Hampshire Cricket History

Home & Away
May 1, 2017, 7:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hampshire took the field yesterday with an XI comprising entirely players born – and I guess raised – outside the county. I’m interested to know whether it matters.

I take Jim’s point entirely that Vince, Dawson, Alsop, McManus and Crane came through our junior sides, I’m delighted for them and they seem solidly ‘Hampshire’ to me – I have never expected us to produce 11 top quality county cricketers from within the borders, and we never have.

Neither do I object to players from overseas. Never for one moment was I bothered about great players like Barry Richards, Malcolm Marshall or Roy Marshall, who was there when I first saw Hampshire. But in the Hampshire squad of 1959 there were no fewer than 11 Hampshire-born men who played first-class cricket that year. This season we have seen two, Jimmy Adams, near the end of his career, and Chris Wood, injured again after half-a-game. Beyond them? Brad Taylor maybe, Joe Weatherley on loan at Kent, and on the fringes Ben Duggan (IOW) and Josh McCoy (Portsmouth/Purbrook).

I noticed the British media (broadcast and printed) yesterday was full of the triumph of the apparently delightful Anthony Joshua – I assume had his opponent won there would have been less coverage – and it’s much the same for we ‘English’ when Andy Murray wins a tournament for we “British’, or Lewis Hamilton roars around the track ahead of everyone else. Somehow ‘we’ care don’t we? We identify with ‘our’ guys – just as we did when ‘we’ won all those Olympic medals in sports few of us were ever bothered about before. Next up is the bloke who stops just down the road from me, in the America’s Cup. (I’ve watched it. It’s the worst spectator sport anyone could ever imagine).

But when it drops from national to regional identity it seems to me we don’t care who wears the shirt as long as we are winning (although you will have noticed we didn’t yesterday)

I do care – but is it just another sign that it’s over for me?


3 Comments so far
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Possibly like you Dave, I was brought up in a school where we were shown maps of the world where (it seemed) nearly half of it was pinkish red signifying the extent of the British Empire/Commonwealth – most of whose countries played cricket.
The English counties (Yorkshire excepted) have always had overseas cricketers gracing their ranks – not always superstars like Richards and Greenidge, but players who could earn a living playing the game here – sometimes just playing for the leagues, like Constantine, or Imran Tahir. And they have always been welcomed.
Of Hampshire’s current team, I regard Ervine as truly Hampshire and I hope to view Berg and Abbott that way soon.

Coming from Bournemouth which is no longer Hampshire, I can’t be too precious about accidents of berth, and anyway I go along with Billy Bragg – I’m “Half English” – http://www.songlyrics.com/billy-bragg/england-half-english-lyrics/

Comment by Dave Pople

I like that link Dave and I take your points. I’ll tell you what it is that really troubles me and it’s not to do with us older fans. It isn’t so much (especially in the contemporary world) where someone was born, although I am interested that they might identify somewhat with ‘their’ county – Tim Tremlett, born Somerset, raised Hampshire, is a good example. It is that there is so little obvious engagement for younger people. I grew up knowing that Mike Barnard (Portsmouth FC and Hampshire CCC) went to my school and that other players from say, Southampton were like me & my family in some ways. I knew of Trevor Jesty from Gosport before he played for the county and … (well you get the point, I could go on).

We keep hearing that kids recognise wrestlers (who are not on terrestrial TV) more clearly than Alistair Cook. Why shouldn’t they? Why would they identify with a team called ‘Hampshire’ in a sport they neither play nor see, that has no-one like them playing for it? I hoped that Cage Cricket, created in inner-city Pompey, would help to address that issue and I supported it financially. Sadly the ECB and Hampshire didn’t support it. If cricket becomes a franchised sport with stars bought in for a few weeks that’s fine (honestly, fine). I just think that at that point we should abandon county names for ever – call them the Southern Sloggers and don’t pretend there is any local identification beyond the convenience of a home venue.

Incidentally my point is not to ‘have a go’ at anyone currently playing for Hampshire, but I am very definitely having a go at Hampshire Cricket PLC for doing so little to develop cricketers of quality from within THEIR county. If they protest that they are doing their best, then they are failing badly and in the tough professional world of contemporary cricket, we know where failure leads …

Comment by pompeypop

I always liked a quote I read from Jimmy Cook when he was our coach. He said that where possible he would always give priority to Hampshire born youngsters.

For me I like to believe those playing for my teams, be they cricket, rugby or football, actually care about the team and feel more for them than an employee might feel for his employer in the business world. That’s why I like to see Hampshire born players in our team because the perception is that they will care more about the team. However I’m sure that isn’t always the case and I’m equally sure that those that come to us from outside the county can grow to care as much as anyone as Dave P mentions above with reference to Sean Ervine. (I speak as someone born in Surrey!).

Whereas I would certainly like to see Hampshire Corporate Cricket do more to develop cricketers from inside the county my real preference would be that Hampshire Corporate Cricket stopped trying to destroy well over a hundred years of cricket as we know it because if they carry on as they are our game will cease to exist as a top-level sport for youngsters to play wherever they are born.

Comment by James

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