A Schoolboy’s Cricketing Summer: Having The Time of my Life

Published: 2024
Pages: 36
Author: Cavanagh, Roy
Publisher: Red Rose Books
Rating: 3.5 stars

It is a source of some regret to me that I couldn’t write a monograph like this one from Roy Cavanagh, or at least not in the same way. If I could my year would have been 1974, but I was only able to attend two days of county cricket in that summer half a century ago, although those two days were at Stanley Park in Blackpool, a venue that would be familiar to the 14 year old Cavanagh.

Cricket watching opportunities were rather different time for a 14 year old Cavanagh. For him the year was 1961, so not that many years earlier, but a different era in cricketing terms. Back then there was still the amateur/professional divide, and the only form of the game that was played was what we now call the ‘red ball game’. Even the first faltering steps of the English game into limited overs cricket were two years away.

A Manchester United fan as well as a Lancashire supporter Cavanagh, who lived but a short distance from the two Old Traffords, had no difficulty in getting to the grounds so, his school commitments apart, had plenty of opportunity to spend days at the cricket and, the family holiday being taken in Blackpool, he had the chance to watch Lancashire at Stanley Park as well.

And in A Schoolboy’s Cricketing Summer Cavanagh tells the story of Lancashire’s summer from his own memories, with the occasional digression to look at the Ashes contest that took place that summer, with Richie Benaud’s team retaining the urn that they had so comprehensively taken back in 1958/59.

It wasn’t a vintage season for Lancashire. They began it with high hopes after finishing runners-up the previous year but, with Hampshire unexpectedly winning their first title, 1961 saw them finish back in 13th place. Despite that Cavanagh saw plenty of good cricket, and more than enough to fuel the passion for the sport that has stayed with him ever since.

And that is all there is to it. The story covers the whole of the summer, and at the end there is a brief biographical look at each of the twenty men who appeared for the Red Rose in 1961. Cavanagh tries to tell the story through his 14 year old eyes rather than with the benefit of hindsight and that makes A Schoolboy’s Cricketing Summer as enjoyable to read as I am sure it was to write.

The subject matter of this one means that it is inevitable that it will appeal in the main to Lancashire supporters of a certain age, but that is not to say that it won’t appeal to Lancashire supporters of any age who have an interest in the county’s history, or indeed any cricket lover at all who is interested in the English game as it was played in the early 1960s.

As is generally the case with this publisher the book comes in two versions. There are copies with card covers at £8 each inclusive of UK postage and packing, and 14 signed and numbered hardbacks at £36 each. For those in exile in the southern hemisphere copies are available from Roger Page.

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