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.