Hampshire Cricket History

August 31, 2015, 7:26 pm
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Many thanks to Ian for spotting this online piece (link below) about the ECB meetings over the next two days and the future of county cricket. It appears that the pressure from members through the counties will ward off the threat to the Championship. If so, that’s very good news, for now at least.

The piece has a ‘sting in the tail’, commenting, “the meetings this week follows pleas from professional cricketers last week for a reduction in county cricket. Once again, those calls look set to fall on deaf ears” – nonetheless there are two suggestions in the piece to cut games: (1) the ditching of early season University matches and (2) a reduction in 50 overs matches

There are clearly periods in the season when the schedule is bonkers – for supporters but particularly for players – and maybe the suggestion to focus more T20 on the August school holidays will help that too. But tomorrow Hampshire’s cricketers start their first Championship match for three weeks. During that time they have played just five one-day matches and the Hampshire teams have included some/all of Wood, Briggs, Arafat and Shah who aren’t involved tomorrow – indeed only Briggs might play again this year. They now have four more weeks with one Championship match per week. I wish them well, but I wonder whether they will be so vocal in informing us that through the last seven weeks of the season they did not play too much cricket?


Start the Car
August 31, 2015, 1:44 pm
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James Vince made the journey from Birmingham to Cardiff for England’s T20 match but they’ve just announced the team and he’s not playing, so he may as well start for Durham. He set the domestic record for runs in a T20 season and in context, played the outstanding Finals Day innings on Saturday, so if England won’t pick him now will they ever?

Hampshire are taking 14 to Durham including a couple of Ryans who may get added to the Players’ Board – interesting selection challenge. Hampshire have used 21 players already this season – 19 in the Championship alone.

Very Little Chance
August 31, 2015, 10:17 am
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Bob Elliott has posted a Comment alerting me to a long article in today’s Daily Telegraph by Scyld Berry which identifies how difficult it is for inner city kids to make the grade in English first-class cricket. As Bob notes, I have mentioned this before, indeed it is a pet theme of mine.

This is to a large extent because I’m wholly an inner city bloke, always was, still am, probably always will be. I did have five years teaching in suburban Portchester but otherwise employed always in Portsmouth or London, post-school studies in Portsmouth and Southampton and as a musician I’ve worked in pretty well every large English city. I think I may be the only person with a formal involvement in the running of any aspect of Hampshire Cricket who lives in a city. It leaves me very conscious of the failure to engage most inner-city kids in cricket.

There are kids from Portsmouth who play cricket but if you hear about them at the Academy/2nd XI they are almost certainly from Portsmouth Grammar School. Since I went there myself (albeit pre-Independent status) I’ve no problem with that, I’d just like all the other kids to get that chance. I’ve noted before that the last state school educated boy from Portsmouth to ‘make it’ with Hampshire was Neil McCorkell, although Gosport/Fareham produced Wassell, Jesty and Kenway. If you look at the final Southern League tables today you’ll see in 2016 once again not a team from Portsmouth or Southampton will be in the top division.

My concern is not just that it’s such a waste of cricketing talent but that these kids aren’t even growing to love and support the game. I was in a crowd of 100,000 on Southsea Common over the weekend with loads of kids and teenagers but I doubt whether any of them were doing what I was – checking the T20 scores.

As the Daily Telegraph headline proclaims cricket is “a game now in danger of shrinking into a middle class niche”. Blimey! If even the Daily Telegraph sees this as an issue of ‘class” it must be serious – and it is. The statistics Berry reveals are very sad and the only surprise to me is that he identifies “too many cold spots, notably cities in the Midlands and north of England” adding that not one Test cricketer has been born in Wolverhampton. But Woverhampton isn’t even in a first-class county. Not one Test cricketer has been born in Portsmouth either, and while Chris Tremlett was ‘born’ in Southampton, that’s because the hospital was there. Chris grew up in Chandlers Ford and had a certain advantage through family connections when it came to an interest in cricket. Otherwise AJL Hill (born in Bassett in 1871) and Shaun Udal in the north of the county is the sum total from Hampshire with a couple of ‘outsiders’ (Palmer, Roope and an Aussie from the New Forest) and that’s your lot.

But there aren’t even city kids on the county staff anymore. We have a good system of developing young cricketers but where do they come from? Crane – public school in Sussex, McManus & Barber – Dorset, Vince & Dawson – Wiltshire, Griffiths & Briggs – the IOW …

There is one initiative that has the potential to change all this, at least to some extent and that’s Cage Cricket which was designed in Portsmouth quite deliberately for inner city kids with no access to grass, white clothes etc. To date, the ECB has shown a marked reluctance to support it, showing a preference for Chance to Shine. But why does there need to be a competition if there are two schemes both designed to engage more kids in cricket? Maybe the ECB rather likes the idea of cricket as a “middle class niche”. If so, I’m intrigued to read that Jeremy Corbyn is said to like cricket.

On the Run
August 29, 2015, 9:38 pm
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In recent years Hampshire have been a pretty good limited overs side. I looked back at other teams that enjoyed a run of trophies in any of the limited overs competitions, in a reasonably short space of time, and found six teams with more trophies and/or a shorter time span than Hampshire’s recent run – and bearing in mind that some good performances by them over the past three seasons have not yielded a single trophy.

It’s interesting that neither Yorkshire nor Surrey get a mention (nor Derbyshire, Durham, Glamorgan or Northants). It is worth adding that a number of sides listed here were also winning the Championship around the same time.

GLOUCESTERSHIRE: 1999 (2), 2000 (3), 2003, 2004 – Seven trophies in six seasons

KENT: 1972, 1973 (2), 1974, 1976 (2), 1978, – Seven trophies in seven seasons

LANCASHIRE: 1969, 1970 (2), 1971, 1972, 1975 – Six trophies in seven seasons

WARWICKSHIRE: 1989, 1993, 1994 (2) 1995, 1997 – Six trophies in nine seasons

SOMERSET: 1979 (2), 1981, 1982, 1983 – Five trophies in five seasons

ESSEX: 1979, 1981, 1984, 1985 (2) – Five trophies in seven seasons

HAMPSHIRE: 2005, 2009, 2010, 2012 (2) – Five trophies in eight seasons

MIDDLESEX: 1980, 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988 – Five trophies in nine seasons

SUSSEX: 2006, 2008, 2009 (2) – Four trophies in four seasons

LEICESTERSHIRE: 1972, 1974, 1975, 1977 – Four trophies in six seasons

HAMPSHIRE: 1986, 1988, 1991, 1992 – Four Trophies in seven seasons

WORCESTERSHIRE: 1987, 1988, 1991, 1994 – Four trophies in eight seasons

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE: 1987, 1989, 1991 – Three trophies in five seasons

Record Breaking Day
August 29, 2015, 6:54 pm
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James Vince finished the T20 season with highest aggregate ever in English T20.

Hampshire’s score v Lancashire was the lowest ever on T20 Finals Day, fewer then Somerset’s v Hampshire.

PS: Thanks for responses pointing out lower scores. I did a dumb thing and paid attention to Sky without checking (I can’t check everything so well done out there!)

As far as I can tell, it means that 115 yesterday was the lowest Finals Day score by a side in a scheduled 20 over innings that went into the 20th over – almost certainly adding, under a Conservative Government, when Chelsea lost at home and the weather was better up north than down south.

Surrey were indeed dismissed for 92 in 13.3 overs in 2013 but it was in a Final restricted to 18 overs because of rain (and anyway it was a Coalition Government)

We were dismissed for 101 last year but again (etc)

OK – enough of T20 which is a nasty little thing anyway, somewhat resembling Gollum. Back to the proper stuff and my prediction that Hampshire are on a winning streak which will pull them clear of relegation. Now I’m off to the seafront again, to check out some Super Furry Animals (???) and a bloke singing “Waterloo Sunset” (I hope)

Rapped Up Early
August 29, 2015, 4:36 pm
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Isiah Dreads

During Hampshire’s innings I was watching teenage rapper Isiah Dreads on Southsea Common (above) – it seems to me I got the best of the deal. (Isiah was ok – later saw Laura Mvula who was terrific)

Back in 2008 when we first hosted the T20, I realised I’d never want to go to one involving Hampshire unless it was at home – too much possible pain, far worse than the prospect of a Lord’s Final defeat. Nonetheless, 2010 was OK – and highly entertaining – but two years ago I succumbed to a kind invite from the club and watched us lose the semi final at Edgbaston. At least it didn’t rain today but I’m guessing I’d have hated the Hampshire batting (Vince notably excepted). Is that right? It seems the slower bowlers did their best but never had a hope. What do you guys think?

It’s been raining in Southsea this afternoon so I’ve taken a break and I’m at home with a cup of tea. I’m very glad I’m not driving back from Birmingham!

I’m beginning to wonder …
August 29, 2015, 9:36 am
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whether anyone in first-class cricket is capable of a sensible sentence.

On the BBC website today, there are previews of the four teams and two fixtures. After KDJ assesses Hampshire’s record and prospects, Stephen Moore, the former Lancashire batsman, talks about his ex-county, opening with the following sentence

“Much has been said over the last few years of Lancashire being the most consistent T20 side in county cricket …”

Really Stephen? Have your conversations been limited to the Old Trafford Pavilion for a few months?

Are we talking about the same Lancashire, who lost Finals in 2014 and 2005 and have never actually won the competition – and incidentally haven’t won a single limited overs trophy of any kind in the 21st century?

Now they might well win today and then perhaps people might justifiably begin to discuss such things but this is their third Finals day in the past six, while for Hampshire it’s six out of six with two wins.

“Most consistent?”


A Cheerful Occasion
August 28, 2015, 9:44 pm
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I’ve been down to Portsmouth Cricket Club on Southsea seafront this evening to launch an exhibition I’ve produced of the club’s history and of cricket history in Portsmouth – a series of panels on the wall of their pavilion. There were what seemed like hundreds (probably many tens) of kids – boys and girls – enjoying their weekly training session, lots of mums & dads, a barbecue, the bar open of course and then a race night. It was quite delightful and no one seemed to be too tired! In the photo I’m with the PCC captain David Henderson – he’s Jon Ayling’s brother-in-law and they play their final game tomorrow having already clinched promotion. LOVELY!

(incidentally, who’s that famous face on that panel behind us?)

Even more exhaustion
August 28, 2015, 9:31 am
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I assumed that Hampshire’s players were pleased to be at T20 Finals Day but I’m not so sure now. This is taken from today’s BBC website, attributed to Dale Benkenstein

“The last Finals Day I found a real shambles. You can’t leave your bags or any equipment in the changing rooms overnight. There’s all those little things that we know about now, which I think do end up taking quite a bit of energy from you …”

I’ve watched every Lord’s Final Hampshire have played in and a few they haven’t, plus loads of Quarter and Semi Finals as well as two T20 Finals live and all the others on TV. I suddenly and unexpectedly realised this week that I wasn’t greatly bothered (a) about deciding not to go to Bristol and (b) the result, while tomorrow I shall spend the day reliving ‘Woodstock’ on Southsea Common’s Victorious Festival rather than keeping up-to-date with Finals Day.

All this may be merely a temporary disenchantment, although it mirrors rather precisely my big ‘falling out’ with football 30 years ago.

Do They?
August 28, 2015, 9:10 am
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Today’s Cricket Paper carries a number of letters responding to the ECB proposal to cut the number of Championship matches. Broadly they take the same view as everyone who has commented here – DON’T!

However on page 2 they run an article about the PCA Survey with the headline “Players Back Trim to Championship”. The article itself does not make that claim, presumably because they don’t.

The vast majority support a reduction in the amount of cricket played but they favour a reduction in the ‘least important’, the Royal London Cup.

Over 90% express support for the Championship as the one they “most want to win”, and 85% believe that “symmetry” (pretty difficult with 14 games) is more important in the Championship” than the limited overs games.

The PCA conclusions include:

“We must respect the LV= County Championship as our premier domestic competition, and only change it if the prize is a significantly better overall schedule” (my emphases)

“The Royal London Cup is seen as less important and of lower quality than the other competitions”