County Court Matters Issue 11

Published: 2022
Pages: 38
Author: Chave, Annie (Editor)
Publisher: County Cricket Matters
Rating: 5 stars

Its mission statement of 18 Counties One Voice is unchanged, and so is the logo, but with Issue 11 County Cricket Matters has had something of a makeover. The vital questions therefore are have the contents of this splendid publication changed? and is it still a five star read? The answer to the second is yes. As to the first in a sense the answer there is no, although there has been something of a change of emphasis.

The two most significant articles this time round occupy a quarter of the pages of the magazine between them. Both illustrate very well why county cricket, and therefore CCM, is needed. The first is Annie Chave’s interview, a lengthy one with Paul Nixon, under whose watch as head coach Leicestershire, a county who would no longer exist if some had their way, have made such progress recently. The second is a piece by Andy Nash, a former ECB director and Somerset Chairman who looks, with the help of a few associates who remain nameless, in detail at the issues that are to be the subject of the ‘Strauss Review’.

Then there are other a couple of other contributions on the subject of the issues facing county cricket today. Ian Thornton contributes the text of an open letter to MCC President elect, Stephen Fry, putting forward an unarguably sensible and pragmatic suggestion as to how to foster interest in the game amongst the young. Then in his piece Bill Allen explains the raison d’être of The Real Cricket Campaign a group which, as its name suggests, is very much on the same wavelength as CCM.

One of CCM’s strengths has been that it does not forget the contributions of generations of players who have long since left the field of play. There is not quite so much in Issue 11 of that historical ilk, but nonetheless John Stone provides a profile of the Derbyshire pace bowler Bill Bestwick, whose career began at the very start of the twentieth century. At the same time George Thompson was primarily responsible for turning Northamptonshire into a First Class county and his biographer, Andrew Radd, contributes a piece that will surely help generate interest in his excellent book.

Another familiar theme to regular readers of CCM are its writers’ accounts of what first brought them under the spell of the county game. Dan Norcross contributes such an essay, recalling early visits to Kennington Oval. Of rather more recent vintage is Lauren Gemmell, who demonstrates very clearly that our great game has just as much appeal to new cricket lovers as it does to its long established support base. 

And there are a number of other excellent pieces on an eclectic range of subjects. I particularly enjoyed Phil McCann’s paean to club cricket’s unsung heroes, those responsible for the provision of refreshments. It brought back pleasant memories of Warborough and Shillingford CC, where we lower order batsman always longed for the skipper to win the toss and field first in order that we could enjoy an extended tea interval and help hoover up that which it would a tragedy to let go to waste.

It was interesting also to read Andy Murtagh’s contribution on the subject of his nephew Tim, the newly appointed Middlesex captain who is approaching his 41st birthday. Just a couple of years older is the new ECB director of men’s cricket, Rob Key, and Zanda Bertwistle looks back with fondness and humour at his time as Key’s near neighbour.

Elsewhere Anthony Gibson reminisces about commentary boxes he has inhabited over the last half century, and there are also two other media related articles. Gary Naylor writes about his weekly column on county cricket in The Guardian, and Terry Blake looks at the history of how the game has been televised in England.

And finally, there is, naturally, the regular appearance of Derek Payne, aka Deep Fine Throat, with his irreverent look at recent goings on at the ECB. This time Derek navigates a course that is just on the right side of the libel laws, although if ‘Kevin Rhino’ hasn’t already blocked him on twitter, he surely will now.

Which neatly covers everything. There is no quiz from Craig Tranter this time, which is a relief as they always remind me that there is much more about cricket that I don’t know than I do know. And I shall also on this occasion decline to comment on the crossword, on the basis that I have decided to adopt a change of tack, and not even attempt that until after this review is posted. At least that way I will have three months in which to grapple with it, rather than just a few days.

As always County Cricket Matters’ magazine is an excellent read and highly recommended. It can be purchased via the CCM website, as can all the previous issues.

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