County Cricket Matters Issue 13Martin Chandler |
Author: Chave, Annie (Editor)
Publisher: County Cricket Matters
Rating: 5 stars
A new edition and, for County Cricket Matters thirteenth appearance, a new look. It is only on flicking through this one that you realise that for its first dozen incarnations the magazine’s presentation wasn’t as good as it might have been. The content was of such quality that that did not much matter to those committed to the cause, but I suppose a more professional design was always going to help to impress the neutrals, and the work of Ben Sargent should certainly achieve that. He has done an excellent job and credit is duly given in Annie’s editorial.
In past issues the ‘showpiece’ articles have usually been the interviews, generally carried out by Annie, but not always. This time round there are two, Annie’s contribution being a conversation with Surrey’s Director of Cricket, Alec Stewart. This time round the second is conducted by Deputy Editor Jeremy Lonsdale, with the former Yorkshire player, Worcestershire coach and now freelance coach Kevin Sharp.
Both interviews are excellent, although I have to say that I think natural justice demands that Jack Russell be given a right to reply in respect the Gaffer’s comment about his underpants. Both also give plenty to the ongoing debate about the structure of the game in England. One point that I found revealing in Stewart’s interview followed Annie’s putting to him that in August of 2022 her county, Somerset, played just four days cricket. Stewart’s riposte, in my view not all that helpful, is every county sold August to the ECB for £1.3 million. So, we shouldn’t all start bleating about what happens in August ….
It is a comment to which an observation of Sharp’s is perfectly aimed; It’s not clear why someone in Worcester would go to see The Hundred. It’s an hour to Birmingham on the train, and there are hardly any Worcester players in the Birmingham team. What would drive Worcester people to go to Edgbaston on a Wednesday or Friday night?
There is, in my opinion, absolutely no reason why The Hundred cannot stay as it is and in addition four rounds of championship matches be played in August. Surrey supporters rail at that suggestion as they would lose most of their team. I say that is the price of success, and that part of the skill in managing a county is to prepare for such an August. In any event any perceived unfairness can easily be addressed by, for August only, tweaking the rules about loans and overseas players.
But I digress, this is meant to be a review and not a vehicle for my thoughts on a subject close to the heart of every CCM reader, so I will leave that one there other than to strongly recommend that anyone reading CCM 13 begin with those two interviews, Stewart first, and then Sharp.
So what’s next? The eagle eyed will have noticed that as well as being Issue 13 this is the first CCM to have a title, the entirely appropriate Winter Warmers, so clearly the piece bearing that title from Paul Edwards must be next and his thoughts on the end of a cricket season are, like everything he writes, full of insight and, for any cricket lover, easy to identify with.
Paddy Briggs is an experienced writer, whose biography of John Shepherd was one of the early releases in the ACS Lives in Cricket series. His reminiscences about watching cricket at Fenners in the 1960s when Cambridge University sides including names like Mike Brearley, Edward Craig, Roger Prideaux and Tony Lewis would regularly duel with the best players in England are a beautifully paced look at a type of cricket that is no longer played.
It was a surprise to see a contribution from Pat Rodgers, not because he is not a fine writer (search for him in our review list for confirmation of that), but because he is an Australian. But in fact that makes him ideally qualified for his chosen topic, the surprisingly large number of county cricketers, including fourteen current ones, who have competed in Sydney Grade cricket.
Even further away from England than Pat Rodgers is Kent supporter Peter Hoare, who lives in New Zealand. The wonders of modern technology nonetheless allow him to watch every match of the county that he followed in the 1980s and 1990s and his contribution comes in the form of a letter addressed to an old friend, many years his senior and now long deceased, on the subject of the current state of Kent cricket and in particular Darren Stevens, and the cup final victory over Lancashire at Trent Bridge last summer. By virtue of those factors alone the content of the letter is contemporary, but with plenty of nostalgia thrown in as well.
On the subject of technology and live streaming there is also a thought provoking piece from Joel Lamy, who explains from his own experience how the digital revolution has benefitted those with disabilities. But there are still those who go to the grounds and Andrew Dennis, veteran of a dozen matches at a variety of locations over the 2022 summer, has penned an interesting reflection on the experience.
A completely new topic to me is that covered by Chris Berry, The Cricket Asylum Foundation, which focuses on a Yorkshire side who took on a team of asylum seekers from countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and El Salvador. It is an uplifting story, the visitors making up for what they lacked in English language skills by their cricketing talents, which enabled them to win the match comfortably.
As always CCM does not ignore the women’s game and Somerset’s Sophie Luff articulates her take on the changes that have taken place in recent years and the direction of travel of women’s cricket in England. The other female contributor this month is Sharmila Meadows who sets out her thoughts on Duncan Hamilton’s acclaimed 2010 biography of Harold Larwood.
Which leaves just three contributions to mention, the first of which is The Void’s crossword, which I intend to tackle on Boxing Day, Durham’s Head Groundsman Vic Demain’s look at pitch preparation and the intriguingly titled A Funeral at Bournemouth by Garry White. That one is a personal memoir of the Hampshire v Middlesex match at Dean Court in 1992, the last First Class match to be played at the old ground.
And a rating for number thirteen? Well it is CCM, and as good as all the others, so has to be five stars.