nominated by members have been accepted for the long list for the 2018 award:

Mike Brearley, On Form, Little, Brown

Michael Burns, Russell Endean: A South African Sportsman in the Apartheid Era, Nightwatchman Books

Stephen Chalke, In Sunshine and in Shadow, Geoff Cope and Yorkshire Cricket, Fairfield Books

Stephen Hill and Barry Phillips, Somerset Cricketers 1919-1939, Halsgrove

Jeremy Lonsdale, A Game taken Seriously: The Foundations of Yorkshire’s Cricketing Power, ACS

Douglas Miller, Raman Subba Row, Cricket Visionary, Charlcombe Books

Andrew Murtagh, Gentleman and Player, The Story of Colin Cowdrey, Cricket’s Most Elegant and Charming Batsman, Pitch Publishing

Steve Neal, Over and Out, Albert Trott: The Man who Cleared the Lord’s Pavilion, Pitch Publishing

Mark Rowe, Brian Sellers: Yorkshire Tyrant, ACS

Mike Thompson, The Lord of Lord’s: The Life and Times of Lord Frederick Beauclerk, Christopher Saunders

Peter Wynne-Thomas, Arthur Carr, The Rise and Fall of Nottinghamshire’s Bodyline Captain, Chequered Flag

Other possibilities for the long list, either nominated by members and under consideration, for example on eligibility grounds, or otherwise in the frame, include:

Ranjan Mellawa, Winds Behind the Willows: A Sri Lankan's Life in Love with Cricket, Damian Ranjan Mellawa

Rajdeep Sardesai, Democracy’s XI, The Great Indian Cricket Story, Juggernaut

John Lazenby, Edging Towards Darkness, Bloomsbury

Jonny Bairstow and Duncan Hamilton, A Clear Blue Sky, HarperCollins

Gideon Haigh, The Cricket War, The Story of Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket, Wisden

Christian Ryan, Feeling is the thing that happens in 1000th of a second: a season of cricket photographer Patrick Eagar, Riverrun/Hachette

Huw Turberville et al, The Cricketer Anthology of the Ashes, Allen and Unwin.

Finally, please let me or any other member of the Executive Committee know if you are interested in an officer role with The Society, either on or off the Executive Committee. You might be interested in a particular role or more generally, and either soon or a bit later on. One role that could be available soon is a new one as deputy editor of our publications, ie The Journal and The News Bulletin. Succession planning in key in any organisation, particularly a member one like The Cricket Society where all the work is done on a voluntary basis. Our publications seem valued by our membership but would doubtless benefit from a refresh with new ‘voices’. In the short term a deputy editor could, for example, help me with putting together our Spring and Autumn Journals, proof-read, and contribute articles or reviews; and perhaps a bit later on take over as editor.

NIGEL HANCOCK