Hampshire Cricket History


Living in the Past
August 25, 2016, 7:05 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

It’s Jethro Tull. I saw them more than once but most notably at a Hyde Park free concert in beautiful Saturday afternoon sunshine back in 1968. The full bill also included Roy Harper (“When an Old Cricketer leaves the Crease”), the early, elfin, acoustic Tyrannosaurus Rex and top-of-the-bill Pink Floyd. I was 18 and it was rather wonderful. This weekend I’ll be at the huge Victorious Festival on Southsea Common – even taking the skiffle guys down for a play. Festivals always rekindle something of the latent hippy inside me, I’m looking forward to it.

I’ve lived in the past all my life. Not principally with cricket history but through my teaching career in art and popular culture. I’ve taught about art history, movies, music etc but there was always a vital point for me – that my engagement with the past had to connect with and illuminate the present. At its best, it contributes to the development of the present into the future. In terms of cricket, that was the reason I wrote Forever Changes, but for someone like me to publish something like that is merely pissing into the wind. They will do what they want with not a care.

At the festival this weekend, I’ll connect in my imagination with all those other festivals and large outdoor gigs I’ve done over the decades. When I go to art galleries I can find connections between the work of the past and the present. It gives me ideas for the future. In cricket over the past two years I have found that increasingly hard to do. I look at the situation with Tom Alsop and I can connect it historically with the way Hampshire often treat their own young cricketers – but that’s too negative to live with for too long.

It leaves me feeling (literally) alienated – like an alien, wandering around a ground and club that increasingly I don’t care about. I’m not even listening to the commentaries any more. Will they stay up? For the first time in my life it doesn’t seem to matter.

Exactly fifty years ago this week I went to the US Ground in Pompey and saw Trevor Jesty’s debut – as an opening bowler. He played alongside David Turner who had made his debut in the previous game and Richard Gilliat who joined us that season. Richard Lewis was also on the staff and playing in the 2nd XI, like Jesty and Turner a teenager. Seven years later, under Gilliat’s captaincy, they were County Champions. We’ve never managed that since.

In my imagination, I can still connect with those days – not by any means all perfect – but what I’m increasingly struggling to do is to connect them with what I encounter today. It’s not like music, art, cinema; it’s almost as if the connecting thread has been broken.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe it comes to most people, although as I say, it seems to be just cricket for me. At the start of the season I told the Committee and club that this would be my last 12 months as Archivist. I think I’ve done what I could, I’ve covered all the walls in the Atrium and elsewhere and, with Stephen and Richard, sorted out the library and archive space. There isn’t much left to do although I said I would stay as long as the next AGM if necessary.

I’ve not gone public beyond that small group before now, but I’m doing it for two reasons.

  1. To put my grumpiness on this delightful Blog in some kind of broader context
  2. To point out that right now we have no idea what happens next. When my predecessor and pal Neil Jenkinson retired some years back, I simply took over. But Stephen (Kent) and Richard (Yorkshire) are miles away. Fancy a job?
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15 Comments so far
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Wow, brilliant if sadish piece. And I get it. Close to where I am.

Comment by Paul

It will be shame if your disillusionment leads you to give up entirely. Things do change and there is little we can do about it, but some things are cyclic in nature.
I don’t have the investment of being a member (less still an archivist) so it is easier to accept things from a distance.
And I do think this a great blog.

Comment by Dave Pople

Sympathise Dave. Trends in cricket are not looking good at the moment. Please keep the blog if you can though – always an interesting read and much appreciated

Comment by Keith Fray

No reason to stop the Blog – it’s a delight, you guys are a delight.

Comment by pompeypop

It’s not just you.

You’ve before made the point that it is PROFESSIONAL cricket that is the problem.

And I expect the problem is somewhat worse at Hampshire than many other counties. Test match, ODI status has come at a price some find too high.

Perhaps as a free agent the full story of how we went from owners of Northlands Road to tenants of Eastleigh Borough council can be told?!

Off topic, perhaps, two other recent things that may be of interest:

http://www.espncricinfo.com/county-cricket-2016/content/story/1048211.html

https://5addedminutes.com/2016/08/17/why-james-vince-failed/

Comment by Jeremy

The piece about why Vince failed is interesting. A high percentage of boundaries goes with one day cricket while looking to score more safe singles with less frequent boundaries goes with first class and test cricket. I have said before that I feel a player should be looking at becoming a test player by age 20 or 21 (look at Cook and Root). In Vince’s case, by coming in at 25 he has had a large quantity of fairly successful one day cricket and got into the way of playing cover drives in tests that in one day cricket will be safe in general as there are fewer slips to catch the edges. Looking at players currently doing well I would look to take Haseem Hameed ( hope I got that right) the young Lancashire opener who is at the right age at nearly 20 on the winter tours.

Comment by Bob Murrell

Dave,

I have avidly followed your fantastic blog and have been full of admiration for the energy you put into it. I normally find that I am fully in accord with your sentiments, as I too am disillusioned with a marginalised and shrinking County Championship and a club where we are effectively season ticket holders rather than members.

However, as a Hampshire member in my 44th year (yes, 1973 was the first!), I am not ready to give up yet, and would urge you to also persevere.

I am sure someone will take over as archivist, but please keep this blog going!

Best wishes and hoping you recover your enthusiasm for the game.

Comment by Godfrey Stowe

Thought provoking piece.

On golden memories of times past and growing up with sporting heroes, lucky are we who have them…somebody might have been supporting Derbyshire in the Pompey cricket week in 1973!!

On the disconnect: in the foreign country also known as the 1970s I can remember mature members commenting with more than two grains of disdain about the “Sunday slosh”, which “might be entertainment”, but “wasn’t cricket”. T20, plus ca change, maybe; attending the Oval game this season perhaps 1 spectator in 20 by the hospitality were giving the game much, if any, attention, which created a rather odd feel to proceedings.

Comment by StephenFH

Somehow, in my 70’s now and with a deep fondness for the 4-day game and the county, I have come to terms with the modern white ball game which can provide thrilling cricket and some marvellous exponents. However one feature which really grates with me is the use of the loud and intrusive music which has now seemingly been extended to play between deliveries rather than originally between overs and wickets. Its also music of the most wretched variety (grunge, house??) which yesterday at the ODI in particular seemed particularly unsuited to the predominantly middle-aged crowed. Does anyone else feel this great antipathy towards this? (Dave, as a music lover how do you feel about this?)

Comment by Peter Jeffs

The use of music in itself is not unacceptable. What is wrong is the selection, timing and volume. Why is it necessary to prevent any conversation before a game has started by blasting our eardrums to unconsciousness? Blasting the audience between balls seems to me to be an unnecessary consumption of electricity, and the selection of music seems to be totally arbitrary. How about “Walk On By” for a wicket; “You’ll never walk alone” for a ton, and a Donald song for a Duck! I am sure that Dave can come up with many suitable songs to suit all aspects of the game.

As a last point, please keep the music for the circus variety of cricket only, it has no place in limited over cricket, and, heaven forbid, an intrusion into 4 and 5 day cricket.

Comment by John West

If you think its loud in the stand, Peter, try sitting pitch side.

I was providing pictures for The News in Pompey and made the mistake of sitting about 15 – 20 feet from one of the speakers at the pavilion end.

At times you could barely hear yourself think. Another of the club’s photographers was sitting five feet from me and we had to shout at each other to make ourselves heard.

Add in some very excitable Pakistan supporters who thought their chances of getting a selfie would increase the louder they shouted at the players, it all added up to a day that made you appreciate the quieter moments in life.

Or may be I’m just getting old.

Comment by neil m

A great read Dave. As I have mentioned before I grew up watching the mighty Brentford FC hover between the old Divisions 3&4. In truth we were largely rubbish but they were our local club and we got to know, appreciate and support the players who tended to remain at the club for many seasons.

Gradually that changed and it became rare for a player to stay for more than a season or two. Endless players arrived on loan and disappeared almost as soon as they arrived and I found myself supporting the club’s history rather than the club as it was at the time so I stopped going. In recent years Brentford have had a rise in fortune and although I still follow the results I haven’t been tempted back.

Sadly I am beginning to feel the same about Hampshire. I’m sure a lot of it is to do with my age but I don’t think it is entirely me.

I now watch local non-league football which I enjoy and which I feel much more of an affinity with than the full-time professional game. Perhaps the way forward for me with cricket is to watch a decent level of club cricket.

Sorry to ramble on but Dave’s piece set me thinking.

(And I agree with others that this blog is first-class!).

Comment by James

Great piece, Dave, and so sorry you are retiring from the Archivist’s role. You will be missed by many people, not least myself.

Living miles away, as I do, from Southampton your blog keeps me up to date with all the latest news and is much appreciated. Also , the work you have done in ‘decorating’ the Atrium is fantastic and helps to remind us all of ‘the good old days’.

“Oh won’t you, please, stay a little bit longer ?”

Comment by Dave Wilson

Dave, I can only add to the previous comments. The blog is excellent so please keep it going. Your reference to Jethro Tull was appreciated as they are one of my favourite bands. Particularly, the album Stand Up. Over 40 years old and I still listen to it regularly. Anyway, I’m sorry you are giving up the archivist role but all good things come to an end, I guess. If I had more time I might be tempted to take it on but sadly I haven’t. Your disillusionment with Hampshire and cricket as a whole is understandable but please don’t give up completely, The future may not be going the way you and I would like but we ain’t going to stop it so I guess we must live with it. I can’t see a day when I won’t support Hampshire but the number of days at The Ageas Bowl will lessen over the coming years which will please my wife. I will not be supporting any franchise team whether they play at The Bowl or anywhere else. Keep up the good work.

Comment by Tigger

Dave …..first, a big ‘thank you’ for sharing news, insights and opinions on Hampshire cricket – and the modern cricket scene in general – over several seasons through your Pompey Pop blog. Your contribution to the Club as archivist is immeasurable, your knowledge in, and passion for several of the performing arts is exceptional, and your multi-skilled performances as lecturer and entertaining speaker bring the past to life and give hope for the future…..WOW! I have just replayed ‘Here Come The 60s’ on UTube (popular music).

As with your many friends I agree that in popular music, art, films, fashion (love your style as a hippy) – and tennis – we are able to follow the connecting threads through the inevitable social, technical and structural changes since the early 1950s yet, sadly, now begin to acknowledge that in cricket, ‘the connecting threads have been broken.’

‘Maybe it’s just me,’ you write. No Dave, many a cricket lover’s heart is breaking; my own is healing because I ‘let go’ last year.

On a positive ‘note’ I invite you join me in singing along with Barbra …. ‘Someday…. somewhere……………………….’ that is, unless you are hoarse from singing and having fun at Pompey’s ‘Victorious Festival.’

Hoping that you will keep-on-a-bloggin’….

Cheers from the Punchy One.

Comment by Alan Rayment




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