Chairman's Diary

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 2021 - the Chair's Cricket Diary

I hope that you – all 1646 of you at the last count - are enjoying the early summer’s sport, the cricket in particular. Writing these notes as India and New Zealand play out the World Test Championship Final at Lord’s, there is an abundance of sport on offer. Wales are battling in the Euros, the pre-Wimbledon tournament at Queen’s is reaching its climax (a Mr Norrie is changing tennis balls), and Lewis Hamilton is battling in the French Formula One Grand Prix. The Blast is well underway and Leicestershire have won their first 20/20 of the season. The highest form of cricket is taking place before a Lord’s crowd of 4000. Small in number but attentive and enthusiastic, followers of India predominate. I love observing crowds when India play. Supporters of India tend to be enthusiastic, passionate, partisan and noisy. Hero-worship abounds and, at my only Test attended in India, at Eden Gardens I recall regular Sachin Tendulkar surges towards the great man each time he fielded the ball near the boundary. The miniature crowd for this Lord’s final limits all that but, characteristically too alongside the use of technology, there are hand-written messages: “Sign please” alongside images of Indian players, “Kiwi roast for lunch?” Let’s hope that there is a next such Championship Final and that it plays out before a large crowd.

What wonderful batting at Bristol from India’s 17 years old Shafali Verma and from Smriti Mandhana, and a good advertisement for women’s Test cricket. Our very own Raf Nicholson writes about the subject in this issue and for national newspapers. Our 2021 ‘days at the cricket’ are not yet fixed - look out for news of them at relatively short notice – but we hope that one of them will be at a late season women’s ODI, one of the five v New Zealand scheduled for September. Probably not the one at Grace Road despite Raf’s view that the club “serves some of the best media food in the country”. A day at a men’s fixture could be anywhere depending on availability.

My cricket spectating experience this summer has been at Grace Road for days of matches against Middlesex and Gloucestershire, at Edgbaston for the first day of the second Test v New Zealand and, a couple of Sundays ago, at Kew Green for The Cricket Society XI’s match against Kew CCC. Watching cricket is a bit like riding a bike, once mastered habits are easily resumed. 400 of us at Grace Road, 18,000 at Edgbaston, and fifty or so lookers-on enjoying a hot day in West London whilst the players toiled. It was good to experience again some of the rituals of cricket: the conversations, with their collective buzz; the banter, and black humour as your side struggles; applause for good shots by whosoever; the conspicuous consumption of food and drink; and, at the Test, never did the Barmy Army in the Hollies Stand, the fancy dress, and the beer snakes seem so welcome. Some aspects were new: the incessant sanitizing of empty bucket seats at Leicester, the showing of a negative Covid result at the Test. At Kew, it was good to see a few other members present, and of course, to appreciate the efforts of our team.

Since the last Bulletin, we have decided between tenderers for our new website and automated membership management system. White Fuse  is a UK based company with a specialism in membership management software. It meets the needs we have identified and specified and we will be working with the company in the design and creation of a membership management website. You can expect the website to provide an enhanced range of information about the Society and its activities. A range of new features will also make it possible, for example, for new members to join on-line, for all members to purchase tickets to events such as our Awards Lunches and ‘days at the cricket’, and for better and quicker communication with members both collectively and individually.

We expect our new website and membership systems to be in place before the end of 2021. Geoff Levett  and our new Membership Secretary Matthew Stevenson  will be leading for us on the transition from our existing systems to the new ones. Regular updates on progress will appear from the next Bulletin and on . Although we will continue to seek email addresses from you, we recognize that not all of you are technologically disposed or even savvy and prefer other means of communication. It will remain possible for members to communicate with us to named people, and by post and telephone as well as by email and the website. Although we hope that those of you who currently pay your membership fees by cheque annually – which adds to our volunteer workload and costs - can be persuaded to pay by other means, cheques will still be accepted. Payment by direct debit will also continue.

I wrote last time about membership rates from January 2022 and was grateful to hear from a couple of you. Your Executive Committee has decided to plump for a £25 a year standard rate and to maintain, at £20, a concessionary rate for those aged 60 or more who have already exercised their right to it. Lots of us in that age group elect to pay the full rate and there is a good argument that many people of pensionable age are better off financially than younger people. Existing concessionaries will be encouraged to pay the full rate but only if their circumstances allow.

Two other key changes are envisaged, First, abolition of the current juvenile rate of £17 and its replacement with a £10 ‘young members’ rate for all new and existing members aged under 25. Secondly, a new category of ‘group membership’ (with two sets of publications) for organisations that will include cricket clubs. Further information about the changes overall will be provided in the papers for the 27 September AGM that will be included with the next Bulletin.

“One of the best things the Society has ever done” opined Bill Burnett, as favourable comment on our programme of Zoom events continues to reach us. Look out on for news of further on-line events as they are arranged and for details of the Book of the Year Award 2021 expected to take place at Lord’s on 18 October. Also consider coming to our Awards Lunch, written about elsewhere in this Bulletin in characteristic fashion by Andrew Cashmore-Till, at The Oval on 29 October.


Nigel Hancock