Tag Archives: cricket match

On the road

Middlesex v. Glamorgan yesterday

Middlesex v. Glamorgan yesterday

The season is well under way now.  I’ve been to see Middlesex play a couple of times and my next plan is to get on the road and visit some of the cricket clubs that I’ve featured on Taking the Field

First of all I’m heading all the way to Wimbledon!  (http://www.takingthefield.com/clubs/wimbledon-cricket-club).  OK, so I’m not heading too far from my central London base, but it should still be a nice trip.  I’m told Wimbledon still has something of a village feel to it, so it will be a bit of a break from the big smoke.  It’s a really old club, dating back to 1854, they should have some interesting stories (though I probably won’t get to meet any of the founding members!)

Wimbledon CC ground

Wimbledon CC ground

After that my next trip takes me a bit further afield, all the way up to Ovington CC in York.  (http://www.takingthefield.com/clubs/ovington-cricket-club).  Not as old as Wimbledon, they’ve been around since the 1920s.  They have two important matches on the weekend I go up and I hope to get some good photos – but I’m even more keen to find out how true their club motto is:

 “Lucror vel perdo, nos vadum imbibo” (win lose, we shall drink).

OvingtonCC_logo big

Then I’m off to Wirksworth & Middleton CC which I’m particularly excited about as it’s in my old homeland – Derbyshire.  (http://www.takingthefield.com/clubs/wirksworth-middleton-cricket-club).  I’m not all that familiar with the Wirksworth area, but from what I’ve seen in the photographs it’s absolutley beautiful – I just hope I get some good weather.  Wirksworth CC has a really long history, going all the way back to 1757.  Roy Pearce has written some of the history of the club, extracts of this history can be found on the TTF website.

Wirksworth & Middleton have a long and interesting history.

And that’s all I have planned firmly for now – although it’s plenty to be going along with as, when you add in the test match, I’ve now got all my May weekends booked up.

If your club is on Taking the Field and you’d like me to come and visit to get some interviews and take some pictures please get in touch.  And if you’re not on the site yet, but have an interesting club with some good stories to tell, get in touch too and I’ll get you on the TTF site.

warm up big smile



Filed under club cricket, Cricket, cricket grounds, England, History, London, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, oral history


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!


(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

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

Six of the best

Zoe and graceI’ve now been working on Taking the Field for six whole months, and to celebrate I’ve selected my six very favourite digital stories from the website.  Please listen to them and let me know if you agree.

Here’s the count down…

At six – A Good Place for People to grow up


ABPh116a - Friday night youth (2)

I like this one partly because I’m just drawn to the lovely voices.  It’s an aspect of oral history I really enjoy, the tone of a voice gives so much more feeling than reading words in a book.  As to the content, I love the fact that the club has been a home to Fred for such a long time and that it’s just as central to the lives of today’s children as it was in the 1950s.

At five – How a feather and a glacier mint were a must for cricket coaches in Chirbury in the 1930’s


This shows that the neglect of cricket in schools is not a new development.  I wish I could have met Mr Shaw, it sounds like he provided the type of cricket lesson I would have responded well to!  I’m looking for someone to teach me cricket at the moment but no one I know who plays will volunteer, if only I had a Mr Shaw in my life.

At four – In at the Deep End


CWPh289 - Club Day 11 (action)

I just love the drama of this story, it’s well told and really easy to imagine the moment and the bowler’s emotion.  (Plus I just love the ‘ASBO’ line!)

At three –  Grounds (1): The tea ladies and Royal Hill Road


I love the historical documents and photos in this one, you really feel like you’re getting a good look into their history.  The video’s great too, (although I didn’t know who Brian Clough was and had to look him up).  My favourite thing about this one is that it once again demonstrates the amazing contribution women have made to their clubs since the very beginning.

At two – Playing for the Pits


Ernie Barber rescue team

I feel this one gives a fascinating glimpse into a lost world.  I was brought up in a mining village (although not in Wales) so I think this story represents part of my heritage, I can just about remember how much the closure of the pits transformed our community.  It makes me quite sad.

At one – The Final Over


My very favourite story!  It’s another sad one, but I actually find it quite uplifting.  I won’t spoil it – listen for yourselves.

Darky waiting to go in - away at Savile Stars 2011a

(If any of you are in clubs/know of clubs who’d like to get involved with TTF, please get in touch – you never know one of your stories might make my next top six!)


Filed under bowling, children, club cricket, Cricket, cricket grounds, digital stories, History, oral history, school cricket

Two against eleven

Found a lovely brochure for an interesting match in 1936

1936 players

The match was played to celebrate and replicate a match played in September 1834 when Edward Wenman and Richard Mills, who both played for Kent, went up against 11 Isle of Oxney players for the high stake of £20 in what was described at the time as a “manly exercise”.  It’s said that 4,000 spectators came out to watch, even though the match was played in a “very marshy and thinly populated district”, lots of cash was placed in bets with most backing the 2 to be victorious against the 11.

original 2

The ‘Benenden 2’ batted first and made a partnership of 150 before Edward Wenman was bowled by a D.Nere for 65.  The situation meant that just one wicket had to fall for there innings to be over, it would have been quite an anti-climax for the 4,000 had either of them gone for a duck!  But as the match report says they took care with their wickets and “guarded them with as scrupulous care as a sacred relic would have been by monks of old.”

So next they took to the field, with one man bowling and the other presumably covering all fielding positions!  They bowled Oxney all out for a paltry 55 with ‘extras’ as top scorer on 22 (not bad with only one fielder to stop byes).  In their second innings the 2 scored a more modest 48 with Mills caught on 29, this left Oxney to chase 144 for victory.  They made just 77 with extras top scoring again.  The crowd were delighted and match report verdict “we must say that these two scientific players have achieved a triumph that will never be forgotten by those who beheld it”

Unfortunately I don’t have the same detail of the replica match result, I know that the 11 were all out for 153 in the first innings and the 2 replied with 186, but I don’t know how the match ended, if anyone does please get in touch!  I do know that Ashdown was the only first class cricketer to play cricket before World War I and after World War II (he came out of retirement at 48 in 1947 for one final match), but that’s all I had time to find out.

Incomplete scorecard from the 1936 match.  Can any of you fill the gaps for me?

Incomplete scorecard from the 1936 match. Can any of you fill the gaps for me?

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Filed under archive, Cricket

‘The Denton Plan’: the answer to bad umpiring?

Alastair Cook trudges back to the dressing room after a bad lbw decision.

Alastair Cook trudges back to the dressing room after a bad lbw decision.

The debate over what to do about bad umpiring is rife again today after Cook was given out lbw to a ball that was heading wide of off stump.  DRS might have saved him, but is it really the answer?  DRS was introduced to reduce umpire errors but only seems to have stimulated more arguments over its effectiveness and it’s effect on the flow of the game.  It is not being used in the current India v. England test series and in a recent blog Mike Selvey argues that it has made the quality if umpiring worse  (http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2012/dec/03/india-england-drs-umpires-worse ).  And what about cricket at other levels?  Can the Counties afford DRS?  What about club cricket where even providing neutral umpiring can be a challenge in small towns where everyone knows everyone (listen to Montgomery CC members talking about the match where an umpire gave 7 batsmen out lbw in one innings off his son-in-law’s bowling! http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/1960s-club-bowling-legend-bert-davies-and-7-lbws-one-innings).

But fear not cricket fans!  My colleague Alan Rees has discovered the answer to umpiring woes buried deep in the archive.  I present…The Denton Plan!


As you can see the plan is pretty detailed and I couldn’t quite fit it all on my scanner, but I hope this gives you the gist.  Basically the only way a batman can be out is run out or bowled – Bat v. ball is the Denton mantra.  This plan was received by the MCC in 1965 and was surprisingly rejected as it was felt it would received little favour from cricket fans, but what do you think?  Denton believed it would not only solve all umpiring problems but would also make the game more exciting.

Here he lays out all the problems the Denton Plan will solve.  (Problems he claims are mostly caused by Australians!)

Here he lays out all the problems the Denton Plan will solve. (Problems he claims are mostly caused by Australians!)

I have to admit that I’m not entirely convinced.  It might make cricket simpler but the potential complexity of the game is one of the reasons I fell in love with it.  I like a good relaxing draw now and then, I even enjoy bad umpiring decisions deep down – they give you something to discuss and get angry about!  Let me know what you think, could this be the future?


Filed under archive, Cricket, England, India, MCC, umpiring

Another memorable match!

In the latest digital story on http://www.takingthefield.com/ members of Rodley CC talk about their most memorable matches, they’re pretty interesting but don’t really compete with this!

This is an article my friend Andrew found while going through some old correspondence from the 1950s.  It was sent to us in 1959 by a member who thought we might find it interesting.

The article reads…

“Mr K. Bolton, who returned recently to Sydney from a trading trip to the island of Malaita, in the Solomon  group, describes a cricket match that took place between two groups of natives.  An engagement was made for the men of Tai to visit Atta, another small island, for the purpose of deciding the inter-island cricket championship.

Cricket at Malaita is a peculiar game.  As many as 30 or 40 men play on each side.  The bat is a piece of wood, roughly shaped, and the ball a hard ivory nut.  Scoring is carried out in a primitive fashion by tearing off a frond from a palm leaf for every run scored.

When Tai visited Atta, the home team batted first, and scored 10 runs.  Tai claimed the match, and said it was unnecessary for them to bat, as they could not possibly score less.  Amid protests from Atta, they proudly paraded as the winners, and announced their intention of going home.  In this they were loudly supported by their women, who were standing off the island in their canoes.

As the men of Tai waded out to their canoes their boasts proved too much for the Atta natives.  Brandishing hatchets and knives they fell upon the self-styled winners.  A fierce struggle ensued, and one of the Atta team had his arm chopped off at the shoulder.  Many others received knife wounds.

The Government officer in Malaita hearing of the fight, called at the scene of the struggle and held a court.  After hearing evidence, while both teams stood glaring at one another and breathing threats, the officer fined the captain of each team 5s for disturbing the peace.  When the fine was paid, he assembled the teams, and in pidgin English told them that if they played British games they must observe the spirit of British fairplay.”

Pretty memorable!  But probably not as much fun as the Rodley CC matches.

(Article provided by MCC Library).

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The Spectator


I’m currently in the process of putting together a new digital story from Rodley CC, Malcolm Woodhead, Mike Wright and John Fenton talk about the most memorable matches they have played in over their cricketing careers.  I’ve never played cricket, but they got me thinking about my most memorable matches as a spectator – and here they are!

Yorkshire Tea Village cup Final 2012, Reed C.C. vs. Woodhouse Grange C.C.  Lord’s 9th September 2012


An unexpectedly beautiful September day after another disappointing summer.  A perfect day for watching cricket.  The match wasn’t particularly close or thrilling and I didn’t know anything about the teams playing, but I’ve chosen this match as it was one of my nicest days as a spectator.  I’d been working at Lord’s for over six months and was starting to feel really at home there.  My husband had finally found a job after nearly 11 months of stressful job seeking.  I was feeling full of optimism and the joys of late summer!  There was a great atmosphere and it was just a wonderful day’s cricket.

4th Test.  England vs. India.  The Oval.  22nd August 2011.


I remember during days 3 and 4 of this match watching on TV thinking ‘come on England, make in 4-0…just not yet!’  I’d booked tickets to day 5 back in November the year before because they were cheap, I’d had no idea at the time it might mean the chance to see England crowned the world number 1 test side.  I was fairly disappointed not to see Tendulkar’s 100th 100 (he was out on 91) but overall it was a fantastic day.  It was pretty clear early in the day that there was only going to be one result and the crowd were able to just sit back and enjoy it.

World Cup 2011.  11th Match, Group B: India v England at Bangalore, Feb 27, 2011


England versus India again but a very very different match!  I was watching on TV this time and also I didn’t enjoy this match very much so it’s here for drama rather than fun.  When India racked up 338 I thought England didn’t have a chance, especially after their scare against the Netherlands, but almost as soon as the chase began I started to believe.  This is possibly my favourite innings ever from Strauss, and I’m generally a test cricket fan, but he was so impressive,  proving all those who said he shouldn’t be in the One Day squad wrong.  While he was there I was confident England would win as the required run rate dropped over after over – I would have loved to see him there to the end but couldn’t begrudge Zaheer Khan his wicket with that perfect yorker.  After that viewing became less pleasant, after one ball – England have no chance, the next – I think they can do this!  Many said that a tie was probably the right result – but I still maintain Swann could have run 2 off that last ball.

3rd Test.  England vs. Pakistan. Headingly. 6th August 2006.


I’d been watching cricket for a while by this point but I always identify this as the day I fell in love with it.  The 363 stand between Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf was painful to watch at times.  It looked like there was nothing England could do, but this was proper test cricket and I learnt that anything can happen!  This was also the day I fell in love with Strauss as captain, throughout the long long partnership his demeanor in the field remained thoughtful, determined and positive.  With him as captain I felt there was always hope and started to think maybe the Ashes that winter wouldn’t be so awful after all, England had been hit with injuries but with Strauss at the helm…I don’t want to talk about that decision that occurred the following month as the memory is still painful (and also makes me rant and froth at the mouth!)

4th Test.  England vs. Australia. Trent Bridge.  28th August 2005


I imagine this match will be on a lot of people’s lists but for me it has special significance as day 4 of this match was the first cricket I ever saw.  I’m not sure how I managed to get to my mid-twenties without seeing a single ball bowled but I did.  I grew up in a very anti-sport household and the flashes of football I’d witnessed confirmed to me just how unpleasant sport was so I just assumed cricket to be the same and it never entered my head to give it a chance.  On this day, however, I was incredibly hungover and lay dying on the sofa, I hadn’t the energy to protest or care when my husband asked if he could put the cricket on.  What I then saw before me through my blurry vision was utterly hypnotic, I didn’t know the rules or who’s side I was supposed to be on, but it didn’t matter – I just couldn’t look away.

So that’s my top five in my career as a spectator.  If you’d like to hear a more active account of top cricketing experiences keep an eye on http://www.takingthefield.com Rodley CC members will appear there to talk about their favourite matches soon.


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