County Cricket Matters Issue 14

Published: 2023
Pages: 38
Author: Chave, Annie (Editor)
Publisher: County Cricket Matters
Rating: 5 stars

Once I start leaving the office in daylight I know the new cricket season is not too far away, a message reinforced by the arrival of the March issue of County Cricket Matters. The previous 13 issues have all been excellent, and it comes as no surprise to me that this one demonstrates the same high standard as its predecessors.

As always Annie begins with a succinct introduction, which highlights that however much comfort those of us who love the First Class game may draw from the fact that we are not alone in our passion, the threat to ‘real’ cricket is, in the manner of dry rot, spreading insidiously throughout the cricket world.

The issues facing the counties are looked at in some detail in the main interview in CCM14, between Annie and the recently retired Somerset batsman James Hildreth. His measured take on the subject are just what you would expect from an intelligent man who loves the game, but at the same time understands the not always straightforward task of earning a living as a professional cricketer. There is much else in the interview however, Hildreth’s memories of his cameo appearance as a substitute fielder in the 2005 Ashes and of scoring a century whilst nursing a broken ankle being particular highlights.

A man who knows as much about county cricket and its enduring appeal as anyone is Stephen Chalke, and his choosing to contribute to CCM is an endorsement all those involved should immensely proud of. Stephen introduces a subject close to his heart, the network of cricket societies that exist in the UK, and what they offer to committed enthusiasts.

Andrew Harding’s affectionate tribute to Lancashire legend Jack Simmons is one that will resonate with all who followed the county game in the 1970s and 1980s. Off spinner, hard hitting batsman and renowned trencherman ‘Simmo’ was a tremendous character and, now into his eighties, by all accounts still is.

A number of CCM contributors have, over the thirteen previous issues, written of the men and the matches who were instrumental in their being captivated by county cricket. This time round it is the turn of Martin Hadland, who has been a Middlesex member for a quarter of a century, but who followed Worcestershire as a youngster in the 1960s. His delightfully written memories will doubtless inspire others and ensure that CCM continues to publish such pieces for many issues to come.

Surrey member David Gill provides an interesting piece. He begins by referencing the origins of the game back in the sixteenth century, but this is no dry history of English cricket. Ultimately he makes the point that the success of franchise cricket provides opportunities for his county as well as threats, and as a man who seems to have spent his working life in sports management his views are worth reading.

The game’s grass roots are a good subject for CCM, and this time round we have the story of Russell Perry and a lifetime spend playing cricket, coaching young cricketers and helping to run the game in Northumberland.

Another Russell, Holden this time, is a sports sociologist. His Continuity and Crisis is an important look at the way cricket in England is perceived and why, despite some memorable on-field achievements in the last twenty years, the game has failed to take advantage of those. There is analysis, explanations and questions and, if there are no answers, there are pointers as to where those might be found.

The single most thought provoking piece in CCM14 is by Sharmila Meadows. Her contribution is not about the women’s game, and indeed for once there is nothing directly on that subject in CCM14. What Sharmila writes of is the experience of being a female member of a male dominated crowd at a cricket match, and it is something we should all read and take note of.

Former Sussex and Notts opening batsman Chris Nash then answers a few questions about his career in a feature that is perhaps going to become a regular one? It is not exactly an interview, and indeed there is no byline, but it is certainly an excellent idea and reassuring to see that another recently retired professional cricketer feels that the county game needs to be preserved.

The Q&A with Chris Nash is followed by the final interview in CCM14, and one which has shades of both the Hadland and Perry contributions. This one is conducted by Deputy Editor Jeremy Lonsdale with Andrew Hignell. Amongst other cricketing roles Andrew is Glamorgan’s scorer and he talks about he came into cricket as well as his numerous other positions over the years. One aspect of Andrew’s life that isn’t gone into is his extensive efforts to chronicle the game in Wales – perhaps that is one for a future issue of CCM?

There is a most original piece from Chris Fauske, an Essex supporter living in exile in the US. The background to his story involves a series of messages exchanged with an American friend whilst the latter, visiting England, chose to attend a county match at Lord’s and, following his return, continued to take an interest in the game. Later Chris went through his phone to see what cricketing words were prompted by his autosuggest feature – the result is an entertaining A-Z miscellany (well, A-W to be more precise!).

The closing feature, other than one of those (to me) fiendish crosswords that I have yet to finish but one day will, is from the curator of the Somerset Cricket Museum a place that, tragic as I am, is definitely on my bucket list to visit when I do finally get around to retiring. Mike Unwin certainly makes a good job of extolling the Museum’s virtues and whetting the appetite for a visit.

So another five star offering from County Cricket Matters, and if you’ve got this far but still haven’t subscribed, you really should get on an do so. The cost of a year’s subscription, including UK postage, is a £15, modest indeed for four issues of such a high quality publication.

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