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. 

Nov/Dec 2020 - the newly re-titled Chair's Cricket Diary

Monday 18 October, London.

Happy 75th birthday Cricket Society and may we move on stylishly to the nervous nineties and beyond. It’s been busily enjoyable these last few days to help put together the extra four pages of this Bulletin and to finalise the 100 plus page Journal that will arrive by the same mailing. Both seek to inform you about the Society’s origins and past and satisfy the range of cricketing interests that you have. I hope in these challenging times that readers find much to enjoy in our written publications and in the additional material about our history that we are planning to put on the website during November. The photographs in the middle pages are a fragment of the contents of our archive and we will be considering how best to make more of it easily accessible on this website.

These are challenging times for cricket societies across the land and we have been keen to add to our normal activities, in particular through Zoomed talks and discussions. By December we will have broadcast seven such meetings, at least one of them with a restricted live audience. Our approach is to be ready to resume ‘real’ meetings as and when they become possible, but not to abandon virtual get-togethers which have clearly reached a good cross-section of you including those who for a variety of reasons have not in the past attended at venues. As ever we welcome your comments as we strive to provide services that will find favour with our existing members and attract new ones.

Wednesday 7 October.

Oh, the joy of 15. How good it was today at the Union Jack Club to see a selection - we were over-subscribed – of beaming, socially-distanced members at our first ‘real’ meeting since before the national Covid-19 pandemic restricted all our lives and movements. That speaker Mark Rowe appeared in (almost) full cricketing regalia to demonstrate (albeit left-handedly) aspects of Don Bradman’s batting technique phased no-one. We sensed, with further Government measures unavoidably on their way, that this might be the last real meeting for a while. Fortunately our programme of Zoomed meetings is proving popular and today we at least showed our capacity to present ‘hybrid’ events open both to those willing and able to attend and to our membership as a whole.

Sunday 27 September.

Followed with unexpected interest the final day of the deciding match of the Bob Willis Trophy.

Retrospectively I add how pleased I am with the decision to have a revamped County Championship in 2021 with the 18 first-class counties split into three groups. In my (probably minority) view the (apparently temporary) abandonment of a two division Championship is a belatedly excellent development. The advent of central contracts has surely been a key factor in England’s relative success in recent years. A continued two division system risks extinction for some counties and continued plundering by the richer counties of those such as Leicestershire who develop and then lose promising players with scant compensation. Starting with a less uneven playing field gives hope for all counties, an immediate platform for promising players to test themselves, and an encouragement to local and national investment. Unlike with Premiership Rugby Union, the Championship winner will be just that, and the Bob Willis Trophy a showpiece with the chance of a double. May the conference system be a success and be retained for subsequent seasons.

This year Essex won, or rather didn’t lose but prevailed because of their first innings lead. Our panel considering the one-off award we are making for the best newcomer in this competition had already plumped for Somerset’s Tom Lammonby. Can I, panel lead Tom Carmichael emails, contact our vice-president Vic Marks who is broadcasting (the old distinction between commentator and summarizer seems to be on the wane) from Lord’s for the BBC? A good opportunity for Vic to announce our award winner and get a bit of publicity for the Society. Vic, who has written that Tom, Lammonby that is, "batted with wonderful panache on a wintry afternoon at a regrettably empty Lord's", quickly agrees to do so and I prepare a speaking note for him, “[fellow broadcaster] I assure you I have had no say in this. But The Cricket Society have asked me to announce … “. Does he? I listen, on and off, and hear several references to young Tom but not to our award. Come 4 pm I have no alternative but to switch to Sky and watch my football team’s dismantling of Manchester City. Did Vic pronounce? Probably, but I still don’t know.

Thursday 25 September

“Where is the cooking book section?” a mature, puzzled lady asked Peter Wynne-Thomas looking around his cricket library of some 17,000 items. Wandering around Nottingham earlier this year with not much open she and a friend had been pleased to find and follow the directions to the “Library” at Trent Bridge. Now named after Peter who has been librarian and archivist there since 1961, the library is the world’s second (after Lord’s) largest collection of cricket books. Possibly the collection, housed in a former squash court, is the biggest on display given that some of MCC’s stock is stored. The MCG’s library may be bigger than both but covers more than cricket. A fuller account of the time Nick Tudball and I spent with Peter is later on in this Bulletin, and a recording is available.

Wednesday 17 September.

Delaying myself by picking-up 26 conkers in New Walk, Leicester, I start viewing England v Australia in the final ODI with the third ball of the first over, England 0-2. It reminded a friend of when a man took up the adjacent seat next to him at Trent Bridge after lunch in 2015 with Australia eight down and on their way to 60 all out and Broad to 8-15. Late arrivals have always interested me, sometimes gallingly so like when once ticketless in Perth for the first day of an Ashes Test I was joined in a sports bar by cricket followers with tickets but determined to spend the morning away from their allotted seats. Not as late as when I once arrived at a concert in Canada just in time to meet the exiting audience heading the other way, a significant miscalculation there.

Nigel Hancock