Tag Archives: library

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

The World Cup effect (1975-1983)

In my latest TTF story Kushil Gunasekera from the Foundation of Goodness talks about one of the effects the 1996 Cricket World Cup had on his country’s cricket – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/new-avenues – it helped promote the game to rural areas in a way not seen before.  It got me wondering about the effect other Cricket World Cups might have had on their hosts, and the effect of the Cricket World Cup on cricket in general.

The first Cricket World Cup was in 1975 in England.  Tony Cozier described the event as “…the boldest and most ambitious innovation since the legalisation of overarm bowling.”  Was he right?  Did it really have such a massive effect?

Excited crowds invade the pitch at the end of the final.

The first Cricket World Cup really captured the public’s imagination.  Here excited crowds invade the pitch at the end of the final.

1975 – Limited Overs One Day Cricket had been introduced just a few years earlier, but perhaps the tournament did do a lot to cement it’s place in cricketing tradition.  It also introduced the format to parts of the cricketing world who were unfamiliar with it, such as India – who attempted to to play out their first game for a draw!  An important aspect of this first World Cup was the fact it was so popular.  It was very successful.  The tournamanet was helped by the fact that England was enjoying it’s hottest summer in around 30 years and luckily the matches were close and exciting.  The event made money, a lot of money relative to this time – around £200,000 from ticket sales and £100,000 from sponsorship.  How different things might have been had it rained and the crowds stayed away, perhaps Kerry Packer would not have been inspired and perhaps the really forceful commercialisation of limited-overs cricket (see previous post The Birth of Carnival Cricket) may never have happened.

WORLD CUP EFFECT ONE: Limited overs cricket introduced to the world on a big stage.

Teams line up at Lord's ready to compete in the 2nd Cricket World Cup in 1979.

Teams line up at Lord’s ready to compete in the 2nd Cricket World Cup in 1979.

1979 – The 2nd Cricket World Cup of 1979 was a post-Packer affair.  The Packer affair did have a direct impact on this Cricket World Cup with several of the best Australian players out of favour for signing up for World Series Cricket.  The Australian teams was therefore a much depleted one, containing several unknowns and the team did not perform well.  Another notable feature was the choice of host country, England again, despite interest in hosting coming from India and the West Indies.  England was chosen over these rivals by the ICC – run by the MCC – based at Lord’s…hmmm – eyebrows were raised but England it was again.  And again the Cricket World Cup was a big financial success and with the issue of player’s pay very much in the arena due to the Packer affair many players felt that their pay packets didn’t reflect the amount of money being made (the victorious West Indians were paid £350 each for the whole tournament).

WORLD CUP EFFECT TWO: Demands from players for better pay gains significant momentum.

India were not expected to win the World Cup but crushed the West Indies in the final.  The victory delighted Indian fans ignited a passion for the shorter format.

India were not expected to win the World Cup but crushed the West Indies in the final. The victory delighted Indian fans ignited a passion for the shorter format.

The next Cricket World Cup in 1983 (hosted by…you guessed it – England!) was to have a massive effect on world cricket for this was the tournament that began the Indian love affair with one-day cricket.

“One deplorable consequence of India’s 1983 victory was an overnight change in the subcontinent’s cricket culture.  Hitherto, one-day cricket had no appeal to speak of there, while domestic first-class matches drew substantial crowds, and Test matches usually played to full houses.  But soon Test-match attendances, even in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata – cities with deep-rooted cricketing traditions – showed a fall, while frenzied, jingoistic crowds packed grounds for one-day games.”  Dicky Ritnagur.

India’s surprise victory captured the nation’s imagination and there was to be no turning back.  The subcontinent’s new post as guardian’s of this lucrative form of cricket may also have had a knock on effect of swinging power from West to East and helping India gain the power and influence they wield over cricket today.

WORLD CUP EFFECT THREE: India’s love of shorter form cricket.

I've won the World Cup!  This trophy used in the 1975, 79 & 83 World Cup's can be seen in the MCC Museum.

I’ve won the World Cup! This trophy used in the 1975, 79 & 83 World Cup’s can be seen in the MCC Museum.

…next time, more cups and more effects!

(Bibliography – The History of the Cricket World Cup by Mark Baldwin,  Wisden History of the Cricket World Cup edited by Tony Cozier, Wisden Cricketer’s Almanack 1976 edited by Norman Preston, A Complete History of World Cup Cricket 1975 – 1999 by Mark Browning.  All these books are available in the MCC Library.)

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Filed under Cricket, Cricket World Cup, digital stories, England, History, India, London, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, MCC, one day cricket, oral history, Sri Lanka, test cricket

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

Too late?

Last week I had my first go at cricket.  I’m 35 years old and have been a cricket fan for 8 years but until last week had never bowled, caught or hit a ball.  I have never intentionally avoided it, the opportunity just never arose, we didn’t play cricket at school, I never came across any friends playing in the park.  I’ve actually been eager to have a go for sometime, but until now have never known anyone who has the gear.

So how did it go?  Well I wasn’t very good!  The batting was OK, although I think my friend was bowling quite easy ones at me, I did really enjoy the batting I loved the feel and sound of leather striking willow with a nice firm thwack, and didn’t even mind that I ended up with bruises all over my right palm (probably due to poor technique).  The bowling was way harder.  It feels so weird having to keep your arm straight.  I founding attempting a run up too difficult, running while doing a windmill thing with my arms – my limbs wouldn’t stay coordinated.  I tried it without a run up but couldn’t seem to generate enough power to get the ball all the way down the pitch (22 yards is actually a really long way).  My friend eventually gave up trying to teach me a run up and let me bowl my balls from half way down the pitch, which made it easier.  I think I’m more of a batsman.

taking a shot

So what’s next for my cricketing career?  Have a left it too late to realise my obvious potential and take my talent on to the international stage?  I would have thought so…until I came across James Southerton while cataloguing some old photographs.  Our cataloguing team here at the MCC are working our way though a massive collection of old photos, some still currently completely uncatalogued.

J Southerton 2nd from left center row (with a rather sinister looking WG Grace 2nd from right)

J Southerton 2nd from left center row (with a rather sinister looking WG Grace 2nd from right)

I’ve been working on this rather marvelous photo of the United South of England Eleven taken in 1875.  I was entering the details of all the figures onto our persons index and was very interested to read that James Southerton was (and remains) the oldest test debutant.  He made his debut at the age of 49 years and 119 days!  He did OK too, taking 3 wickets in a match against Australia, he also played in the following test before retiring from the international game to run a pub.  The important thing is it means there’s hope for me.  If I spend the next 15 years sorting out my bowling action, get my limbs coordinated and manage to get the ball all the way to the other end maybe I could be the one to break his record.  It’s something to aim for.  Wish me luck!

James Southerton - he made his debut at an age that all international cricketers these days would have retired by!

James Southerton – he made his debut at an age that all international cricketers these days would have retired by!

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Filed under Australia, bowling, cataloguing, Cricket, Cricket records, England, History, MCC, test cricket, WG Grace, women's cricket

The birth of “Carnival Cricket”

In a recent digital story Arjuna Ranatunga bemoans the dominance of ‘carnival cricket’ and the threat it poses to the longer form of the game.  http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/protecting-test-cricket .

I was surprised to learn that limited overs cricket didn’t really develop until the 1960s, and even then it would have looked very much like ‘normal’ cricket.  One-day cricket as we now know it, with music, coloured clothing, day-night matches etc could probably be accredited to Kerry Packer.

ODI

1975 Prudential World Cup semi-final. Games were played in traditional whites with the red ball and all matches were daytime matches.

In the very early days of cricket matches were often low scoring, meaning that they could often finish within a day with all 4 innings being bowled.  But as batting techniques improved 3 day games became the county norm.  One-day games were played during World War 2, usually fundraising events, but these matches depended on generous declarations rather than restricted overs to ensure a result within the day.  In 1956 a MCC research committee suggested a limited-overs county knockout competition be introduced to attract more spectators, but the suggestion wasn’t taken up.  It wasn’t until 1963 that a limited overs contest, the Gillette Cup, was finally launched and the world had to wait until 1971 for the first official international one-dayer – and even this only came about as a last resort to offer the crowds a meaningful contest after the first 3 days of a test match in Melbourne were rained off.

World Series cap worn by the Australians team, now part of the MCC museum collection.  Coloured caps and kit were a real novelty when they first appeared.

World Series cap worn by the Australians team, now part of the MCC museum collection. Coloured caps and kit were a real novelty when they first appeared.

It was Kerry Packer’s World Series in 1977 that seriously increased the profile of the shorter game.  Surrounded by a range of controversies this series introduced many of the now familiar features of limited-overs cricket including day night matches, coloured clothing and white balls.  I’m not sure whether Kerry Packer intended to invent all these new features.  He wanted to attract a big TV audience and knew the best way to do this was to have the cricket on in the evening and night primetime, so floodlights were needed, but the players had a problem seeing the red ball well under artificial light so it was changed to white, but then they couldn’t pick up the ball from the cricket whites so the next step was coloured clothing.   Not that I think all the changes had a practical origin, you only have to look at our collection of mementoes to realise that this was intended to be a livelier more colourful style of cricket!

WSC 'boob tube', also in the MCC collection.  Not sure if you'd get away with wearing that in the Lord's pavilion!

WSC ‘boob tube’, also in the MCC collection. Not sure if you’d get away with wearing that in the Lord’s pavilion!

Intentional or not Packer had a real and lasting impact on the world of cricket, and this was even recognised by some at the time.  Wring in 1978 Henry Blofeld stated –  “Already Packer has had a considerable effect on cricket, and if he were to disappear tomorrow his influence would remain.”

So is Test Cricket safe?  I certainly hope so and if the sell out crowd today at Lord’s is anything to go by then I think it will be safe for a while yet.

(Further reading –  One-Day Magic edited by Ken Piesse.  One-Day Cricket by David Lemmon.  The Packer Affair by Henry Blofeld. All available in the MCC library.

Cricket boob-tubes and many other unexpected exhibits can be seen in the MCC museum at Lord’s)

You shouldn't really put on museum objects - don't tell anyone!

You shouldn’t really put on museum objects – don’t tell anyone!

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Filed under Ashes series, Australia, Cricket, digital stories, England, History, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, MCC, one day cricket, war

Streakers

21246

It our latest TTF story David Cole from Ovington CC talks about the bad behaviour from drunken spectators including streaking http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/pitch-invasion-part-one . When I visited in May I was told to expect at least one streaker as there was a big race weekend on in York and there would be lots of jolly drunks heading home from the races and coming across the ground.  I was quite excited and had my camera finger at the ready all afternoon – but they must have been feeling shy that day as I was to be disappointment.  Anyway, my disappointment got me thinking about the history of streaking at cricket matches.  I’ve been surprised to find very little material (ha ha, that’s almost a pun) here in the MCC library – perhaps it’s because no one wants to encourage streakers by making them famous.

I was surprised the learn that the first recorded cricket streaker was as late as 1975 – I would have thought it a much longer tradition (ha ha…no, that one’s very weak, just forget it).  I don’t know if it was televised, but the moment was immortalised by John Arlott on the radio commentary –

“My goodness me, we’ve got an intruder from underneath Father Time in the person of a strapping young man rippling with muscles.  the most remarkable thing about him is that he does not have any clothes on.

There he goes, striding out towards the middle to what I can only describe as the puzzled delight of a big crowd.

He’s making for the wicket at the Nursery End and umpire Tom Spencer doesn’t quite know what to do.  Ooh, would you believe it, he jumps the stumps!  But all’s well, umpire Spencer hasn’t signalled ‘one short’.

And now the amply proportioned young man goes galloping away towards the Mound Stand with his arms outsretched, showing 25,000 people something they’ve never seen before.

And now a young copper comes across and spoils it all.  he’s taken off his helmet, placed it over the offending weapon and now he leads the young man off the field to a night in the cells and a visit to the Marylebone Magistrates Court in the morning”

107441

It sounds as though John Arlott rather enjoyed it, probably because this was the first streak it was something of a novelty.  I think the novelty wore off quite quickly though and they are now regarded as just a nuisance.

Australia v India - Commonwealth Bank Series 2nd Final

Streakers have become a bore and are treated rather more harshly these days.

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Filed under Cricket, History, London, Lord's Cricket Ground, streaking

The Greatest Love of All

bat and ball in love

There are many kinds of love in this world; romantic love, love for your family, passion for religion or ideals, love of justice and truth – to name but a few.  But I’m sure none of you would disagree that the greatest love there is must be the love between a cricket bat and ball, as expressed most movingly in this beautiful poem.

Love in the Meadow.

“My love is red as a damask rose,

And lovers true are we,

Though ever I strive to belabour her,

And she to outwit me;

And yet alone we pine and moan,

We cannot rejoice at all,

For what is a ball without a bat,

Or a bat without a ball?

.

“We never embrace but we often kiss,

We only meet to part;

The farther away I speed my love,

The gladder I am at heart;

And glad is she to torture me,

Gladder to see me fall,

Yet great is the love of the ball for the bat

And the love of the bat for the ball!

.

“Her skin is rough as a Ribston red,

Her heart is O so hard!

And enemy-like she plots and plans

To catch me off my guard;

Yet she is the only love I love,

And I am her all in all;

And stranger thing on the earth’s not seen

Than the marriage of bat and ball.”

Wonderful isn’t it?  If you read that without tears in your eyes you’re a hardier soul than I.

Me at work contemplating the true nature of love.

Me at work contemplating the true nature of love.

(Poem from ‘Willow & Leather: A Book of Praise’ by E.V. Lucas 1898.  This and other such emotional tomes are available at the MCC library).

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Filed under Cricket, love, Poetry