The Eccentric Entrepreneur

Published: 2008
Pages: 218
Author: Rijks, Miranda
Publisher: The History Press
Rating: 4 stars

The Eccentric Entrepreneur
The Eccentric Entrepreneur

This is the biography of Sir Julien Cahn Bt. who was one of the most generous cricketing benefactors. The difference between a benefactor and a sponsor is the sponsor wants something in return for their investment whereas the benefactor invests simply for the love of the game.

Sir Julien was wealthy enough in the 1930s to not only afford his own cricket team, known unoriginally as Sir Julien Cahn’s XI he also had his own ground built for his team to play home matches on. The team was very powerful sometimes playing against Test class opposition. Their eventual record was impressive only losing 19 out of 621 matches played. It seems Sir Julien was not enamoured with the prospect of losing and would do his part to save his team from defeat, such as extending the lunch break, where he would encourage the opposition to consume excessive amounts of alcohol. The players in Sir Julien Cahn’s XI were all of first class and sometimes Test standard except for one, the captain Sir Julien himself, perhaps the worst player in the annals of the game to have played first class cricket.

Sir Julien played six First Class matches for his own team. He fortunately usually stood down from his team when they played first class matches. His habit of batting in specially inflated pads similar to inner tyre tubes and later in specifically designed steel pads made him a comical figure. His fielding was also unique, he would stand at long on or long off and if a ball was hit to him too firmly he would step out of the way and allow the fieldsman deliberately placed behind him to stop the ball. When Sir Julien would run out of the way of a towering hit and let it fall harmlessly to the ground, he would often receive deprecating comments from the crowd. At his home ground he would have the spectators removed and the game would continue in silence. The crowd could not really complain as Sir Julien never charged an entry fee.

The author of The Eccentric Entrepreneur is Sir Julien’s granddaughter and although Miranda Rijks is not a cricket historian she has performed a credible job in describing her grandfather’s love of the summer game.

Although cricket was an enjoyable part of Sir Julien’s life it was only one facet of this complicated businessman. He was also an amateur magician who would present his own shows in his own state of the art private theatre, usually he would not charge admission for the crowds which would number 300 and on the rare occasions he did charge a nominal entry fee it would be donated to charity.

To cover all of Sir Julien Cahn’s many varied interests, his generous charity work and donations, his hugely successful business interests as well as his fondness for hunting would take twice as long as the space we dedicate to book reviews. Luckily the author of The Eccentric Entrepreneur has seemingly covered all of the varied facets of Sir Julien’s life. Perhaps more cricket would have been nice, however this is a well written and informative read on one of the great characters of cricket history. Recommended.

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