Category Archives: archive

Nineteen months at Lord’s

Today is my last day working at Lord’s.  I’m off to a new job at Southwark Council.

Working here has been an amazing experience and I thought I’d share a few highlights with you –

1. The Long Room on Match Days

Being in the long room on match days is a real pinch yourself/shivers down the spine moment, probably for everyone, but particularly for someone who is never ever going to be a member of the MCC.  During most matches I find an excuse to pop across, taking some leaflets or making a vital check that the paintings are hanging straight!  My favourite moment by far was seeing Strauss and Cook go out to bat on the first morning of my first test at Lord’s.

It's just a bit busier than this on match days!

It’s just a bit busier than this on match days.

2. The collection

Less obvious perhaps – but I think my very favourite thing about being at Lord’s has been working with the collection.  I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made getting it catalogued and in some kind of order and I’ve loved all the unexpected ‘gems’ I’ve found along the way.

Dedicated librarian at work

Dedicated librarian at work

You can see some of the results of my work, and that of the rest of the cataloguing team, on our on-line catalogue.   (http://mcc.adlibhosting.com/).    New entries are being added all the time.

3. Taking the Field visits.

Running Taking the Field has been fabulous all round, but I especially enjoyed getting out there and visiting some of the clubs.  Particular highlights were the beautiful Wirksworth and Middleton in Derbyshire (www.takingthefield.com/clubs/wirksworth-middleton-cricket-club) and warm, friendly Ovington in York (www.takingthefield.com/clubs/ovington-cricket-club).

Ovington playing on the Knavesmire.  It was hot and sunny everytime I went there - convincing me that it must always be like that in York.

Ovington playing on the Knavesmire. It was hot and sunny every time I went there – convincing me that it must always be like that in York.

Wirksworth & MIddleton.  They had the most virbrant youth section I saw anywhere and are based in such a beautiful part of the country.

Wirksworth & MIddleton. They had the most vibrant youth section I saw anywhere and are based in such a beautiful part of the country.

4. People

My next highlight is all the people I’ve got to meet here.  It was great bumping into past and present stars of the game on a daily basis such as Sir Ian Botham, Stuart Broad, Kevin Pietersen, Nasser Hussain, Mike Brearley – and of course meeting my all time hero Andrew Strauss.  But even better was getting to know my wonderful colleagues who mean more to me than all the cricket celebrities in the world (everyone now, 1…2…3… ‘aahhhh’)

Here's me with Rob our superstar archivist who I'm going to miss loads.

Here’s me with Rob our superstar archivist who I’m going to miss loads.

Rob at work with Alan the other archivist.

Rob at work with Alan the other archivist.

Andrew, my fellow librarian.  We formed a life long bond working together for the first few months crammed into a long narrow windowless corridor full of cardboard boxes of unsorted uncatalgued annuals.

Andrew, my fellow librarian. We formed a life long bond working together for the first few months crammed into a long narrow windowless corridor full of cardboard boxes of unsorted uncatalgued annuals.

Liz, a dedicated and knowledgable cricket fan and fantastic cricket photographer.

Liz, a dedicated and knowledgable cricket fan and fantastic cricket photographer.

Rowan, a former archivist who knew absolutely nothing about cricket.  So little that when we were once taling about where to put the model of Sachin Tendulkar she thought we were refering to the man to her right wearing the hat!

Rowan, a former archivist who knew absolutely nothing about cricket. So little that when we were once talking about where to put the model of Sachin Tendulkar she thought we were referring to the man to her right wearing the hat!

5. Lord’s in winter

There’s nothing quite like watching cricket at Lord’s on a beautiful summers day, but when you see the ground in mid-winter you feel like you’re really part of the place and are getting a proper behind the scenes view.  I am sad I won’t get to experience that again this year.

whole ground in snow

So goodbye to Lord’s and goodbye to everyone following my blog.

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Filed under archive, club cricket, Cricket, cricket grounds, goodbye, Librarianship, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, test cricket

Cricket in strange places

Members of Darjeeling Cricket Club, based in Dubai.

Members of Darjeeling Cricket Club, based in Dubai.

This week I added a new club to the TTF site – http://www.takingthefield.com/clubs/darjeeling-cricket-club – Darjeeling Cricket Club is the first from United Arab Emirates to feature on the site.  Dubai, where they are based, is not traditionally a cricketing city, although recently they have hosted some international games involving Pakistan.  They have also hosted the annual Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes popular amateur cricket contest (http://www.chiangmaisixes.com/) based in Thailand – and I certainly didn’t know cricket was a big thing over there.

There have been many efforts to spread cricket to every corner of the globe, with mixed success.  Obviously some commonwealth nations have entirely embraced it and made it their own, India, Australia and South Africa etc, other parts of the commonwealth not so much, i.e. Canada.  Ovington’s own Liam Herringshaw experienced the introduction of cricket to Newfoundland you can read more about it here – http://theindependent.ca/2013/02/15/how-to-seduce-newfoundlanders-into-liking-cricket/.  Cricket in Canada is nothing new however, it’s been played there for a long time it’s just never really taken off in a big way (I think the cold weather might well have played a part!).  MCC toured there quite a bit throughout the last century and we have scorecards in the archive to prove it.

Score book from MCC's 1937 tour of Canada.  This is the score of MCC v All Toronto 2nd August 1937.

Score book from MCC’s 1937 tour of Canada. This is the score of MCC v All Toronto 2nd August 1937.

Cricket did used to be quite healthy in the USA.  The world’s 1st dedicated cricket magazine was an American publication and there were a lot of early English tours to the States but then baseball took over and cricket was consigned to being a quirky minority sport.

The American Cricketer ran from 1877-1929.  The world's first cricket magazine.  We have a full set in the MCC library.

The American Cricketer ran from 1877-1929. The world’s first cricket magazine. We have a full set in the MCC library.

Heading down to South America we find a similar scene, cricket was once very popular in some places, particularly Argentina – but football is now very much the dominant sport in that continent.

The MCC team about to set off on their long voyage to South America and a programe from their 1926 tour to Argentina.  From Gubby Allen's scrap book, now held in the MCC archive.

The MCC team about to set off on their long voyage to South America and a programe from their 1926 tour to Argentina. From Gubby Allen’s scrap book, now held in the MCC archive.

And what about Europe?  The Netherlands and Ireland have quite a lively cricket scene, but I’m not sure it’s made much progress elsewhere beyond a few ex-pat clubs scattered about.

Cricket is played in places you might not expect - Here's France's national cricket team tie.

Cricket is played in places you might not expect – Here’s France’s national cricket team tie.

I love to hear from more people who play cricket in ‘strange’ places, or from any of you who have any theories as to why it flourishes in some nations but not others.

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Filed under archive, British Empire, Cricket, MCC, UAE

Questions in the House

“It is surely right that the House should discuss the burning topic of the South African cricket tour, which has aroused such grave anxiety throughout this county…”

(MP Philip Noel-Baker, quoted in Hansard 14th May 1970)

As a boy Andrew Redfern caused a mini political scandal with his letter to a government minister – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/scandal-started-youth-cricket. The relationship between politics and cricket goes back along way, despite the desire of some to separate politics and sport.  Both are important parts of life stiring strong emotions so this ‘ideal’ rarely exists.

Tony Blair

Possibly the most famous incident of cricket and politics colliding was during the D’Olivera affair.  ‘Non-white’ cricketer Basil D’Oliveira was not selected for the test side due to tour South Africa 1968-69, despite having scored 158 not out against the Australians just a few days before the selection meeting.  The selection committee maintained that their decision was purely based on cricketing considerations including an assertion that D’Olivera’s style would not suit the South African conditions, but many suspected that the decision had more to do with ‘not rocking the boat’.  Under South African laws D’Olivera would not have been permitted to play on a South African tour.

“We will not allow mixed teams to play against our white teams here.”

(South African Minister of the Interior, January 1967)

His omission from the team drew the attention of the general public.  When another player dropped out of the tour due to injury there was great pressure on the MCC to replace him with D’Olivera, which they did – South African Prime Minister Vorster then banned the tour stating…

“It’s not the MCC team.  It’s the team of the anti-apartheid movement…it’s the team of political opponents of South Africa.  It is a team of people who don’t care about sports relations at all.”

In 1970 cricket was debated extensively in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.  A full account of the debates can be found in Hansard.

In 1970 cricket was debated extensively in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A full account of the debates can be found in Hansard, these copies are from the MCC Archive.

The South African’s were due to tour England the following year, but the ‘Stop the Seventy Tour’ campaign was launched with protests and threats of direct action and the tour was eventually cancelled after a direct appeal to the Cricket Council from the Home Secretary James Callaghan.

This was not the first time politicians became involved in the game.  During the bodyline scandal the friendly relations existing between England and Australia were under threat as a sporting tactic transformed into a near diplomatic incident!  During the furious exchange of telegrams between the two cricket boards the press and politicians such as the Governor of South Australia Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven and Stanley Baldwin also became invovled and it was alledge that there were formal discussions in the cabinet by both nations.  Why bodyline became so political is a murky issue, many members of the MCC committee had strong links to the Conservative Party which may have had some effect, also for some Australian nationalists the tactic was symbolic of English imperialistic and authoritarian attitudes.

Rather glib little momento of the 'Bodyline' series from the MCC Museum.  The series came close to upseting relations between two countries.

A rather glib little momento of the ‘Bodyline’ series from the MCC Museum. The series came close to upseting relations between two countries.

As in Andrew Redfern’s youth, the issue of cricket in state schools is still seen as a political issue today, especially as we live in a time when fewer players from working class origins reach the top than probably in any time of the cricket’s history (see previous post – Is cricket Posh?).  Many state schools do not have the space or facilities to provide cricket, and the problem was exacerbated by the sale of playing fields in the 1980s and 90s.

So whether it’s race, class or international relations cricket has often proved a political hot potato.

(Bibliography – Anyone but England: Cricket and the National Malaise by Mike Marqusee.  Bodyline by Philip Derriman.  Bodyline Autopsy by David Frith.  All available in the MCC Library)

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Filed under archive, Ashes series, Australia, British Empire, class, Cricket, digital stories, England, History, MCC, MCC, politics, school cricket, test cricket

Scary red balls!

Poster from 1890.  Guess the lady batting looks a little bit frightened...

Poster from 1890. Guess the lady batting looks a little bit nervous…

I was listening to an  interview on our audio archive this morning.  Ken Medlock talks about all kinds of cricket related topics, ( http://mcc.adlibhosting.com/Details/archive/110000610), I was really interested by what he had to say about cricket balls and how they are made, during this section the interviewer David Rayvern Allen suddenly drops in a comment about blue cricket balls being used for the women’s game so ladies wouldn’t be frightened by the red balls!  A myth surely?  Like piano legs being covered up for decency’s  sake in Victorian times.  I had to find out – and found evidence that they did exist almost straight away.

According to an exhibition catalogue from a 1963 exhibition of women’s cricketana

“The BLUE BALL made specially by Alfred Reader at the request of Gamages Ltd. in 1897 to ensure that lady cricketers would not swoon at the sight of a red one did not prove practical as it could not be seen again the background of grass and sky.  Of interest is the fact that the weight of this ball, of which a limited supply was produced, is 5 ozs., the same as has been used by women cricketers since 1926.  The ball on exhibit is the only preserved memento of this curious experiment.”

Where is this ball?  We don’t have it, it doesn’t say who owned it in the catalogue – I want to see it!  If anyone has seen a blue ball can you let me know?  I would also like to hear from any ladies (or indeed gents) who have ever found themselves in a state of terror at the sight of a red ball.  This is all intriguing stuff!

fear

…actually, they ARE pretty frightening!

(Bibliography – 1745-1963: Exhibition of Women’s Cricketana by Molly Hide and Netta Rheinberg.)

Photography by Alan Rees.

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Filed under archive, bowling, Cricket, cricket balls, History, lady members, women's cricket

Dead kangaroo anyone?

me in empty stand

Busy week here at the MCC library (if not in the stands!).  I’ve been working on lots of enquiries, I had one about the fixtures of the first Aboriginal tour of England in 1868, one man wanted to know what 1902 Lord’s looked and ‘felt’ like for a chapter of a children’s book he’s writing that features a cricket match.  I also had a rather tedious task that took half a day looking up book reviews for every book written by Eric Midwinter over about 15 years, so glad when I found the last one!

My ‘show and tell’ this week doesn’t involve any of my enquiries though.  I’ve picked a rather interesting menu card for a welcome dinner given to the 1904 England touring team when they arrived in Australia.  It was found by my colleague Heather.

menua

What first attracted me to this item was the marvelous cover.  The lion pummeling the kangaroo is pretty standard Ashes contest imagery.  What’s a little more unusual is the crazy grasshopper thing holding a sinister looking canister which appears to be emitting clouds of some kind of gas.  What does this mean?  Can anyone shed any light on this?  I was also intrigued by the fact that Warner has brought a bag of dead kangaroo to Australia with him, very strange and most unpleasant.  Is he bringing it to the dinner for everyone to eat or is it just a gift for his hosts?  It’s enough to put me off my dinner but maybe the items on the menu would tempt me…

menu 001aAt the risk of appearing utterly unsophisticated I have to admit that I have no idea what any of these dishes are!  Are they really posh dishes or is it just ordinary food written in French?  Again, can anyone enlighten me?

The final thing that drew me to this item was the entertainment laid on for the touring team.

program

I love the names of the dances, especially ‘Cozy Corner Girl’.  Also I just love the idea of a team of cricketers getting together for a Waltz and a Two-Step etc.  I can’t help but picture the modern teams having a go at this, Prior, KP and Broad et al all twirling and two-steping around a ballroom, mind you most of them will end up on Strictly eventually so maybe it wouldn’t be so strange.  What do you think?

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Filed under archive, Australia, British Empire, Cricket, England, History, MCC

Recognise this?

ground

Where is this?

MCC needs you!  (Well, your help recognising this picture any way).

My colleagues in the archive are busy sorting and cataloguing Estates Department files from the 1930s to the 60s.  The Estates Department deals with the grounds and properties of Lord’s and Alan was going through a wonderful box of material relating to the care of pitches and the construction of artificial pitches.  Among some photos of grounds staff testing out various rollers on the nursery ground he found the picture above, it’s not Lord’s so where is it?  Can any of you help?  The sanity of the archiving team may depend on it!

 

thoughful

Baffled and confused – they need your help!

If anyone can help us please send me a message.

Thanks!

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Filed under archive, cataloguing, Cricket, cricket grounds, History, Librarianship, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC

On the Origin of Cricket

At the home of cricket seeking the origins of cricket.

At the home of cricket seeking the origins of cricket.

The origin of cricket is rather obscure.  In Ralph Dellor and Stephen Lamb’s ‘History of Cricket’ they speculate that primeval man may well have played a bat and ball game similar to cricket as a form of hunting practice!  But they offer no evidence of this and concede that cricket as we know it was probably first played by shepherds in Kent “as a means of whiling away the time spent watching their flocks on those upland pastures.”  The name ‘cricket’ as also of obscure origin, Trevor Bailey in ‘A History of Cricket’ says it derives from an Anglo-Saxon word ‘cricce’ meaning staff or crutch as early cricket may have been played with a staff and got its name that way.  Simon Hughes however in ‘And God Created Cricket’ offers the horrifying possibility that cricket may have been invented by the French!  The word ‘criquet’ was a word for a stick and ball game introduced into English by the Normans, the French Normans also had the word ‘wiket’ meaning small gate and ‘beil’ crosspiece.  Henry Blofeld in ‘Cricket and All That’ maintains a more English version, that cricket originated from the word ‘creag’ that was used to describe a ball game played by Edward I in around 1300.  The Wisden Illustrated History of Cricket also refer to ‘creag’ but feel the reference is unreliable and cite a 1598 reference to ‘crickett’ as the first reliable reference –  in a legal dispute over land a witness states that he “did play there at crickett and other plaies.”

So the books in the MCC Library don’t quite agree.  Andrew did find this nice little four part pictorial history in a newspaper clippings file which I think tells the story rather well.

focus on fact 1

focus on fact 2

focus on fact 3

focus on fact 4

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Filed under archive, Cricket, England, History, Librarianship, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC