Tag 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.

5 Comments

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.

2 Comments

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)

2 Comments

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.

2 Comments

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

Death of a Cricketer

Obviously a big death is in the news at the moment.  How we should remember her? what type of funeral? etc.  It’s got me thinking about death (cheery I know) and reminded me of the week I spent cataloging memorial and funeral service brochures.  Some of them were moving, some sad, some uplifting.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Larwood mem

As you may know if you read my ‘Villains?’ a few weeks ago Harold Larwood was a somewhat controversial figure due to the part he played in bodyline bowling.  Yet many believed his disgrace was ill deserved and the Rector’s words reflect this in the opening address.

“Harold lived as he bowled – honestly, steadfastly and wholeheartedly.  For various reasons, which are now part of the game’s history, he was not always appreciated but despite this he continued his spell with fortitude and preserved his own integrity.”

A very nicely put tribute I think.

Don Bradman mem

I like this one because it’s nice and joyful.  I love the picture on the front, it’s so 1930s and reminds me what incredible times this man saw (as well as being an incredible cricketer).  I think the cartoon on the back with the umpires signal of ‘out’ is touching and funny.

owzat DonMy very favourite though, makes me feel sad.

Hedley Verity mem

Unlike the first two, his life was cut short violently and prematurely   At just 38 he died in Italy as a prisoner of war from wounds received during an attack on a German battalion in Sicily.  Before he went missing in action his last known words were “keep going, keep going” urging his men on in the attack.  At first there was hope he might have survived his wounds and be in a prisoner of war camp but word was received of his death and the Telegraph & Argus paid this moving tribute on 2 September 1943…

Wherever good cricket is appreciated, wherever sportsmanship is accepted as an indication of character, wherever men are honoured not because they are wealthy or gifted, but because they are in the true sense of the word men, there will the name of Hedley Verity be ever respected.

The humble last resting place of Hedley Verity.

(Memorial and funeral service brochures are among the many interesting and quirky items that can be viewed in the Lord’s Museum, Archive and Library.  Catalogue available on-line soon.) As well as a brave and well respected man he was a great bowler with the best first-class average in his day and the only man to take 14 wickets in a single day in a test match.  His death was a terrible waste of talent.

Here’s me hunting for interesting things to show you.

2 Comments

Filed under Australia, bowling, cataloguing, Cricket, death, England, History, injury, Librarianship, MCC

Villains?

A few words about the men who cause the brave cricketers' injuries.

A few words about the men who cause the ‘brave’ cricketers’ injuries.

Last week I dealt with the heroics of cricketers who played on in-spite of nasty injuries.  But what about the cricketers who cause injury to others?  The villains (depending on you point of view!).  Here are a few possible candidates.

Grievous Bodily Harmison –  On the first day of the Ashes 2005 Stephen Harmison took 5-43 in an extremely aggressive spell.  He hit Justin Langer on the elbow, broken Matthew Hayden’s helmet and smashed the grille on Ponting’s helmet causing a dramatic looking gash on his cheek.  Ricky Pointing recalls the moment in his Ashes Diary

“There was no pain, just a ringing feeling as the impact of the blow reverberated around my head.  I felt fine, but pretty quickly I began to feel something trickling down the side of my face, and when I looked at my shirt I could see bloody dripping onto it.”

A delighted Steve Harmison celebrates Damien Martyn's wicket

It was generally felt that England were attempting to show intent with this aggression.  It was not only the style of bowling that was aggressive but it was noticeable that Harmison did not approach any of the Australian batsmen to see if they were OK after they had been struck.  It was also felt that England were being unnecessarily aggressive in the field when throwing the ball at the stumps while the batsman was in his ground – Pointing accused Vaughan and his team of “macho posturing”.

So is Steve Harmison a villain?  Steve Harmison himself was later to describe the moment as one of the worst of his career.  And he was not referring to the balls he bowl but the fact he failed to show the courtesy of checking that the batsmen were alright.  I do sort of agree with him, it’s always nice to see good manners even in the heat of battle.  On the other hand I doubt Ponting would have welcomed his concern, in another match he was hit by Matt Prior while fielding at silly point, Prior asked if he was OK and Pointings reply was apparently a colourful range of expletives!   England were attempting to show a different, more competitive side and I think they went too far.  I won’t condemn Harmison as a villain however, as he has shown remorse, just a temporary bully.  What do you think?

The cut required 8 stitches.

The cut required 8 stitches.

The West Indian Pace Quartets – these men were not only accused of bullying bowling tactics but of altering the whole game of cricket for the worse!

“Until we can breed 7 ft monsters willing to break bones and shatter faces, we cannot compete against these threatening West Indians.  Even the umpires seem be scared that devilish-looking Richards might put a voodoo sign on them!” (from a letter to Wisden Cricket Monthly, June 1990)

“Their game is founded on vengeance and violence and is fringed by arrogance.” (David Frith. editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly, 1991)

Bloody Windies! England tour of terror.’ (News of the World headline 1994)

The main accusation against the West Indian team was that they relied on violence and fear to get wickets rather than skill.  And that this tactic resulted in games than were less interesting to watch as they lacked bowling variety.  Fast aggressive bowling was nothing new but their speed and their use of four fast bowlers rather than the more traditional two gave batsmen little respite from the onslaught.

Mike Gatting had lost part of his nose after being hit in the face by a ball from Marshall

Mike Gatting lost part of his nose after being hit in the face by a ball from Marshall

So were these players villains?  Injuries were caused but then injuries have always been a feature of cricket as last week’s blog demonstrated, did they deserve the special vilification they sometimes attracted?  The allegation that they relied on terror is under serious dobt, the introduction of the one-bouncer per over rule in 1991 did little to dent the team’s success rate, so arguments that the relied on intimidation and lacked talent appear unfounded.   As to intimidation and aggression these are a traditional tactics to restrict a batsman’s scoring options, and unlike with Bodyline (see below), the fields set did give talented batsmen some scoring options.

Michael Holding bowling

“It would be naive and misleading of me to claim that I never bowl bouncers without trying to intimidate the batsmen. On the contrary, I want him to be aware that if he gets on the front foot against me he might find himself in trouble – in other words he might get hurt. But that is quite a different thing from actually wanting or intending to hurt him. I have no desire to hurt anyone.” (Michael Holding)

I don’t think the West Indies pace attacks were villains, just talented aggressive fast bowlers.  I also find the arguments of Savidge and McLellan quite convincing, in that much of the criticism levelled  at the West Indian quicks was tinged with jealousy, sour grapes, and at times, racism.

The Bodyliners – Now for the big one!  Possibly the most vilified group of cricketers in cricketing history.

So bad they almost caused an international incident! - Cable from the ABC to MCC.

So bad they almost caused an international incident! – Cable from the ABC to MCC.

Described as ‘leg theory’ by it’s proponents but more commonly know as ‘bodyline’ – bodyline bowling involves the bowler pitching the ball short and directed at the batsman’s torso or head while the majority of fielders are places on the leg-side.  It wasn’t a new technique, it was often used to restrict runs, what was different in the 1932-33 Ashes was the speed at which the ball was being bowled by Harold Larwood and Bill Voce greatly increasing the chance of injury to the batsmen.  During the series most Australian batsmen were struck resulting in a number of injuries.  It was thought captain Douglas Jardine chose to using this controversial style of bowling in an attempt to restrain the mighty Don Bradman.

So was there villainy afoot?  And if so who were the villains?  Amateur captain Jardine the mastermind, or professional bowlers Voce and Larwood who followed his orders to the letter?  Or none of them?  Or all three?

Jardine is often seen as the most likely candidate of the three for villainy.  An old school amateur cricketer, upper-class and utterly unapologetic about his choice of ‘win at all costs’ tactics.  Larwood also comes in for heavy criticism especially as he was the one who bowled the ball which hit Australian Captain Woodfull over the heart leaving him reeling in agony.

"the most unsportsmanlike act ever witnessed on an Australian ground." Selector Bill Johnson's verdict on that Larwood delivery.

“the most unsportsmanlike act ever witnessed on an Australian ground.” Selector Bill Johnson’s verdict on that Larwood delivery.

It does seem, however, that the Australians forgave Larwood, he eventually emigrated to Australia and was well received.  Perhaps the former miner was a more likeable figure than the reticent upper-class Jardine.

The bodyline incident was a very unpleasant event in the history of cricket.  Larwood is hard to condemn as a villain, he was treated appallingly by the MCC post-bodyline and physically paid a high price for following his captain’s orders.  Jardine is harder to forgive so I’ve decided that he does qualify for a degree of villainy.

Finally – not a causer of injury, but the biggest villain of the bunch!  I was reading a story which I thought might be a strong contender for inclusion in my blog on heroes.  In 1919 in a match between Sussex and Somerset the scores were level with Sussex 9 wickets down, their number 11, H J Heygate, had problems with rheumatism and was crippled with pain.  But he bravely hobbled out to the wicket as he knew his team needed him.  He arrived at the crease and Somerset’s L. Braund immediately appealed to the umpire.  Heygate was given out as it had taken him longer than 2 minutes to arrive at the crease and the game was declared a draw to the disgust of the crowd.  Now that really wasn’t cricket.  What a villain!

bowler

(Further reading : Ashes Diary 2005 by Ricky Ponting & Brian Murgatroyd, Real Quick: A Celebration of the West Indies Pace Quartets by Michele Savidge & Alastair McLellan, Cricket’s Hall of Shame by Dave Warner – all available in the MCC library)

NB – This post was inspired by philgreaney.wordpress.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, bowling, British Empire, Cricket, England, History, injury, MCC, Umpiring, West Indies

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?

6 Comments

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