Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Another Horace

posted by John Winn

As far back as the 31st March 2014 in a posting I made welcoming the start of another season I quoted from the poet Horace. Over the next few days this sparked some of Headingley's finest brains to think of Horaces  who had played cricket. Tony came up with Horace Fisher of Yorkshire and Horace Hazell of Somerset and I put a couple of short accounts of these two men's careers on the blog. To my surprise and quite by chance I came across another Horace, a Yorkshire man no less, when thumbing the 1964 Wisden for on page 954 was the obituary of one Horace Rudston who had died in April 1962, aged 82.

Born in Hessle where he also died Horace played as a professional for Yorkshire from 1902 to 1907. It is perhaps significant that his obituary appeared a year late for he did not set the broad acres on fire. Scoring 609 runs in 21 games  for the county 269 of which were in one match against Leicestershire in 1904, 164 runs in the first innings.  But Wisden, in the eight lines they spared for his belated obituary drew attention to what they describe as an 'eventful' match at Bristol in 1906.

In today's hyperbolic world 'eventful' would not do the game justice. Played on the 23rd, 24th and 25th of August Gloucestershire batted first and were bowled out for 164 with William Ringrose taking five wickets including that of Jessop and FH Bateman-Champain* top scoring with 42. Yorkshire responded in similar vein conceding a five run deficit with left arm spinner George Dennett opening the bowling and taking 8 for 86 . The west countrymen fared a little better in their second innings with Jessop hitting 34 in almost even time and Hirst accounting for five thus leaving Yorkshire 234 to win. Despite 52 from Wilfred Rhodes Yorkshire were five down for 119 with Dennett, who bowled unchanged again, having three to his name when Rudston was joined by skipper Ernest Smith with whom he added 66 until Horace, attempting to square cut Jessop hit his wicket. Yorkshire were not done for and when Hunter was ninth out victory was not out of the question with just 11 needed. Nine of those were gathered by Myers and Ringrose before the latter was lbw to Jessop, the croucher's 750th first class wicket. Thus Gloucestershire won by one run, for which they were awarded one point while Yorkshire were deducted one.

Yorkshire played one more championship game that season, v Somerset at Bath which they won by 389 runs, George Hirst a century in each innings, for which gave them another point which left them level on points with Kent who had won their last eleven fixtures. With counties playing different numbers of matches Kent's higher percentage gave them the first of four championships they were to win before the first world war intervened.

In what might so easily have become 'Rudston's match' over three hundred overs were bowled, more than 77 of them by Denning, without his skipper once having to suggest he take a spell. George was no stranger to hard work for he bowled over 1000 overs that season taking 160 wickets including a tenfor against Essex at Bristol.  The umpires were Messrs Millward and West but which one of them gave Ringrose out lbw and so virtually hand the title to Kent we shall probably never know.

* The Bateman-Champains were something of a cricketing family with five brothers playing in the XI at Cheltenham College. An Oxford Blue, Francis Henry would have played more for Gloucestershire had it not been for his duties as a schoolmaster at Wellington and Cheltenham. He hit a hundred for the university against the 1899 Australians and played
for the Gentlemen against the Players on two occasions. His playing days over he took up fruit farming in Canada.

Friday, 13 October 2017

A Corinthian spirit

posted by John Winn

With Arthington behind us and Boxing Day still more than ten weeks away the pcw must find alternative ways to quench his/her thirst for all things cricket and for this blogger the winter provides the opportunity to catch up on reading and I have this week finished 
‘ Runs and Catches' the slim autobiography of Tony Pawson. 

Pawson, who died in 2012 aged 91 is described in his Wisden obituary as 'one of the last of the brilliant all-round sportsman who emerged from the public schools and bestrode English sport in the first half of the twentieth century'. His cv certainly supports this view for coming from a privileged background, his father captained Oxford in 1910, Tony followed in dad's footsteps and went to Winchester and after a distinguished war he entered Christ Church College, Oxford, made a hundred in the 1947 Varsity match then captained the Dark Blues the following year.  That would be enough for most of us but he had played for Kent after being demobbed and made 90 on debut..A good county player Pawson freely admits he was not good enough for test cricket but given his credentials it would not have been surprising had he been selected. Think JG Dewes and JJ Warr.

Away from cricket HA Pawson was also an outstanding footballer in the halcyon days of the amateur game. An Oxford blue he was selected for the England amateur XI, played for Pegasus when they won the Amateur Cup in 1951, and fitted in a couple of games for Charlton Athletic, scoring on his debut against Spurs .If all this adds up to something out of the pages of Hotspur rather than Wisden then the icing on the cake is yet to come for in 1984 Tony became world champion in the sport that gave him most satisfaction, namely fly fishing. Born in Sudan he first fished in the Nile as a four year old and after his successful debut for Kent announced to his skipper Bryan Valentine that he was not available for the next match, 'gone fishing, there's a sign upon my door' to borrow from the Louis Armstrong song. 'Runs and Catches' has on its cover a photo of Pawson batting for Kent against Middlesex at Lord's in 1947 and on the back he is shown landing a salmon on the Scottish Avon.

Like most of us HA had to make a living and after a spell as a schoolmaster at Winchester he had a very successful career with Reed International where he was Personnel Director but then turned his hand to journalism and it is for his writings on cricket in The Observer that I best  remember him. When asked how he had the patience for fishing his reply was
that 'the only patience needed is to endure the months and days when you can't fish'. Substitute watching cricket for fishing and that sums up quite nicely the philosophy of the pcw

The umpires set forth to start the last game of the season at Arthington

Monday, 9 October 2017

Yorkshire then and now.

Posted by Tony Hutton

Last week I had the pleasure to listen to Mark Rowe, author of a new book on Brian Sellers, the former Yorkshire captain and cricket chairman for many years. As Mr Rowe admitted in his rather unorthodox presentation it was a book that should have been written by J.M. Kilburn, the long time Yorkshire Post cricket correspondent.

However Mark Rowe stated that he tried to have a balanced look at Sellers life. He was the most successful county captain of all time. Yet many people fell out with him or didn't like him, particularly in his role as administrator, or virtual dictator, that it was hard to find many plus points. I think the same can be said about Yorkshire's cricket during 2017 which has come in for a lot of criticism from the majority of supporters who demand success at all times.

The end to the season in the game against Essex at Chelmsford and the earlier game against the same opposition at Scarborough were very much the low points of the year and I had reached the stage where I felt it best not to comment at all as so much had been said already. However several people have urged me to express my opinion. My blogging colleague 'Backwatersman', who has entertained us all season with his writings on Leicestershire and Northamptonshire, was one who wanted to know what was going on - as if I knew!

So rather reluctantly here goes. The first thing to look at is the predicament of Andrew Gale, captain of two championship winning sides, thrown in at the deep end to replace Jason Gillespie as coach without any previous experience. Gale is of course very close to all the players, some might say too close, but no doubt he has their confidence and will have learned a lot from his first season in charge.
I am not one of those, and there are many, who are calling for his resignation. He needs more time to settle into the role and I for one am all in favour of having a Yorkshireman in charge rather than someone from overseas.

Which leads me nicely onto the next topic - overseas players, which has always been a thorny question for Yorkshire. They have had some very good ones notably Darren Lehmann and Michael Bevan for instance, but also quite a lot who have not done the business. They had three overseas players for shortish periods of time in 2017, none of whom really distinguished themselves and without doubt proved the point that short term signings are a complete waste of time. I appreciate the difficulty in finding players who can commit to a whole season with the current crowded international programme but that is what is needed.

The next problem has been the loss of form by all the top order batsman. Only Gary Ballance, in the first half of the season, scored a large number of runs until his season was blighted by injury and international uncertainty. Most worrying for many people has been the loss of form of opening batsman Alex Lees, who looked a certainty for England honours two or three years ago. Who could ever forget his magnificent 275 not out against Derbyshire at Chesterfield in 2013?

Lees has tried to find his form in the second team and I saw him score a double century against Durham seconds at Riverside, but even there he didn't really seem to have regained his old fluency and continued to struggle in the first team, even going down the order to number three. Hopefully both he and Adam Lyth can regain their previous high standards next season. Jack Leaning is another who needs to find more consistency in championship cricket as he too has plenty of ability.

Now for the plus points and there were quite a few. The obvious choice is Ben Coad, who had a remarkable season and made a real breakthrough at senior level, after not many outstanding performances with the seconds. However what I like about him is his ability to bowl straight, the old Brian Statham theory 'you miss, I hit'.

The other player to impress me was Harry Brook, the young opening batsman, for both the Second Eleven and the Academy side. Runs a plenty in the first half of the season brought him promotion not only to the first team but to captain the England Under 19s. Then the runs dried up and he had a poor spell of form towards the end. He is a class player with an excellent temperament and I am sure he will come back strongly.

The Yorkshire Academy side had a good season in the Yorkshire Premier League North and only just missed out on the league title. Obviously not all of the players will make the grade at first class level but there are some both past and present who could still make it and I thought both Wainman, an opening bowler, and Thompson, an all rounder, deserved a first team chance last season.

Of course the biggest problem facing Yorkshire cricket, reflected on a regular basis by readers' letters in the Yorkshire Post is the continual absence of their England players. This will continue until the people running county cricket stand up for themselves and their members to emphasise that county cricket is not just there to provide Test players but is a treasured and valued competition in it's own right which should be marketed and promoted properly not just left to rot. The star players should be allowed to play for the county sides that produced them and the fixture programme should be planned accordingly instead of giving precedence to the money machine which is T20.

Brian Sellers was a man of forthright opinions and colourful language. One can only imagine what he would have said if his band of international players of the thirties or sixties had been taken away for the whole season.

County cricket's future is obviously very much in the balance but as long as it continues Yorkshire will produce good players. If only we could see them playing for the county rather than just for England. County members, most of whom like me belong to an older generation, are being written off by the money men now running the game. We must do all we can to stop them ruining what has always been an important part of the British way of life.

Arthington see off the season in style

Posted by Tony Hutton

The cricket festival at Arthington cricket club in Wharfedale, West Yorkshire has prolonged the season into October for the last twenty nine years. Unfortunately, the usually good weather deserted them this year and a record number of four of the eight scheduled games were called off due to rain.
Again an unfortunate clash with Yorkshire league cricket's semi finals and final at Headingley meant that few people attended the two games on 23/24 September.

Cricket in October at Arthington.

However for the final weekend 7/8 October both games were completed and both finished with victories for the home side to crown a season when both first and second elevens had achieved promotion from their respective divisions of the Nidderdale League. Of course when the festival started back in 1989 Arthington were still playing friendly cricket, which is what the festival is all about with opponents mainly from the ranks of the few teams still playing this type of game outside the league structure.

Saturday's game against Cambridge Road Methodists resulted in a fairly comfortable home victory with help of a guest player James Van der Merwe, from South Africa, who has been plying his trade with East Leeds CC in the lower reaches of the Bradford League. He took four wickets with his spin bowling as the visitors were dismissed for 113 and then scored a quick fire 50 to help the home side to a four wicket victory. The weather was dry, but cloudy, and the cold wind sent a few of the rather smallish crowd home early.

Wherever two or three are gathered together at any cricket ground in England they will alway stand in front of the scoreboard!

Sunday was a much better day, no wind for once, and even glimpses of blue sky in the distance but it never really arrived at the ground. A bigger crowd, if you could call it that, of regulars for this last farewell to the season appeared, including a visitor from Surrey, one from Teeside and two from the wrong side of the Pennines even. The visitors today were St Georges Church, who play their matches on the nearby attractive ground of Harewood House.

Despite their recent amazing victory over Cookridge Hospital when St Georges took the last eight wickets for just one run, including four clean bowled with the last four balls, they could not reproduce that form today.

St Georges could only make 104 with the lower order collapsing against the spin twins Geoff Barker and Andy Stoddart with 4-7 and 2-7. As ever though the two stars of the show were the two over eighties players Dennis Nash, who of course opened the bowling, and wicker keeper Martin Binks, who got two stumpings and thought he should have had three!

The two famous Arthington veterans - Dennis Nash and Martin Binks.

Barker lets one go through outside offstump.

After an early scare when opening bowler O'Sullivan reduced the home side to 5-3 and narrowly failed to get a fourth with his hat-trick ball, Arthington were guided to victory by the ever dependable Geoffrey Barker, with his trademark forward defensive stroke to the fore and a more aggressive 50 from first team wicket keeper, Andy Dowson which took them home with overs to spare.

Geoff Barker's trademark forward defensive while Andy Stoddart stands on one leg.

So as the evening began to get somewhat chilly just after five o'clock the game and the season came to an end. The players and spectators said their farewells, with good wishes to 'winter well' and some of us will no doubt reconvene as early as March for the beginning of next season. Although well before that we have the annual Boxing Day game at North Leeds CC to look forward to.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Good in parts

posted by John Winn

With my only chance of seeing anymore cricket this season hanging on the prospects for this weekend's two matches at Arthington it is an appropriate  time to reflect on the last six months for it is that long since I, for the first time, saw cricket in March. The occasion was not an auspicious one, Loughborough University B v Notts II, an occasion notable not so much for the standard of the cricket but more for the plethora of coaches in attendance. But it was cricket on a new ground and in the afternoon the sun came out and watching was not an unpleasant experience and in a season where there have been relatively few highlights it just about qualifies for that status.

If we get the good bits out of the way first then my first test cricket at Lord's on a lovely day in July and the long journey to Swansea to a ground where I had not seen cricket before and where I was blessed with warm sunshine, good company and a splendid century from the evergreen Paul Collingwood, stand out.Those two aside there has not been that much to celebrate on the county scene and I think my whole outlook on the season has been tarnished by a sense of injustice about the harshness of the punishment meted out by the ECB a year ago to Durham. Relegation and a 48 point deduction still stokes fires of bitterness inside me, not helped by Hampshire escaping relegation on the last afternoon of the season by the skin of their teeth.

Watching Yorkshire's late season collapse has not helped matters and as Tony has said enough is probably enough in terms of comments on events since the win at Taunton in June, although I suspect inquests will go on over a pint with my regular travelling companions, two Johns and an Arthur, deep into the winter.

On the club cricket scene things are a little brighter for I have visited over 25 new grounds stretching from Lands in the north to Ackworth in the south and from Mytholmroyd in the west to Whitby in the east. The last of which completed the set of NYSD grounds. Other memorable days were spent at  Booth where cricket, weather and scenery combined to paint a perfect picture and Almondbury Wesleyans where the tea lady had the presence of mind to serve hot soup on a cold April day. My local club Ouseburn were champions of the Nidderdale
League for the second successive year and giving almost equal pleasure,
they were able to turn out three teams on the third Saturday in September.

Looking ahead to next year the 153 club is back on the agenda, my pursuit of seeing every county play every other county in championship cricket, for Warwickshire's relegation means they will play Leicestershire and Gloucestershire, two of the four games needed to reach my target. Until the last few days of the season it looked like I might be able to complete the whole project for had Somerset finished in the bottom two then all four games would have been on offer, but such things are not within my behest to arrange and I will settle for what Warwickshire's poor form has given me. Of course it has been pointed out to me that under the present system there is no guarantee that second division teams play each other twice so I may only get one crack at it and even here the weather may intervene. I await the fixtures with interest.

Finally I promised in my last posting that I would throw some light on this photograph. It dates back to the 1920s and it was taken at the private ground of HM Martineau at Blind Lane, Holyport in Berkshire. Cricket was played here as far back as 1886 and in the 1920s the Australian, New Zealand and West Indian tourists played matches here, usually at a very early stage in their tour. The man looking into the heavens for the coin is thought to be the Australian captain HL Collins and their opponents on 28th and 29th April 1926 were Minor Counties. If correct then the opposing skipper is the famous Norfolk cricketer and Conservative MP, Michael Falcoln. Play was washed out on the first day and the match was drawn. In other years it was customary for the tourists to play against Hubert Martineau's XI. Looking at the card for the match against New Zealand in 1927 it is clear that Martineau was not frightened to put himself in the firing line for in a Kiwi total of 586 he has 1 for 125 off 22 overs. Not so much a case of whose bat is it but whose ground is it?

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Weather threatens end of season games

Posted by Tony Hutton

October is here and the cricket season has almost run it's controversial course. John has already described the eventful end to the county season, although it appears that Middlesex are still appealing against their relegation due to points lost in the 'bow and arrow' game at the Oval. The less said about the drinking culture of some England players and the abysmal end to Yorkshire's season the better.

Last week's club games at Headingley did mean an unfortunate clash with an Arthington weekend where as far as I know cricket was played on both days at the delightful Wharfedale ground. Unfortunately the two previous Sunday's were rained off and the same has happened this weekend when both games are victims to the weather.

However, just up the road from Arthington yesterday a game was actually in progress at Harewood House where St George's Church were playing Cookridge Hospital in a 35 overs per side game.
Getting the short distance there proved rather an obstacle course as a serious road accident had taken place at the junction with the Leeds/Harrogate Road and the police were directing traffic. In addition a major event had taken place in the grounds of Harewood during the morning and a huge queue of cars was trying to leave.

The hardy spectators at Harewood House.

Having managed to arrive at the ground it was a relief to find a game in progress in front of a handful of hardy spectators, with the trees already showing their autumn colours. Nothing spectacular took place but it was just pleasant to sit and watch a friendly game of cricket, with nothing at stake, taking place.

Autumnal colours at Harewood.

The final cricket at Arthington is scheduled for next weekend 7/8th October and we can only hope that the weather will relent, as it usually does, for this traditional end to the season.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Houdini Hampshire survive again

posted by John Winn

So when the music stopped it was Middlesex who were left without a seat at the first division table next season. From champions yesterday they were rolled over in fairly short time at Taunton and then endured a five hour wait while the wooden spoonists tried to bowl out Hampshire. Shortly after lunch, when Hampshire lost three quick wickets, their hopes of survival must have been raised but obdurate defence from Vince and Dawson saw Hants almost to safety, safety ensured by Holland and Berg. By 5:
30 Middlesex knew they could look forward to trips to Derby, Chester le Street and Grace Road next year and could rue even more the loss of two points for a slow over rate in the match abandoned when Kennington's answer to William Tell decided to take a hand.

Not only Middlesex could look back and lament that the season had been at the mercy of such narrow margins. Yorkshire who sighed with relief as early as Monday, a sigh so deep it left them without the breath to stand up to the Essex attack on Wednesday afternoon , can look back more than three months to June and their victory by three runs over Somerset, three months in which they have won just one championship match, last week's nerve jangler against Warwickshire. On that Monday afternoon Ballance's persistence with Lyth's spin finally paid off when Jamie Overton miscued to Carver at mid wicket and the white rose men trousered 16 points. If Overton had middled that delivery Yorkshire would have lost and finished the season with 132 points thus keeping the bears company in the bottom two.

Such has been the competition to avoid relegation in the last month that all the sides involved, and third placed Surrey were not safe until last week, could probably point to some turning point, inclement weather, a bad lbw decision, five penalty points for the ball hitting the helmet,etc etc which might have gone for or against them and when two points cover four teams such events can make or mar a season. Thus Hampshire survive again, this year by two points, last year by courtesy of the ECB and in 2105 again by two points. It is nine years since they finished above sixth in Division 1.

In the second division Notts, another 'tomb raider' club, finally overcome their jitters thanks to a partnership between the retiring Chris Read and Root the younger and left Northants in third place. Leicestershire held on to the wooden spoon and Durham handicapped by a 48 point deduction could do little better. The season at The Riverside has seen its share of exciting finishes and the loss of Coughlin, Onions and Jennings has been to some extent offset by the emergence of Steel at the top of the order and in the last few weeks signs that Clark might be fulfilling his potential. The return of Will Smith, who has been kept out of the Hampshire side by Kolpaks, has amongst a small number of members I have canvassed received a lukewarm reception.

My season is not quite over but a weekend away rules out my attendance at Arthington until Saturday week at the earliest so my next posting will probably be an appropriate time to sum up my season's watching.

Dashing off to Teesdale, will caption this photo on return.