Category Archives: HampshireDays

Champions by Dave Allen

Dave Allen’s expertly produced pamphlet recalls  a season in which Hants quite unexpectedly became   Champions, all the more favourably remembered because of it. In the years that followed the county arguably became the buzz team: high expectations but impacted by the rain gods winner of only two more trophies by 1978. It was also the start of almost 20 years in which the county’s bowling was spearheaded first by Andy Roberts and then Malcolm Marshall.

The cricket of the 1973 season  had a rather different nature to it: brilliant openers, teamwork among the bowlers that included the slow left-arm of David O’Sullivan and Peter Sainsbury, backed-up by very good fielding. Personally, I got lucky seeing nine days during August, eight of them red-ball. It seems a lot now,  although in the sporting landscape of then domestic cricket was prominent in a way that is hard to imagine in 2023:  sports desk updates on the radio most weekdays in the summer months were racing results and county cricket scores.

The Dean Park pavilion in 1973  was  much as it was when Gary Sanford took his fine photo above years later, and sitting on the green benches to the left was certainly prime listening when an announcement was made on the (just visible) PA about becoming Champions during the Bournemouth week. The cowshed (white) building to the right, the press box,  and Desmond Lynam’s afternoon  radio show was one broadcast of this to a wider world, followed by a report  that evening on the main BBC news. In the days of three tv channels it was probably seen by several millions.

As for messages for 2023: outgrounds are a fine part of the landscape, wherever the Championship(s) are eventually  won. Unexpected triumphs flag  the virtues of competitive balance:  success, spread it.  Since 2000  nine counties have won the title and keeping it on the horizon of those that haven’t should be a priority,   perhaps with  Bazball energies towards the red-ball game it will be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos from the Past II

A second set of photos taken from the world of county cricket over a six-week period in 1978. Some of them have appeared on this site or social media before, the best of the bunch individually are on the tab above, the ones here though hang together in their own way. There are all told seven ICC Hall of Fame of Players shown on the county circuit, one marker for just how different things were then.

The Oval, Roger Knight leading out the Surrey side  followed by the Hampshire openers Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge, later that afternoon Andy Roberts with both bat and ball. Top right at mid-on Intikhab, who over six years was Pakistan’s Test captain, an entertaining player to watch.  John Edrich in his final season, bottom right and the wicketkeeper is Cornishman Jack Richards.

Weston, grainy and a bit distant but Vic Marks bowling to  Mike  Taylor, identical twin Derek behind  Two photos giving some idea of the presence of  Viv Richards.  Bottom right concern for the welfare of Peter Roebuck, plainly in something of a daze; a picture with poignancy given his later career at Somerset, and the rest of his life, well-written about by Jon Hotten in his book The Meaning of Cricket.

Cheltenham, green and rather dark images from a game played during a wet-spell of weather. ‘Proctershire’, with Zaheer and Sadiq were a strong side, a contender for trophies, the two counties close rivals.

Bournemouth week; Warwickshire with, at the time, West Indian captain Alvin Kallicharran prominent. Top left shows David Brown bowling, Geoff Humpage keeping with David Rock batting. The pleasure for spectators of watching at the 5 o’clock hour.

Champions-elect Kent the second game, Derek Underwood bowling, Paul Downton behind the stumps with Asif fielding close. Credit the unseen, if not unknown, short-leg fielder in the pre-helmet era, still alive. A century from Trevor Jesty helped Hants to a win; a Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1983, in another era he would very probably  have played more ODIs for England.

Grounds 2023 (Hampshire Outgrounds)

Dean Park, May’s Bounty, United Services Ground.

In the history of Hampshire cricket about a half of its home Championship fixtures have been played at these three outgrounds, even on a count  to 2023; the club expanding its reach in the early 20c, contracting again towards the end of it, now the Rose Bowl.  So what got left behind? Scyld Berry in  Disappearing World expresses a  reasonable preference for grounds that are a part of somewhere: convenient to access and  places with some character, a common denominator with these three.

Dean Park: out of the station, round Cavendish Road and the first sound of bat on ball as players knocked-up before the start. A  ground to bear comparison with say, Tunbridge Wells, no rhododendrons that I remember, but a fine late 19c pavilion; public transport, then 10 minutes on foot.  A long time now since Hampshire days; in 2023 the BCP conurbation has a population in excess of 500,000, Hants departure a bit like ‘withdrawing from Somerset’  in terms of the game’s reach.

Basingstoke this month, the most recently used by Hants in 2010, and very recognisable now from decades past; just add marquees and spectators, and a player’s benefit year. A club where the county connection was evident during the later-stages of the one-day cups in the 20c, with a BNHCC banner cum flag on its travels, akin to those used by England football supporters.

Portsmouth, alight from a  Grade II listed building, pass the Guildhall, over the footbridge and then on to Burnaby Road; 25 and more years after the last time, the footbridge is no more, USG cricket still, but behind lock and smart card, a place for the military. Better perhaps to remember halcyon days when the Sunday League captured imaginations, prompting as it does the the question how many now head to the station, and alight at Hedge End for the Rose Bowl?

 

 

Hampshire 2nd XI

Horsham, Hornsey June 6th, 9th

Horhsam, second XI games can be a relaxed  pleasure to watch and about 100 came to see this one, including some folk from Hampshire.  It felt rather like a third day at a Championship match from decades ago: tea stall and bar no  queue, boundary perambulators, ground views without  floodlights. Just no five minute bell.

The players in 20th century style sat outside in the pavilion. Scyld Berry in  Disappearing World struck me as being a bit distant on Hants, patrons  more prominent than home-grown players. But the Second XI sides might be expected to include some  local talent: three in this game  born in the county, two through the Hampshire Cricket Academy; although in truth at least going by birthplaces and schooling  the visitors were not as local as the home side.

Hornsey, one of several venues used by Middlesex 2nds this summer. In  1959 the two counties played a Championship fixture here, one previous 2nds fixture in 1970. On the visitors team-sheet that year Gordon Greenidge, Danny Livingstone and Osburn (‘Ossie’) St C Gooding among others; Hants are a county with a decent history of giving West Indian cricketers an opening when some did not.

This week it was a second success for the visitors with Felix Organ prominent batting against a Middlesex side fielding several first-teamers. Keeping track of SET20  is not the simplest thing, but according to the twitter feed @newsofthetwos for Hants it’s on to finals day, this year at Wormsley.

 

Barry Richards at Dean Park

When Sky commentators picked an overseas  XI from 50 years of county cricket, Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge were a given, differences of opinion over some of the other places but not the two openers. Those of us  who took to cricket sitting behind on the Dean Park benches plainly got rather lucky,  to the extent that half a century later three List A/limited overs innings there by the South African maestro  stand out to this day.

Versus  Kent, September  1970, in  the days of local reports and the Beeb’s tv coverage on Sundays. A completely dominant innings against an opposition with ten internationals; Alan Stickland’s piece in the Bournemouth Echo hints at an outlook for South African cricketers that was not at that point settled, still the possibility of a future in Test cricket. Two months later came his innings of 356 in Australia in a career heading towards its peak.

Richards versus Lancashire was the local headline for his innings of  129 in a Gillette Cup QF two years later. Happily there is a YouTube clip of this one and a spread in the 1972 winter edition of The Cricketer gave two pages to it, reflecting on its brilliance and his status in the game.

Versus Leicestershire, August 1975, a long way above all again, electrifying those present. Alan Stickland’s report conveys the excitement, although tactfully misses the impact  on the pavilion tiles very evident from the scorebox. The legend of Darley Dale was made the following week.

Andy Murtagh has observed that for someone with his talent Barry Richards has not been lucky, as a player, or as commentator. Two trophies when Hants were the buzz team in the 1970s and the what might have been in a different political climate. Alan Butcher (Mark’s father) who once got both Hants openers out in the same spell, commented on social media that, of the two, he thought Barry got bored more easily; although for those who saw him bat when he wasn’t, doubts about the Sky XI opening pair there are none.

 

 

 

Photos from the 1970s

In  2019 Brian Carpenter who writes a piece on cricket blogs for Wisden mentioned  this one, pointing the way to some photos I snapped in 1978.  Quite a number of them are on this site somewhere, or on twitter, but if you have come this way for a look, ‘a best of the bunch’ are collated here.

Many thanks go to Gary Sanford, a fellow sightscreen committee member from long ago, for his photo of the Dean Park pavilion above  and also to the ‘unknown developer’.  In the 1970s when rolls of film were sent off to be developed, it was not too difficult to imagine that some of those doing the processing also followed the game,  certainly in a couple of cases an enlargement returned was an improvement on the original.

Hove 19th June One of the iconic settings for county cricket then, and now, and happily still ‘a ground’.  Turn left out of Hove station on a Monday morning  and where better to start an extended cricket-watching holiday?

 

The Oval 16th July A Sunday League game: two ICC Greats, Barry Richards and Andy Roberts,  John Edrich, together with David Turner.  Umpire Tom Spencer, who three years earlier had officiated in the first World Cup,

Northlands Road, Southampton 5th August A relaxed-looking Geoffrey Boycott in front of a full pavilion,  hosting a good many tykes on tour. Photograph taken from 40-50 yards away, the awareness of its subject having prompted his response. 

Clarence Park, Weston 10th August A shaft of sun light giving a terrestrial-celestial aspect to the cricket; some of the  other snaps of Viv Richards taken that afternoon  show just what a colossus he was and a dominating presence in this one certainly.

Dean Park, Bournemouth  23rd August Dennis Amiss batting for Warwickshire, a pioneer user of helmets that summer when their use was ‘controversial’.  A man apart rather because of it, generations of cricketers since have had reason to be grateful to him.

Northlands Road,  27th August Gordon Greenidge playing against Kent in a SL game. The Hants Handbook for the year records his frustration with only making  51, a century in each innings followed when the Championship fixture resumed the following day.

Dean Park 3rd September Richard Gilliat with the JPL trophy. A happy ending for a batsman who walked, and who had reached the the end of his playing career that year.  Not everything about cricket celebrations in the 1970s was better then, but they did connect players with ‘ordinary’ supporters, and hopefully some in the picture still follow the game. For those who do QoS,  is the partly obscured figure behind ‘RMC’ a  recognisable one?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

August Cricket Week

Hampshire versus Kent, 26th-29th August 1978, Bournemouth. Surrey versus Hampshire 18-21st  August 2019,  The Oval.

When John Arlott retired in 1980 he wrote of his abiding nostalgia for the county cricket circuit which had anchored much of his career, cricketers as members of a travelling circus going round the country in the summer months, the game’s greats on board.  Something from another world now,  but in the summer of 1978 it was a strong  Kent team, that included ‘Deadly’ Derek Underwood, that came for the second half of the Bournemouth week. On the point of becoming County Champions they bumped into Gordon  Greenidge  going through a great purple patch:  five centuries and a fifty (in the SL game below) in seven innings; two of them enabling the home side  to win with relative ease, (umpires) Cowley and Jesty at the crease.

 

The photo of Trevor Jesty  from behind looks a bit odd now, although given a camera at just one end  with TV coverage  at the time, not especially then.  In another media age, Radio 2 did hourly sports desks in the afternoon which fed the game’s chatter, with the  second reading of the cricket scoreboard at 7.30; a holy of sorts for some, it was often delivered with a certain gravitas if memory serves.

As for those doing the chatter  players then perambulated around grounds and talked to members and spectators. This blog takes its name from those who watched  from one end of Dean Park in those years: prominent the then chair of CAMRA, real ale and communism,  ‘W.G.’, who having trialled the world of work for a fortnight in the 1950s had  decided against continuing with it, those too young to have made that decision; those that weren’t and hadn’t and one who remembered matches from the 1930s. Easy days spent watching cricket: part sanctuary, part speakers’ corner, and a comment on those with the patience to follow  the  game and the tolerances of each other that watching fostered.

The  Oval in 2019 is  a decent place to take in the pleasures of a Monday morning at the cricket, hearth  from its history and strangely, or maybe not all, the Vauxhall End has its ‘sightscreen committee’, independent-minded  comments and recollections as standard. Perhaps there is a parallel universe somewhere with many sightscreen committees, the game there might be the better for it , but in this one it should be mentioned the ‘People’s Home’ also benefits from its flag-bearers for the county game in the Peter May stand.

 

The course of the Surrey-Hants fixture  was reset  by a big innings of considerable maturity from Ollie Pope, enough to generate interest on the last afternoon despite the fact that, in the end, only 22 wickets fell over four days. The 12 men of Hants (one concussion sub) resisting the 13 of Surrey (two England call-ups) with an innings of promise from Felix Organ  leading their rearguard. As the game reached its conclusion Ben Foakes again showed the lightening speed of his reactions (and anticipation) and credit, of course, to those who field at short-leg

When the game was expanding in the direction of more limited-overs cricket  in decades past there were mature types then who, understandably, did not give thanks for having their memories, understanding, of the game disrupted.  Sentiments that get passed across the generations maybe; but had England won the World Cup in 1979 no-one then would have been bonkers enough to promptly  downgrade the Gillette Cup, and  when England did win the Ashes in 1981, the County Championship was respected in  ways that it just isn’t now.  Much  centralisation of decision-making  since has left the game’s governing body appearing as confused as it is self-interested.

 

 

 

 

 

Dean Park, Bournemouth

Hampshire versus Middlesex 3rd September 1978.

The current issue of The Nightwatchman is largely  given over to the influence that overseas players have had on  domestic cricket since the summer of 1968,  the season after the rules on their registration were relaxed. In the 1970s much of the excitement that followed came from West Indian cricketers who dominated on the international stage but who starred in domestic cricket as well.

Clive Lloyd, Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Alvin Kallicharran had county careers that between them spanned more than 70 years, brilliant but also lasting, and apart from Roy Fredericks who by then had left Glamorgan, 10 of the West Indian team that won the inaugural World Cup in 1975 returned to play for their counties that summer, 6 of them in Sunday League fixtures the following day. Seen from 2018 the general strength of  West Indian cricket in the 70s and 80s, and the loyalty of the individual players to their respective counties, put the game decades ahead of football in helping combat prejudice.

As to the Sunday League match played on the 3rd September 1978 at Dean Park, after the mid-season exit of Barry Richards, it was a game largely won by Gordon Greenidge  batting about as well as at any time for his county.  The strong Hants team of the 70s were on the wane, but were to claim the JPL trophy that evening as he got on top against a Middlesex team, that boasted a bowling attack of  fellow Barbadian, Wayne Daniel, Mike Selvey , the ‘spin twins’ Phil Edmonds and John Emburey, and Mike Gatting.   Even after 40 years it is not at all difficult to remember just how hard Gordon Greenidge hit  a cricket ball, back over the bowler’s head as much as anywhere, and the general excitement, apprehension then relief that followed the ball’s trajectory after the shot, realising that someone might have to catch it, and then seeing the ball land in or sail over the hedges that surrounded the ground.

The Middlesex team that afternoon had nine players who either had or who would go on to play international cricket; although it was actually Norman ‘Smokey’ Featherstone that led the visitors’ reply, having also checked the Hants innings with the ball. Harry Pearson in his piece ‘The Journeymen’ points out just how important ‘bits and pieces’ players can be to their teams and how much appreciated they are at times by supporters as well; in the case of Norman Featherstone a career lasting a decade and more, giving ‘glue’ to a Middlesex team that was generally on the rise in the 70s.

In a separate piece titled ‘Box of Delights’, Matthew Engel recalls happy summer days past  when county cricket was quite widely covered by the national press, but also by local, independently-minded journalists  as well.  It could fairly be said that the press box at Dean Park, to the left in ‘the cowshed’, did basics;  a building shared with the scorers to the right, a store of historic equipment in the rear which also provided a place for the umpires to change in.  But a way of life for those doing reports that had a certain charm to be sure, particularly then perhaps; even if, unlike their colleagues going round the nation’s racecourses, there were no telephonists to assist with dispatches.

There were other ways, now largely forgotten, in which domestic cricket exercised its voice then;  tea-time interviews given by county players and officials as  a part of the Beeb’s coverage on Sundays being one of them. Twenty minutes or so once a week through the summer months; ground level views in a manner of speaking, often from pleasant settings at a time when the game was still largely viewed as a game, and batsmen who walked, such as Hampshire’s captain Richard Gilliat, won their share of trophies. In his interview that summer he expressed  complete scepticism about the long-term benefits of the Packer revolution  for ‘ordinary’ county cricketers, which from the vantage point of 2018 is a judgement that seems to have been largely, if not entirely, right.

Of Dean Park, Hants continued playing home fixtures there until the early 1990s after a decade in which the county of the Hambledon club began to rather lose its way off the field. If cricket is a mirror of sorts to the world beyond, the Rose Bowl, conceived in the late 80s during the excesses of the ‘Lawson Boom’, led to decades of financial strain in Southampton, as an essentially solvent cricket club making small surpluses became something rather different. Others since have added to the over-expansion of TMGs and are still counting the cost.

Hampshire 221-4, (C.G. Greenidge 122), Middlesex 195ao (N.G. Featherstone 76, T.E. Jesty 5-32).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Burnaby Road, Portsmouth

Hampshire versus Yorkshire Sunday 6th August 1978

The United Services Ground in the 1970s had a certain robustness to it, the feel to spectating given partly by the sounds emanating from the Officers’ Club in one corner and the famed heavy roller, weighing over 5 tonnes, stationed more or less directly opposite. Behind the rugby stand opposite in the photo, the railway line, and, on one side of the ground the festival tents with deck chairs for spectators, adjacent to the entrance and the impressive King James’s Gate.

Modernity then was in the form of the rugby clubhouse cum pavilion next to the pavilion used by the  players; offering home-made teas on Sunday afternoons and social history in the form of the photographs of the rugby teams over the decades, and the distinctive looking figures that played for them. Burnaby Road also did something of a split scoreboard, with the main board to the left of the older pavilion and tin plates doing bowlers’ overs bowled on the other side.

Cricket Archive records first-class cricket starting with a match between a Cambridge University team and the visiting Australians in 1882, a week or so before the ashes of English cricket were urned at the Oval.  County Championship matches were first played in 1895, and wars and two seasons apart, continued until 2000.  An historic ground; as to the cricket played on Sunday 6th August 1978, the match rather foreshadowed what was to happen in the  World Cup Final a year later. In an era of outstanding West Indians, Gordon Greenidge batted brilliantly, scoring at a rate close to current norms in List A cricket; the visitors after a solid start, struggled rather (Hampshire 216-4 in 34 overs, G. Greenidge 116, Yorkshire 130ao, 28 overs).

Ambient pleasure in watching at Pompey came from its history and distinctive character, a good ground to perambulate and cricket by the sea as well; with the prospect of the Rose Bowl being otherwise used for several weeks in the summer of 2020, perhaps a Hampshire team will return to Portsmouth, or, if not, then to May’s Bounty in Basingstoke.

 

 

 

 

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.