County Cricket Matters Issue 7

Published: 2021
Pages: 32
Author: Chave, Annie (Editor)
Publisher: County Cricket Matters
Rating: 5 stars

Despite the circumstances in which we live the exigencies of getting County Cricket Matters out on time, for its seventh issue, are such that editor Annie Chave has clearly been burning the midnight oil in order to provide us all with some reading material whilst we mark time and wait for the remainder of what has so far proved to be a splendid 2021 County Championship campaign to unfold.

Having also established the splendid County Cricket Natters podcast in recent weeks Annie has, understandably, made just two written contributions to CCM7 and it is with one of those that the issue begins, and what a good one it is, an interview with Ryan Sidebottom. As with all of Annie’s interviews the questions asked are well chosen, and an entertaining dialogue ensues.

After Sidebottom the next man in the frame is another former England player, this time Jack Russell. In his opening paragraph Jack explains that he took three attempts to pass English language ‘O’ level, and apologises for his grammar and spelling. I suspect that in the intervening years Jack has more than made up for any shortcomings in his education, but if that is not the explanation then it must simply be testament to the quality of the editing that Jack’s homily to the county game reads so well.

Jack is followed by Craig Tranter’s quiz, and there is a major change of format for CCM7, but despite the introduction of multiple choice answers it is as fiendish as ever, and indeed possibly more so. I did get off the mark, but overall my numeracy is sufficient to know that I would in all probability have done better if I had simply guessed the answer to every question.

After the quiz there is an important public information piece from Hector Cappelletti. As a part of the structure of the English game the Minor Counties (before that the Second Class Counties) have not, historically, played an important role. I did know that they had recently been rebranded as the National Counties, but had no real understanding of what that meant. Thanks to Hector I do now know the potentially rather more significant place that they now have in the hierarchy of English cricket.

One of the factors that makes cricket the game it is is the way in which a large number of those who have the greatest passion for it, this writer included, are amongst its least skilled practitioners. In CCM7 David Razzell, who is better known in social media circles as WG Rumblepants, interviews George McMenemy – when they google it most people reading this review will recall the clip of George taking his first ever wicket that went viral last summer.

The number of quality cricket books published each year is on the up, and 2020 was no exception and the author of the best of them all, Ashley Gray, has contributed an interesting essay to CCM7 on the background to his groundbreaking The Unforgiven . That piece is followed by an explanation of the aims of a new charity, The Googly Fund, the aim of which is to support the grassroots of the game. The writer of that one is Daniel Forman, one of the charity’s founders.

Guardian writer Gary Naylor is up next, with a look at one of those cricketing subjects that will strike a chord with anyone who is past the first flush of youth, yet is one we almost never think about. Like Gary I remember following Championship matches on the radio and in newspapers, often not knowing the scores until after close of play. In that respect things have changed a great deal in the half century that Gary and I have been following the game.

Annie’s second contribution is another interview, albeit rather different to the Ryan Sidebottom one. This time there are two interviewees, Tim Shutt and James Rufey, both of whom play important roles in that most beautiful of cricketing settings at Arundel, Tim with the Arundel Castle Cricket Foundation and James with the Friends of Arundel Castle Cricket Club.

There are a fortunate few, although I suspect they will become a rarer breed, who are able, without any significant playing career behind them, to make a living out of writing or broadcasting on the subject of cricket. Stephen Lamb has just retired, and presumably for that reason has been able to spare the time to write about how he fell under the game’s spell, and his work in the media.

Anindya Dutta, on the other hand, is an international banker by profession, something which doubtless provides him with sufficient income to enable him to indulge in his passion of cricket writing. On matters of cricket history Anindya is very good indeed, and to CCM7 he contributes a look at the earliest incarnation of T20 cricket, in the industrial heartlands of Yorkshire in the inter war years.

The most regular contributor to CCM, Annie apart, is Derek Payne, aka Deep Fine Throat, who writes a piece about the way English cricket is run for each issue which, generally, only just manages to stay on the right side of that not always easy to see line between being defamatory and simply taking the ****. In CCM7 he is comfortably on the right side and I suspect that this time even those he lampoons will allow themselves a smile when they read what he has to say.

Tony Bishop will be known to some through his involvement with Guerrilla Cricket. He is also a Middlesex supporter and in CCM7 he takes his opportunity to explain his lifelong passion for his county firmly in both hands. On a similar, but at the same time distinctly different tack Harjot Singh, a recent convert to county cricket and new member at Surrey, tells of his feelings about the game.

The penultimate piece, from Marc Jones, is also focussed on a county, but is rather more serious stuff. Marc, a long standing Glamorgan member, looks at the fall out for his county from the ECB’s drive in recent years to ‘sell’ Test matches to new venues. Even with the explanation given I am still not totally convinced that I fully understand what has been going on, but Marc has convinced me that, in line with my gut reaction, I do not approve.

And finally, well not quite finally as the back cover contains a crossword that is a bit too fiendish for the likes of me, but certainly finally as far as the narrative content is concerned is the sort of article you would expect from CCM given its mission statement. BBC Essex commentator Nick Gledhill takes a look at the 2021 county season and more specifically what he sees as the drawbacks coming down the track in September, and he makes some constructive suggestions for an alternative way ahead for 2022.

So far CCM has achieved a five star review for each of its previous issues, one, two, three, four, five and six. Clearly there is only one way that rating can go, but CCM7 does not in any way disappoint, so the run of CricketWeb maximums continues for now.

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