County Cricket Matters Issue 8Martin Chandler |
Author: Chave, Annie (Editor)
Publisher: County Cricket Matters
Rating: 5 stars
As another unfamiliar looking summer for English cricket reaches it’s climax, the splendid County Cricket Matters magazine reaches Issue 8. Every bit as readable as its predecessors this one chalks up another five stars, and the good news for all those who buy and enjoy this but haven’t previously done so is that you have seven treats in store, as the contents of the back issues are as relevant now as they were when they first appeared.
Turning right away to the content of CCM8 it is a case of a great deal changing, and just a few things staying the same. In a masochistic sort of way I rather missed Craig Tranter’s quiz, so at least this time round I am not left wondering why it is that after all these years I don’t actually seem to have learnt a great deal about the game. There is a crossword however, and whilst I have a good deal of that to go I have, rather to my surprise, made a reasonable start.
Turning to the more serious issues that CCM stands for Annie begins with a hard hitting editorial, and I would encourage all readers to accept her invitation to contribute to the on-going debate on what is the best future for English cricket. I shall certainly take the opportunity to do so myself, although before doing so intend to reflect on the observations of former New Zealand Test bowler Simon Doull, the subject of Annie’s interview, and what he has to say on the subject of domestic cricket in New Zealand. I will also be re-reading the fascinating contribution that David Griffin makes to the debate, on the question of how much cricket is actually played.
Other current topics are looked at in other articles. I particularly enjoyed Graham Lloyd’s evident delight at Glamorgan’s lifting of the new edition of the Royal London Cup. On the same level was Brian Carpenter’s description of his day at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, looked at though the eyes of a man who had clearly visited the famous spa town many times in what I will describe as ‘more normal times’.
There couldn’t be an issue of CCM without a trip or three down memory lane, and those making that journey this time are David Levenson, Paul Severn and former Gloucestershire and Glamorgan seamer and now renowned broadcaster Alan Wilkins. The longest journey is taken by Wilkins, back to his days in the Western League. A decade later and Levensen is at Lord’s for a 1979 Gillette Cup semi-final between Middlesex and Somerset, and for Severn it is a journey that started another ten years on when he watched, as a nine year old, Notts lift the old Benson and Hedges Cup in a dramatic last over denouement.
Another ‘historical’ article is by Barney Spender. No one under 50 will remember the old Cricketcall commentary service, and indeed I had quite forgotten it myself. Spender’s recollections stirred some old memories and prompted no little reflection on my youth, far from least amongst them being the amount of money my use of that service must have cost my then employers.
In case anyone reading this wasn’t aware I will doubtless take no one by surprise by stating that I am rather partial to a bit of cricket literature, and I was therefore very pleased to see not only a couple of reviews in CCM 8, but also an extract from an excellent if rather difficult to acquire book from a few years back, the autobiography of Eddie Barlow. The two reviewers are Annie herself, who tackles Dennis Amiss’s autobiography, and Allan Engel, who looks at David Townsend’s recent book on Irish cricket.
Which leaves another half dozen writers to introduce, and an eclectic bunch they are too. Robin Hobbs, the former Essex, England and Glamorgan leggie takes a not very optimistic view of the trade he used to ply. Richard Clarke tells his reader about the current state of the women’s game, and Lachlan Smith takes a thought provoking look at county cricket and the LGBTQ+ community.
Returning now to Annie’s invitation, the remaining three articles are all relevant to that, or at least two of them are anyway. Long time ECB Marketing Director (from 1989 to 2003) Terry Blake uses the perspective that experience gives him to explain the way the game has changed since 1963, the historic year in which gentlemen and players became cricketers. In a rather more emotional piece James Morgan expresses his disapproval of the English game’s present direction of travel in trenchant terms.
Which leaves just one, and the ‘and finally’ moment this time goes to Derek Payne, aka Deep Fine Throat, who provides his usual insider’s look at the ECB. As scurrilous as ever his thoughts are saved from the danger of a libel writ flying his direction by virtue of the fact that his work is genuinely humourous.
So once again Annie and the team have made a fine contribution to the current debates within the English game, something for which we should all be grateful. This issue is, like all the others, available for purchase here. As I say all the previous issues are equally worthwhile and, for those who are interested, here are some links to our reviews of them.