Hampshire Cricket History

February 10, 2016, 11:08 am
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I’ve written a new book about cricket. I’ve promised myself it’ll be the last one and unlike the others it’s not specifically about Hampshire. I decided to do it last summer and some of you may remember a rather delightful story about a young man called Spencer – if not it’s still on here (26 September 2015).

The book’s full title is Forever Changes: Living with English County Cricket. 

It has two themes:

The many and endless changes in county cricket since I first watched it in 1959 (which was the first season of an experiment with covered pitches). I contrast that with the relatively stability (and perhaps inertia) of the previous 50+ years. I try to chronicle all the changes, acknowledging those that were beneficial but (of course) warning that the county championship faces a real threat these days and is anyway a poorer competition than it once was (few top overseas players, England players, spin bowlers etc)

That over the same period, cricket has shifted from occupying a central role in English culture to becoming a niche activity enjoyed by a declining population, while ignored by the majority. While the first theme is no surprise, this bit I think is relatively unusual, as I explore it through representations of cricket in cinema, literature, television, photographs (and cigarette cards) and even political speeches.

The book will be out by the start of the season. I doubt it will be  a best seller but I decided last year that if ‘they’ were determined to dismantle our beloved Championship further, I would not go quietly. So I’m not.

All profits from the book will go to the charity Cage4All. That reflects another issue in the book, linked to the second point above, which is the serious decline of cricket among young people in the inner cities.


February 10, 2016, 9:26 am
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Liam Dawson is in England’s T20 squad.


He’s a great guy Liam – one of the best – I’m really pleased for him. From Hampshire’s reserves/Div 2 in mid-summer last year to the England squad.

That was then …
February 8, 2016, 8:25 am
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George Best

These days there would be cars parked there and more driving up-and-down the street. But perhaps more importantly would anyone these days ever think of posing a footballer – indeed, perhaps the country’s most famous footballer – in a photo of this kind, playing cricket? 

This is from a book/magazine I found in WH Smith’s called The Golden Age of Football, full of fascinating photos (£6.99). The last photo is pure Hampshire, with the only Pompey-born player to score the winning goal in a Cup Final (at least I think he’s the only one) and he scored it for that other team along the coast …*

Portchester School Football

*Here’s the answer then, Bobby Stokes. In the late 1970s I was teaching art at Portchester School and running a great football team – they did the double this year and because most were Pompey fans and a few followed Saints I asked Bobby to come and present the prizes which he did – and he was delightful! The skipper here is Tim Dix who played cricket for decades at Fareham, to his left in the photo, David Bridger captained South Hants/Portsmouth CC before moving away and Mike Hennessy (2nd left) also played local league cricket. I was cultivating the look for an extra in “Please Sir”.

Coming Home Baby (?)
February 7, 2016, 7:50 pm
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I guess Brad Taylor and Mason Crane will be taking Mel Tormé’s advice after England U-19s lost heavily to Sri Lanka in today’s 50-over Quarter Final.

Taylor at nine played something of a captain’s innings (22) but had figures of 0-24 in 5 overs while Crane scored just five and took 1-35 half way through his sixth over, when Sri Lanka won by six wickets with 14 (+) overs still left.

Shane Watson
February 7, 2016, 11:45 am
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Do you remember last season how he was ‘coming back’ to Hampshire to play? Then he wasn’t. Yesterday he was sold at the IPL auction for only just under a million English pounds. Another former Hampshire batsman went for a third-of-a-million as did Joss Buttler, while South African Chris Morris who apparently cannot get into their ODI side was worth over £700,000.

Interesting to read about sport in the Observer today. There was a rugby photo on the main news front page and the sports section front page had rugby, plus stories about Manchester United’s manager and Liverpool fans’ walkout. Pages 2-5 were England rugby, pages 6-7 other rugby (inc clubs), then pages 8-16 were football. After a report on the major clash between Burnley and Hull we got to a single page (17) on England’s cricket victory over South Africa and the IPL. On the back page there’s a paragraph about England’s women v South Africa (today, etc).

I have a feeling this signifies something about the declining status of cricket as a world sport but I wonder whether it’s mirrored in today’s other ‘papers? Perhaps it’s to do with ODIs as opposed to Test Matches but the comparison between England’s rugby and cricket coverage is stark. Football is less surprising, although sitting here in Portsmouth of course, the less said the better …

World News
February 5, 2016, 9:14 am
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Is it possible to feel optimistic about this story? Maybe – and I wonder whether the film Death of a Gentleman played any part in this outcome


Batsman Wanted? Captain Wanted?
February 4, 2016, 11:07 am
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For Hampshire please:



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