Cricket In The Park

Published: 2009
Pages: 288
Author: Packham, Roger
Publisher: Methuen
Rating: 4 stars

Cricket In The Park

Cricket in the Park is primarily a book about Lord Sheffield and his famous residence that bore his family name, Sheffield Park. Lord Sheffield is famous in the annals of cricket history for two things:

1. The Sheffield Shield that the Australian States play for, which was made possible by the generosity of his Lordship and his donation of 150 pounds to make the purchase of the shield possible.
2. The hosting of matches at his private ground in England, which featured a number of visiting Australian teams.

However if you read Cricket in the Park you will quickly learn that there is a lot more to the Lord Sheffield story.

The author Roger Packman performs a quality job in capturing the contrasting personality of his Lordship. A great benefactor of sports and the city of Sheffield, he was quick to take offence at what appears from the distance of time the most trivial of slights.

Lord Sheffield was a benefactor in the truest sense of the word. I once read a cricket book which gave an explanation of a cricket benefactor as compared to a sponsor. It basically stated that a benefactor supplied money for the sport of cricket because of the enjoyment the sport gave him, whereas a sponsor supplied money because they wanted to make money from the game.

I have been racking my brain to remember where I read the above explanation, which I should admit was written it a more concise manner than my effort. Could it be from Beyond A Boundary?

Cricket in the Park is a thorough examination of Lord Sheffield?s life; in the end it was what the author didn?t say that was most noticeable. One question in particular remained unanswered, it seems his Lordship at the age of 63 adopted a 24 year old woman named Mabel Strey Attenborough, who became the hostess of Sheffield Park. The obvious question is did the Lordship have a physical relationship with Miss Attenborough, in the end the author frustratingly does not speculate on the subject.

One of the great quirks of Lord Sheffield was his almost complete aversion to having his photograph taken, with no clear images of his Lordship in existence. However Roger Packman mentions that on one occasion his Lordship was so impressed with a bridge being completed on his property that he allowed his photo to be taken on the new structure. What happened to the photo? Again no information or speculation from the author is supplied.

The book itself is conveniently set out in a compartmentalised format which makes for easy reference, which is helpful as the book does not contain an index.

Rereading the above review it seems overly harsh, which is misleading, as this is a well written publication which fills an important gap in the literature of cricket. It should be read by all cricket lovers no matter their level of knowledge as the quality of writing makes it accessible to all.

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