Category Archives: HampshireDays

Darley Dale

Derbyshire v Hampshire 7th September 1975

Sundays in the 1970s  were quiet days, pre the relaxation of the  trading laws and with restrictive licensing that meant that pubs were open for two hours at lunchtime, before closing until the evening. Televised sport in the winter meant Ski Sunday, with its iconic signature tune, and, in the summer months, the Sunday League; a game a week broadcast on the Beeb, commentary by John Arlott and Jim Laker and bat and ball games on the outfield  during the tea interval helping  to breathe new life into the game.

The then 17 counties played each other once with the matches in 1975 being  played at over 50 venues: county grounds, outgrounds and outer outgrounds which that year included the Somerset team of Viv Richards and Ian Botham playing in Torquay,  and Colin Cowdrey and Derek Underwood playing for Kent in Long Eaton. When Hampshire defeated Leicestershire at Bournemouth in the penultimate round of fixtures  they were a win away from claiming the title that year. Interest was sufficiently high among supporters that a coach undertook what was, on the road network of the time, the long haul from Swanage to Darley Dale, ably organised by Joe Goodwin. Joe went on to become the chair of CAMRA, the  body championing consumer choice in beer matters, at the time choice for many was often bitter or mild and the ‘big six’ as they were known were standardising  production. CAMRA today still give an award to local pubs in Joe’s name.

Darley Dale Cricket Club played host to an estimated crowd of 6,000 (more than the population of Darley itself), and the scorecard for the day shows an era when county sides included Test cricketers, supported by decent county pros. Hampshire made 222-8 and won by 70 runs, in large part due to the dominance of their opening pair who put on 90, backed-up by John Rice who took 4-14 in his allotted overs.

In 2018 the T20 Blast is scheduled to be played at 23 venues and with the new city-based competition from 2020  on the horizon (“the future”) the number of venues it uses may well  be down to just 8. The game of cricket, it could be fairly said, has contracted in some important respects since the 1970s, while happily the nation’s choice of beers has widened considerably, and in many cases, gone local.  There are voices in the game suggesting that only the new standardised manufacture should be played in the height of summer in two years time; a message in a bottle, maybe, for cricket goers about the need to exercise their voice.

 

Hampshire at Dean Park

Many thanks to Gary Sanford, who watched much Hampshire cricket at Dean Park for the photographs of the ground that prompted this post. Mark Nicholas in his book A Beautiful Game gives a very readable account of his time playing for the county at the time, as to the spectators who took pleasure watching, they were a fortunate generation who saw high level cricket played on the county’s outgrounds of which Dean Park was the most picturesque.

Those by the sightscreen at the end  of the ground from which the photograph here was taken  were collectively known as the ‘Winton End committee’;  individuals that came from well beyond the county’s borders each year for the Bournemouth week as well as those who lived locally; an annual pilgrimage of sorts for some, the member for Woking declaring ‘this committee meeting open’ each year.

On a wall of the pavilion there was a photograph of WG Grace at the turn of the 20th century when on the ground, and two distinctive bearded members  of the aforementioned committee  certainly did their bit for English heritage over the years; one who became the chair of the Campaign for Real Ale in its formative years, Dean Park a convivial place to organise and also a place of informed opinion on ales.  By the time the photograph above was taken a decade or so later, ‘Tony’ remained a prominent figure, often immersed in the cricket seen through his binoculars, to the side or at times just in front of the sightscreen, a prime spot from which to watch the game. He was also a natural with a cricket bat.

Despite the very English idyll suggested here, the 1980s were in some respects also very different; a decade in which, for example, Viv Anderson and John Barnes were at different times booed by sections of the crowd when they played at Wembley. Sunday League fixtures at Dean Park had spectator numbers increased  by  ‘football supporters’  and when Gordon Greenidge’s wife approached a group of about 20 or so sitting by the sightscreen collecting for her husband’s benefit, her face betrayed genuine uncertainty as to the nature of the response she was about to receive. Courtesies followed and £1 for the raffle tickets was collected about 20 times over.

As for the ‘actual committee’ Gary’s  photos show  the mayor’s tent and other hospitality tents, the forerunner of today’s corporate boxes; seemingly natural homes for some of its members.  Socially very different, the two worlds did intersect on occasion, the expeditions to distant outgrounds organized at the Winton End being instances of such, most memorably perhaps the trip to Darley Dale in 1975; those who went returned a full 24 hours later after traveling on a very different road network.

About the time these photographs were taken those who held offices on the main Hampshire committee  first mooted the prospect of a new ground with the aim of hosting Test Match cricket, and also alleviating the parking problems at the Northlands Road ground in  Southampton. While it would  be fair to say that the county game as a whole has become more centralised over the years, Stephen Chalke’s book, Summer’s Crown, also makes it clear that Hampshire have been the only county that has relocated away from a town or city centre. The wisdom of this decision in relation both to the county’s heritage, and its future, escaped the blogger at the time, the photos here are a reminder that it still does.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uxbridge

Middlesex versus Hampshire, 12-15th September 2017

To every Hove its Arundel, although to Uxbridge in September when it would have been better were it Lord’s was a test of patience. After a blank first day, a start was made on the second morning, although when some rain came the players did not delay in leaving the field, a reminder of times of old, before the arrival of T20 cricket and the changed attitudes that have come with it. To be fair, given the problems with the covers it was probably of some help to the ground staff as well.

In a nice touch after lunch the PA informed that Felix Organ from the Hampshire academy, who had travelled to the ground after James Vince withdrew in the morning, was present in person making his debut for the county; alas a quick deluge followed after a few minutes and whereas at a major ground coverage, drainage and a resumption in an hour or so would have probably followed, that was it for the day. Middlesex 76-3.

The blogger renewed his enthusiasm for spectating on the third day by listening to the BBC commentary, a job well done by them as it usually is. Play resumed on time on the Friday morning, some warm sunshine, free admission and a sprinkling of spectators to witness proceedings. The Middlesex innings closed on 204 and in reply Hampshire made 146,  no-one really batted with any sense of permanence at the crease on either side, although Joe Weatherley, Felix Organ and Ian Holland played attractively for the visitors. A pleasant few hours to watch and a reminder of the charm of watching at outgrounds.

Middlesex play much of the time at Lord’s, ground preparations by the MCC, their outgrounds, prepared  in high summer by club/school; it came to light that they do not have their own ground staff and it seems that more time was lost in this match than might have been as a result. The 2016 winners of the Championship go into the final two rounds of matches with Yorkshire and Somerset their chief rivals to avoid the drop, the tables turned on a year ago and some added spice to the end of season given the way the title was won last year.

Elsewhere,  Essex became  Champions for 2017, a title won at Edgbaston with a team that had seven players born in what might be termed  the historic cricketing county. It was the seventh time in all and their first win since 1992. To use Stephen Chalke’s phrase  they are a grounded club; other counties have mortgaged their futures, gone prospecting for prestige since then, while Essex, it could be said, have played the game.

 

Dean Park, Bournemouth 1978

Hampshire versus Middlesex, 3rd September 1978

Hampshire  won both their county Championships at Dean Park and in 1978 they went on to add the second of their three  Sunday League trophy wins there as well. In the weeks since the match at Cheltenham, covered in another post, they had defeated Kent at Southampton, but  lost at Northampton, so when Gordon Greenidge and Richard Gilliat walked out to bat in front of a large and optimistic crowd, a win and a Somerset loss was needed.

Their opponents that day were a Middlesex team who were (joint) Champions the year before and who boasted an array of Test players in their ranks. The Hampshire opening pair again got off to a fine start, sharing a stand of a 100 against a bowling attack that included Wayne Daniel and Mike Selvey, Phil Edmonds and John Embury, before two wickets fell quickly. Trevor Jesty, who also had a fine match, then made 47 in another century partnership with Gordon Greenidge as the innings finished on 221-4, a good score, if not more than a good score, at that time. For the Middlesex spin twins it was not the easiest of afternoons, although the scorecard did record three catches by Phil Edmonds.

Three years before on the same ground Barry Richards played an outstanding innings in the penultimate game of Hampshire’s successful Sunday campaign that year; of which it could be said that it anticipated rather the way the game would be played in the T20 era. Gordon Greenidge made 122 in this match, and played the sort of innings, 5 sixes…. those that were one bounce into the hedge and those that went straight over it….that was to become more common decades later in a game played with a different attitude, and with different sized bats; markers of two great players.

The Middlesex reply started well with Clive Radley and Norman Featherstone putting on 76, then with Graham Barlow at the crease the second wicket pair reduced the required runs to under 100 in the evening sunshine. The balance of the game swung again as Trevor Jesty, well backed up in the field and helped by a brilliant catch by David Rock,  removed  the visitors’ middle order, and, with the game slipping from them, three run outs followed. The Middlesex innings eventually subsided to 195 all out.

As was the norm for such occasions then a pitch invasion followed, as did quite a wait for the result at Taunton. In 1978 Somerset were on the threshold of their ‘glory years’, the era of Ian Botham, Joel Garner and  Viv Richards, but happily for Hants that day this was to start in 1979, as Somerset fell two runs short.

Richard Gilliat, Hampshire’s Oxford educated captain, was to play in one more Championship fixture after this game. In an interesting interview he gave to Peter Walker on the BBC that season, he spoke of the sense of pursuing a career in sport, or music, taking a  risk in life at least for a time, rather than taking the ‘safe option’ of going to work in a bank or similar;  still an admirable sentiment in 2017 in an otherwise much changed world.

As for Dean Park,  Hampshire played their last home game there 25 years ago, after a decade in which the county began to rather lose its way off the field. As seen now the available  comforts and catering for members, the parking spaces are, of course, of their time. The (partly modernized) ground has since been used by Dorset  and is now owned by a private school. As one of the county game’s past outgrounds it is still a place of happy memories for those who were there when Hampshire were.

 

Clarence Park, Weston-super-Mare

Somerset versus Hampshire,  August 9-11th 1978

While the main interest for Hampshire and their supporters in 1978 was the Sunday League,  three Dean Park regulars in a Hillman Imp also went to Clarence Park for the second day of the  Championship  fixture during the Weston-super-Mare cricket week that year.  A delayed  start, time enough to visit a hostelry, arriving to see David Turner and Trevor Jesty resume the visitors’ innings on 111-2.

Wickets soon fell on  a difficult surface, which brought together the Taylor twins: Mike (MNS, the batsman) and Derek (DJS, the wicketkeeper). There have not been that many twins who have played first class cricket, those playing against one another fewer still, although the Taylor brothers did so on several occasions during the 1970s; including a fixture in 1974 when Mike was caught by his brother and Derek was caught off the bowling of Mike. They played a part in dismissing each other on several other occasions as well, although as it happened not in this match as Mike was caught by Vic Marks off the bowling of Colin Dredge.

Clarence Park  is a municipal ground and the wicket could,  in the language used then, be spiteful.  Four years later a Somerset innings was to last for 85 balls against Middlesex, one of the shortest in the history of the game in England. The Hampshire Handbook for the 1978 season pointedly commented  that it was necessary for Richard Gilliat to take a precautionary visit to hospital after being hit in the face, and the Somerset innings also produced some moments of concern for Peter Roebuck, although he was able to resume.

The highlight of the afternoon for most spectators was, of course, to see Viv Richards bat. The following year he was to captain the West Indies in their successful defence of the World Cup at Lord’s, this particular afternoon he helped solidify the position of the home side by making 49, before being stumped at the wicket by Bob Stephenson. Somerset finished the day on 86-3. Home time, and, as was the way of things then a chance to listen to the reading of the cricket scoreboard on Radio 2 at 7.30.

The Lord’s museum in 2017 has been holding an exhibition on West Indian cricket, of some interest here is the contract letter between Somerset and Viv Richards for the 1981 season in England. The accepted offer was more, but not much more, than a recent graduate might have been paid at that time.

 

The letter also incidentally shows just how careful Somerset, not the most prosperous county then, were with the husbandry of their office stationary. As elsewhere the county has ended the festival weeks at   outgrounds,  Weston (1996), and Bath (2006), developing the county ground to the point where Taunton in 2017 is quite unrecognisable from the way it was when Hampshire visited at the time of the match remembered here.

Of Somerset it seems fair to comment that they have not had the problems of underfunded rebuilding projects, and declining interest in areas where outgrounds were once in use; in respect of T20 Blast attendances in 2017, quite the opposite. As seen on TV of the three grounds used for the T20 matches between England and South Africa this summer, Taunton, both on the ground and  from the air, was showing well.

 

 

Cheltenham

Gloucestershire versus Hampshire 13th August 1978

One week after Portsmouth the 1978 Sunday League fixture list took Hampshire on to Cheltenham, home to the oldest county cricket festival, in their quest for the Sunday title that year. Gloucestershire-Hampshire matches at that time had edge: the previous season Mike Proctor had taken four wickets in five balls in an epic limited overs semi-final at Southampton, which Gloucestershire  won by the margin of seven runs before going on to defeat Kent in the final. A match that in recent interviews Mike Proctor remembers as the high point in his time with his county.

The last day of that season also saw Gloucestershire in a position to win the  Championship at Bristol for the  first time, with Hampshire the visitors. A trio of Dean Park regulars, the blogger included, took advantage of BR’s ‘premier’ slam door service to attend and watch from the top of the Bristol pavilion, which  provided  a fine view from behind the bowler’s arm when pavilion views among several counties did not. Hampshire were set 271 to win, and although Stephen Chalke’s account of the day in his book  Summer’s Crown recalls two drops in the field, the scoreboard  didn’t really show in favour of the home side at any time, and from mid-innings on, it was pretty apparent that Hampshire were heading for a relatively comfortable win. Cricket history would have been different, kinder perhaps, if the two counties had exchanged home wins that year.

 As to the Sunday League fixture in the 1978 Cheltenham Festival, there had been much rain over the  days leading up to it, and the Hampshire Handbook of that year credits the ground staff  that a game was played at all. Certainly more  sawdust than sun in evidence in the snaps taken as Hampshire’s opening partnership of Richard Gilliat and Gordon Greenidge again gave them a good start, seeing off the challenge of the opening spell from Mike Proctor who,  bowling off a restricted run, still finished with the impressive  figures of 2-9 off 7.4 overs.  Trevor Jesty helped give the innings some impetus, but Hampshire declined from a score of 153-3 at one point to be bowled out for a relatively modest looking 169, bearing in mind that the home team’s top order included  Sadiq Mohammad and Zaheer Abbas, as well as Mike Proctor.

 The home team’s response however never really got going that afternoon, Sadiq, Zaheer and Andy Stovold gone by the time the score reached 22; two wickets for the then newcomer, Tim Tremlett, who also finished the match with figures of 2-9, from 5 overs in his case. Mike Proctor and Andrew Hignall joint top scored with 29 as Hampshire ran out comfortable winners in a low scoring match by a margin of 47 runs. An important win for Hampshire in the context of that season, it also remains their only limited overs  victory on the ground.

In recent years the Cheltenham Festival has attracted some 20,000 spectators and in 2017 it was expanded to include two Championship fixtures and three T20 matches. In a decade when books are written about lost cricket grounds and lost cricket festivals, a case of well played.

 

Lord’s

The Lord’s Tour April 2017, Middlesex versus Hampshire T20 Blast,  3rd August 2017

April and the Lord’s Tour to help welcome in the new season. The star exhibit in the museum for England supporters got its due attention, but absent the activity of a match and as seen within the social etiquette of a tour, the pavilion is not overly large inside nor perhaps all that imposing. There are some fine landscapes of the game’s history in the Long Room and portraits of the game’s greats on the steps to the players’ changing rooms, although  the rooms themselves were surprisingly basic: no captain’s place, showers separated by a ‘public’ corridor, the balconies in front bijou plus spaces.  The staff in the museum and the pavilion, it would be fair to say, were a model of courtesy and perhaps Victorian interiors will be become more fashionable again at some point.

The Media Centre being closed the tour finished on the upper level of the Mound Stand and looking across to the Nursery End views were invited on the aesthetics of the Centre. What was once thought of as marmite seemed to be taken in somewhere near neutral by those going round. As for those going round: from the subcontinent, a majority, whose numbers included the most enthusiastic and the importance they placed on the game evident; from Holland, in their own way the most respectful;  Australia, the most informal, thought the Twickenham tour had more to offer and commented on how much more affordable test cricket was back home. There were two from England, the guide included, who after a little prompting found a moment to mention Old Father Time.

The T20 fixture between Middlesex and Hampshire drew a crowd of  over 22,000, Lord’s under lights a stage for a good show. The first half of the home team’s innings  started fairly well, after a modest power play Mason Crane’s first over was expensive and they looked on course for a competitive total at the half way point. However the leg-spinner was to get his man, bowling Stephen Eskinazi for 43, and his remaining three overs were tight ones.  The second half of the innings subsided badly and the final total of 136 was probably something like 25 under par.

A routine win for the visitors followed after a good start by James Vince and Rilee Rossouw, the South African who was hit on the helmut early in his innings, went on to make 60 before being caught on the long-leg boundary.  By the time Lewis McManus and Sean Ervine knocked off the winning runs the result had been settled, barring the very unexpected, for some time.

As for the occasion, an introduction to the game was provided on the scoreboards for those who need to know that it is eleven a side and the other basics. Sweet Caroline and Hi Ho Silver Lining exercised the crowd’s vocal chords, the ScatterBlast scattered t-shirts into the Grandstand and hampers were distributed amongst those who waved at the camera. The Lord’s fox put in an appearance and found that, despite the advert, cricket does have boundaries. In the years of the Sunday League dull fixtures were without much to lighten proceedings, T20 matches come with some cheer on the surface. The evening  was also helped by having the  Lord’s Pavilion in view, whatever  might be made of its interior, it is a beautiful building from the outside, both during the day and at night.

 

 

 

 

 

Burnaby Road, Portsmouth 1978

Hampshire versus Yorkshire, 6th August 1978

The blogger’s first visit to the ground was in 1973, watching from the small stand below the Officers’ Club in the corner. Burnaby Road at the time had a certain robustness to it that came  with the usage of the ground by the military and which, in a way, was symbolised by the ground’s heavy roller; but with it also came the character that made it  different to the other county grounds in Hampshire and many elsewhere.

What it did have in common  of course was a watching experience which for most was at, or close to, ground level.  While a general advantage of ground rebuilds since has been more  elevated seating and the better perspective it gives, there was, and still is, a charm from old style watching at outgrounds, close to the action and easy to perambulate, centrally located and a part of the life of the communities that developed them.

As mentioned in the then and now  post on the Oval, Hampshire were a team in transition in the summer of 1978. When Yorkshire arrived in the first week of August that year Barry Richards and Andy Roberts had departed, having played their last games for the county at a rather wet Leicester, where a Gillette cup (60 over) match ran into a second day, as they sometimes did in those days. Two of the major stars in the history of the game gone, and their captain, Richard Gilliat, was also to retire from the game at the end of season as well. They were however still challenging for the Sunday League, a trophy they had won three years previously in  Derbyshire.

Yorkshire won the toss that Sunday and elected to field in front of a good crowd. Richard Gilliat moved up the order to open with Gordon Greenidge and together they put on 133 for the first wicket, the first in a succession of important opening stands for  Hampshire’s challenge in  the absence of Barry Richards.  Gordon Greenidge went on to make a 116; the Hampshire Handbook for the year recording ten 4’s, and five 6’s in a different era for what are now called maximums. Trevor Jesty towards the end of the innings helped lift the total to 216-4 in a match that the weather restricted to 34 overs; in truth a  pretty formidable score given the way the game was played then.

The late 1970s was a time of West Indian dominance in cricket and this match at Portsmouth bears at least some comparison to the England-West Indies World Cup Final the following year. Viv Richards made a century that day, and together with the help of Collis King, the West Indies totalled 286-9 in their as it was then 60 overs;  in reply Geoff Boycott and Mike Brearley gave England a platform with a century opening partnership, but much pressure was then on the later order batsmen; the England innings finishing on 194 despite the  efforts of Graham Gooch.

At Portsmouth Yorkshire’s reply started well enough, with a second wicket partnership between Geoff Boycott and Bill Athey taking the score to 70, although when it was broken good bowling by Mike Taylor (4-36) and John Rice (3-25) was to restrict the visitors score to 130 as the pressure told on the later order batsmen that day as well. For Hampshire a win to keep their Sunday League trophy ambitions  on track after the defeat at the Oval the previous month.

As to 2017, alas unlike the Oval no fixture to attend at Burnaby Road this year, although perhaps things may change in 2020 or sometime afterwards. In 1978 eight of the sixteen Sunday fixtures Hampshire had were at outgrounds and, broadly speaking, the centralizing tendencies in cricket can be traced back to not all that long after the time of the match remembered here. A change of direction would not be before time.

The Oval

Surrey versus Hampshire  July 16 1978, July 3-6, 2017

To the Oval, about to celebrate staging its 100th test but also a place  where the question posed by CLR James in Beyond a Boundary…what do they know of cricket who only cricket know?…still resonates. The book, published in 1963, came after the appointment of Frank Worrell as West Indian captain and the decades that followed were to become a time of Caribbean dominance in cricket; the  Oval, particularly in the 1970s, a place  where the West Indian team and their supporters  made a statement against a background of prejudice and lives being difficult.

Gordon Greenidge and Barry Richards batting for Hampshire for a final time in  a Sunday League match. Intikab fielding.
Andy Roberts and Richard Gilliat.

West Indian cricketers were also prominent in the domestic English game, Hampshire very much included, although by comparison with the tests, county matches were relatively calm occasions; four days for county cricket then  meant a Championship game  played on a Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, together with a 40-over Sunday League  match. When  Hampshire went to the Oval in July 1978 the Sunday saw Gordon Greenidge and Barry Richards open a Hampshire innings  for the final time in a Sunday League match, putting on 97; with the help of some late hitting by Andy Roberts the innings totalled 238-7 at a time when 240 was a ‘good score’ in 60 over cricket and heading over the horizon in the 40 over format.

John Edrich the non-striker, umpire Tom Spencer. Benches for spectators.

Surrey however, with a team that had John Edrich, Younis and Intikab chased down the runs with a ball to spare, despite economical overs of medium pace bowling by John Rice and Tim Tremlett.  A defeat for Hampshire to get over and also the last  weekend in which Andy Roberts played for the county; although in a message about winning competitions they went on to lift the Sunday League trophy that September, winning four of their five remaining games played, in  large part thanks to Gordon Greenidge who made two centuries, and also perhaps to a  changed dressing room.

The Bedser Stand to the right of the pavilion, a redevelopment is planned after the 2019 World Cup.

In the years since the Oval has been largely rebuilt, albeit that it retains much the same ambience for watching the game. Gas holder number 1 is now seen as iconic and has been granted grade II listed building status.

Cricket, of course, no longer holds the place in West Indian culture that once it did; the Oval in  2017, home to Surrey cricket and to much corporate hospitality and event management, a reflection of the prosperity of London in an era in which, broadly, those born in the decades after WWII, those at the top, have done particularly well. The capacity of the ground is planned to rise to 40,000 in time for the 2023 Ashes test;  an expression of confidence in the future, although if the current era beyond the boundary is now drawing to a close, the effect on English cricket, the Oval, is really anyone’s guess.

George Bailey and Jimmy Adams making runs in the sunshine.
Dominic Sibley lbw Kyle Abbott, Hants confer.
Some lively spells from Fidel Edwards.
Hampshire’s future promise, Mason Crane and Lewis McManus.

In the 2017 fixture it was Surrey, with their home in the global city, that took to the field with ten England qualified players and Hampshire who were the team of internationalists: four England qualified players, three South Africans, two Australians, one Zimbabwean  and one West Indian. The first two days were dominated by Hampshire who posted their 5th highest ever score,  648-7, with centuries from Jimmy Adams, James Vince and George Bailey; but they were also then  left with the difficult task  of bowling out an opponent twice on the same pitch. Rory Burns led Surrey’s response from the front, but Hampshire  stuck at it with Fidel Edwards, now just one of four West Indians on the county circuit, bowling quickly on the third evening and handy support given  by Ian Holland who took five wickets on the final day; although, in truth, the Oval was rather becalmed on the fourth afternoon. A draw on a draw wicket.

From the Oval, the pleasures of a county match in an empty cathedral; in a nice touch on the first day there was  a presentation made to Surrey members who had passed their personal half-centuries of membership; if other counties don’t do something similar in a better world they would. Hampshire stronger than they were a year ago and they should be playing Division 1 again next year; if they were to win four of their remaining five matches this year they could still be on to something.

Watching Hampshire in the Arlott Era

Fifty summers ago the blogger had the good fortune to first watch cricket at Dean Park,  Bournemouth,  where the end of August cricket week festival compared with any that were held around the country, in an era of cricket festivals. Attended by an appreciative audience of locals and tourists, advance notice of the fixtures was given on the windows of the town’s yellow buses, alongside the adverts for the end of pier shows.

Playing Warwickshire, David Brown bowling to David Rock
Alvin Kallicharran batting

Surrounded by pine trees and the back gardens of large houses, the nearby college clock announced the passage of time on the hour, helping to set the rhythm of  days spent watching. A ten minute walk  to the town centre allowed some to head off  to the  pleasure gardens to hear the  visiting  bands play in the afternoon, or on Saturdays play themselves, or go to Dean Court, returning later.

Spectators across the age spectrum watching red ball cricket.

The  PA announced that membership was ‘the life-blood of the county’, encouraging those who weren’t to join. In another age in terms of information, the club office listened to the lunchtime cricket scoreboard on the radio and relayed it to those present.

 

Gordon Greenidge, an innings to win a t40 trophy, 1978.

The game got a new lease of life with one day cricket in the 1960s, the  Sunday League in 1969; a t40 competition with one match a week televised by the BBC; 2pm starts, gates opening at 12 and considerable queuing to get in quite normal. In the west country, at the height of the powers of Ian Botham, Joel Garner and Viv Richards gates opened at 10, four hours before the scheduled start.

Playing Somerset at Clarence Park, Weston-super-Mare

Travelling west in an Austin A30, not a vehicle known for its speed, or overtaking; although overtake it did with the help of the ‘voice of the Hampshire PA’, as front seat passenger and travelling guest of  honour.

 

Portsmouth week 1973, Hampshire were County Champions that year.

The United Services Ground in Portsmouth; where trains heading to and from the harbour station would slow to afford passengers a view of the play, as John Arlott would say when commentating. In later years a new rugby stand was erected and the catering advanced to include homemade teas on Sundays.

Before they were famous: Mark Nicholas fielding at slip.

Basingstoke; venue  for player benefit matches because of the support given.  A friendly club-house with teas dispensed in mugs from its kitchen.

 

A Hampshire team with two ICC Hall of Fame cricketers at Hove, being led from the field by Keith Stevenson.

John Arlott’s retirement in 1980 coincided almost exactly with the end of an era in British history;  the ‘voice of cricket’ of his time, with an appreciation for the contributions of the  honest  ‘county pro’. In the years that followed cricket festivals succumbed to centralising tendencies, the search for comforts corporate rather than co-operative, although for those that remember them the years before were good ones in which to watch cricket.