County Cricket Matters Issue 5

Published: 2020
Pages: 39
Author: Chave, Annie (Editor)
Publisher: County Cricket Matters
Rating: 5 stars

County Cricket Matters (CCM) is always a cause of mixed feelings. First there is the sense of anticipation and delight that comes from getting home from work to be greeted by an envelope bearing the unmistakable handwriting of Annie Chave. But then an hour’s reading and a couple of reprimands from my good lady for not listening to the story of her day later there is a  tinge of regret that it will be another three months before the next issue is due. Such are the vicissitudes of life I suppose.

So what delights are in store in Issue 5? For openers there is an interview by Annie. The man on the end of the grilling this time round is Jason Gillespie, the man who coached Yorkshire to the 2014 and 2015 Championship titles – the Ashes and Test cricket are not on the agenda.

Following ‘Dizzy’ is a CCM debut for Alan Butcher with a piece that I am going to nominate as my favourite this time round. Since reading The Good Murungu, Butcher’s first and, so far, only book I have told him several times, and in no uncertain terms, that he should write an autobiography. On that one I can now rest my case. A man who can conjure up stories like the one that tells of his fourteen year old self giving West Indies Test batsman Basil Butcher advice on how to bat against the then current Australian mystery spinner Johnny Gleeson really does owe the game more than one book.

Also appearing for the first time in CCM is another fine county cricketer, Paul Smith. A few years younger than Butcher their playing careers still overlapped and something else they both have in common is so far having written one very good book. Butcher’s Gleeson story sets the highest of bars, but Smith is not far behind.

One aspect of county cricket that CCM does not lose sight of is its long and fascinating history, and there are three historical pieces this time round. One is from the well known historian Ric Sissons. I had always assumed that Sissons was an Aussie through and through, but it turns out that he was brought up in Derbyshire before moving to Sydney. In the circumstances it is no surprise that Sissons’ contribution is on the subject of Victor Trumper’s connection with the county of his birth.

The second slice of history is from lifelong Middlesex supporter Roy Simmons, a man who fell under the game’s spell in the vintage summer of 1947. His subject is another Middlesex man, Drewy Stoddart, the double (or was it triple?) international and Ashes captain who died by his own hand in 1915.

Finally on matters historical there is a contribution from Colin Babb, author of the excellent 1973 And Me. Given the subject matter of that book it is perhaps not surprising that Babb looks at the subject of West Indians in county cricket in the 1970s, a decade when their presence around the country made a huge impact, particularly in the new 40, 55 and 60 over one day formats.

A recurring theme in CCM is contributors telling the story of their own histories with the game of cricket, and there are three of those in CCM5. The first is from Chris Marshall, who returned to the UK in 2018 after a quarter of a century overseas, and the second from Mike Unwin, a Somerset supporter since the 1950s. The third of these is a particularly interesting one, Loving Cricket With Autism by Andrew Edwards, which I suspect will strike a chord with rather more readers than Edwards might have expected.

It wouldn’t be right for CCM not to have a look at a couple of county cricketers and Issue 5 does not let us down there. Firstly there is a piece from Sam Dalling on James Hildreth, a man who has surely now joined John Langridge and Don Shepherd amongst those cricketers who have been the unluckiest not to enjoy an international career. The second is a rather more discursive essay by Jane Gulliford Lowes on the subject of Scott Borthwick, and his decision to return to Durham after four years at The Oval..

Something that CCM has not explored before, but hopefully intends to look at more in the future, is the game’s memorabilia. It was a pleasure to read Martin Weiler’s homily to the humble scorecard.

CCM has never ignored the women’s game and this time round the contributor on that subject is Tom Huelin, the man responsible for ensuring that Michael Bates’ story found its way into print. His essay is entitled The Tale of Two Vipers, the pair in question being Charlotte Taylor and Emily Windsor.

There are three regular features putting in an appearance. I did a little better in Craig Tranter’s quiz this time, although it might be more appropriate to say my performance was not quite so poor as previously. The fiendish crossword is here as well, as are Derek Payne’s revelations about what really goes on at the ECB. 

Which leaves just one more article. Having already nailed my colours to the mast and named Alan Butcher’s as my favourite piece in CCM 5 I have to concede that the editor’s Addressing an Asian Minority is the most important. It is not a statistical piece at all, but it is a stat I wasn’t aware of that underlines the message. 35% of recreational cricket is played in the Asian community, reflected in 6% of county cricketers coming from that background – food for thought indeed.

And a rating? Five again – there is no better value to be had this Christmas than £2.50 plus £1.50 for UK postage for CCM 5 so, if you don’t already subscribe, get along to the website and do so.

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