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Kent Cricket Heritage Trust

Kent Cricket – Now and Then

A SHAMELESS PLUG

 

My new book, Stories of Cricket’s Finest Painting: Kent v Lancashire 1906, is published on 10 July. This is the second longest title to any book I have so far written (beaten only by Hyacinth Bucket’s Book of Etiquette for the Socially Less Fortunate, 56 letters to my latest at 45 letters plus 4 digits) but it took a lot more research than Mrs. Bucket’s volume.

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The subject is, I will admit, a niche one, concerning a painting completed in 1907 of two teams of long dead cricketers playing at Canterbury in high summer. You may well conclude that only followers of the history of cricket in Kent, and possibly Lancashire, will find it of interest, but I hope you are proved wrong. If that is indeed my market, then sales will not be enough for me to buy my first Rolls Royce, which has been my plan all along. A Lego version perhaps, but not the real thing. However, I (and my publishers) hope that the appeal of the book is wider than that.

The painting was commissioned by Lord Harris, then chairman and Lord High Everything Else at Kent County Cricket Club, to celebrate the county winning the County Championship for the first time It was painted by Albert Chevallier Tayler, a fine if not quite a great artist who, however, knew and loved his cricket. This painting was to prove his masterpiece. It shows the moment when the wonderful Kent left hand bowler Colin ‘Charlie’ Blythe prepares to bowl to one of the finest batsmen of his generation, Johnny Tyldesley of Lancashire, with the rest of the Kent eleven eagerly anticipating the delivery. Perhaps the significance to the painting is that it captures a moment just before the action: does not show stumps flying or fielders diving to take a brilliant catch. The painting is not a glorification of Kent’s success, it is a glorification of the game of cricket itself.

Cricket in England in 1906 was very different from the game we see today. In 1906 there was no limited overs cricket, no white balls, no reverse sweeps or scoops, and not even any Test matches that year. But it was still one of the most glorious summers of cricket that many people had ever experienced. The sun shone, records tumbled, and Kent just pipped Yorkshire to the title. If Yorkshire had not lost their last but one game of the season, against Gloucestershire, by the narrowest possible margin – one run – when Gilbert Jessop trapped Yorkshire’s last man lbw as time was running out, then Yorkshire would have been champions and Kent would have to have waited until 1909 for their first title.

The painting itself was an artistic success, but not a commercial success. Despite many attempts to sell prints to members, non-members and any passing browser, the costs of commissioning the painting and producing the prints exceeded the income received, and it was not until 2006, when the Kent CCC committee decided to sell the painting, that its commercial worth was recognised. The painting had for some years before that been housed at Lord’s, because the club could not afford the insurance cover, and a copy had been made by the Yorkshire artist Barrington Bramley and hung in the Chiesman Pavilion at Canterbury (but that’s another story), so the decision to sell at a time of some financial struggle was not a hard one. The sale, through Sotheby’s, yielded a hammer price of £600,000, at the time the highest price ever reached for a cricket painting, and thanks to the generosity of the buyer, the Andrew Brownsword Foundation, the painting still hangs on long term loan in the pavilion at Lord’s. Mr. Brownsword himself was educated at the Harvey Grammar School in Folkestone, Leslie Ames’ alma mater, which might explain his fondness for Kent cricket.

Cricket art was greatly influenced by the painting, which is still one of the very few that portrays a complete eleven in the field, in action in a real match. There have been many paintings of moments from cricket matches, and many portraits of cricketers either singly or in groups, but the all-inclusive concept behind Chevallier Tayler’s painting, originally known as The County Eleven In The Field, was entirely original and has never been replicated on such a large, or such a successful, scale.

In researching the book, I have had a great time going through the local press of the time, finding out about Canterbury Week in the Edwardian era, the Old Stagers, the man in the crowd who was hit by a six and needed to be revived by the St. John Ambulance man, and all the players involved in the match itself (not to mention the the one who wasn’t). I have written about the way the Kent club was formed, how Canterbury Week began and grew, and about the lives of the players and umpires in the painting. I have also compared cricket in 1906 with cricket today, not always, I fear, to the advantage of 2019. The Hundred, anyone?

Stories of Cricket’s Finest Painting: Kent v Lancashire 1906, by Jonathan Rice, published by Pitch Publishing on 10 July, £18.99

 

 

 

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KENT AND THE WORLD CUP

The ICC World Cup is going on all around us (or at least, in those parts of the country not being flooded out by the glorious June weather), but there are no Kent players involved, unless you count Matt Henry with New Zealand, who has, after all, got his Kent cap. Joe Denly was unlucky to miss out for England, but I expect in the overall course of things, playing for his county is better than acting as drinks waiter for six weeks or so, a fate that has befallen James Vince.

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Joe Denly – no longer England’s drinks waiter

It made me wonder about Kent’s involvement in previous World Cups, this being now the twelfth time this tournament has taken place, the twelfth time England have tried to win the trophy, and – I have a ghastly feeling – the twelfth time they will fall just short. Would England have done better if more Kent players had been involved?

The first World Cup, in 1975, then called the Prudential World Cup, featured four of the Kent county side in the England squad – Mike Denness, Alan Knott, Derek Underwood and Bob Woolmer – as well as Asif Iqbal and Bernard Julien, both contracted overseas players for the county, playing for Pakistan and West Indies respectively. In those glorious days of the 1970s Kent swept all before them, although not even Kent could make up for the loss of six key players during a large part of the summer, and in 1975 we were trophy-less. England, led by Mike Denness, still the only Kent player to have captained England in the World Cup, got to the semi-finals, where the reward for their efforts was the vast sum of £1,000. Hardly worth bothering to turn up. None of the Kent players did very much for England: in fact Bob Woolmer did nothing at all, acting as drinks waiter throughout, thus establishing a tradition for Kent players in white ball cricket for England. They are good to have in the squad, mix the drinks uncomplainingly and if offered the chance to play often do rather well. Bernard Julien, of Kent and West Indies, on the other hand, returned to Kent with a winners’ medal in his cricket bag.

In 1979, there were no Kent players picked for England’s World Cup squad, and once again England reached the semi-finals. In 1983, the only Kent player to make the England World Cup squad between 1975 and 1999 played in every England game, and still we only got as far as the semi-finals. No prizes for guessing the name of that player, a man whose normal game was perhaps not entirely suited to rapid scoring, who reportedly hit only two sixes in his entire career but who could get runs in a hurry when they were needed – Chris Tavaré.

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Chris Tavaré in aggressive mood

For the next three World Cups, in 1987, 1991/2 and 1996, the England selectors overlooked Kent players entirely, and England reached the final twice before performing rather more ignominiously in 1996. It was not until 1999 that another Kent player was chosen for the World Cup, and this time it was the man denigrated as a pie-chucker, but who for some years held the record for the best bowling analysis by an England player in an ODI – Mark Ealham. But even with him in the side, we did no better than in the previous World Cup, failing even to reach the semi-final stage.

So the England selectors decided for the next two World Cups, in 2003 and 2007, to go back to their ‘no Kent players’ policy, and a fat lot of good it did them. We still struggled, in 2003 not even doing as well as Kenya. Meanwhile Australia won almost every time. They had at least one Kent player in their squad – Steve Waugh, although without checking the facts (and why would I do that?) I am pretty sure that he did not play for Kent until after his final appearance in a World Cup.

Finally, in 2011 we come to the only Kent player to have been included in two England World Cup squads, and the only Kent man since Mike Denness to have captained England in an ODI – James Tredwell. Tredders, sadly now retired but in his heyday one of the most popular and hard working players in county cricket, played two matches in the 2011 World Cup, against West Indies and Sri Lanka, and also played one match in the 2015 competition, against Afghanistan. Against the West Indies in 2011, he took four wickets for 48 in his ten overs, about the only individual performance by a Kent man worth noting over the 44 years of World Cup cricket. Despite Tredwell’s efforts, England yet again missed out on a semi-final place. And they did it again in 2015.

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Tredders – the only Kent player to play in two World Cups

Frankly, I consider Kent’s county performance to be infinitely more important than England’s efforts in the World Cup, and although I hope England wins the current shenanigans, I am pleased we have Joe Denly in Canterbury rather than carrying drinks or doing a bit of net bowling at some other ground. Still, I hope that in future Kent will provide players of sufficient quality to ensure­ that they are always challenging for a place in the England squad, and that our rather feeble total of just seven men picked for the World Cup will improve in years to come.

The women’s World Cup, of course, is a completely different matter. Without Kent’s contribution to that competition over the years we would not be World Champions now.

 

 

KENT’S WOMEN ARE WINNERS

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Polo Farm ground near Canterbury to watch the start of the Women’s county season, as Kent took on Nottinghamshire. To be perfectly honest, the thing that drew me there most was the fact that my granddaughter was among the Kent Under-11 squad who were given their county caps by two of Kent’s England players, Tammy Beaumont and Tash Farrant, before the match began, which was a wonderful gesture to show how important the continuity of successful cricket in Kent is to everyone concerned. Many of the players in the county side had come through the junior ranks, coached and organised by David Sear, a man who is by now certainly a local cricketing legend if not a Kentish national treasure. When the match itself began, Kent soon had the measure of Notts, and they won in style. And that was just the start. As I write this, the Kent women have gone on to win all of their first four championship matches, emphasising what a strong county for women’s cricket Kent is and has always been.

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Tash Farrant and Tammy Beaumont present one of Kent’s U-11 girls with her cap

The 2019 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack, the bible of cricket, has chosen Tammy Beaumont as one of their Five Cricketers of the Year, making her the second woman from Kent, after Charlotte Edwards, to win that honour, which to date has only ever been won by six women. Kent Women have won the County Championship more times, seven, than any other county since it was first officially organised in 1997, and have been  runners-up a further five times, not to mention three T20 titles – but of course women’s cricket in the county has a much longer history than that. The first game under the Kent County banner seems to have been in 1937, but a full century before that women were playing cricket in Kent. There is even a lithograph dated 1779 entitled “Women at Cricket”, and the part played by the Kentish Maid Christina Willes in the development of overarm bowling in ther early part of the nineteenth century is well known, although the legend may well be based on not much fact.

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Women At Cricket – 1779

Eighty years ago, Kent women were playing cricket against teams from all around the country, even if there was no officially recognised county championship then. Several of Kent’s best players, women like Betty Archdale, Marjorie Richards, Carol Valentine (the sister of Bryan Valentine) and the twins Joan and Barbara Blaker, daughters of Dick Blaker who was part of Kent’s first Championship winning side in 1906, were all well known in the years immediately before the Second World War. People watching women’s cricket these days comment on the high level of skill and fitness shown by the players, and certainly this is true in comparison with the women’s game thirty years ago. Rachael Heyhoe-Flint, one of the greats of women’s cricket and a force of nature in her own right, commented to me a couple of years before she died that she could never have played the way that more modern players like Charlotte Edwards or Sarah Taylor play, but even accounting for Rachael’s natural modesty (not a quality for which she is usually remembered), there is no doubt that the top women these days play at a different level from their predecessors.

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Then and now- Betty Archdale and Lottie Edwards

The reason is largely economic. All women cricketers of the past were amateurs and had to pay their own way completely. Even on overseas tours, they were barely subsidised beyond a contribution from the organisers towards their travel costs, and a three or four month tour of Australia might cost a tourist several thousand pounds, even sixty years ago, not to mention any loss of earnings which would inevitably result from a long absence from home. This meant that only the most well off could hope to play at international level, while women who were gifted at sport tended to find other, less expensive outlets for their talents. And they certainly could not expect much help with coaching, fitness training, physiotherapy, diet planning and all the other things that top cricket professionals these days, men and women, are beginning to take from granted. No wonder that in women’s cricket the fielding is quicker, the batsmen hit harder and the bowlers bowl faster than they did a generation ago.

Still, we should not underestimate or forget the pioneering women cricketers of the past. Without their example, their successes and their skills in spite of the barriers put up before them, there would be much less enthusiasm for women’s cricket today. OK, so it seems unlikely that women’s cricket will ever eclipse the male version in public popularity, but there is no reason why in the not too distant future cricket should not be seen, like tennis, as a sport where the men’s and women’s games are seen as equally exciting and an equally lucrative sport for both spectators and players. Do yourself a favour and go and watch the Kent Women this summer. At the moment they seem to winning more often than the men and you will be very pleasantly surprised by what you see.

 

 

THE OLD BOYS CLUB

M.E. Trescothick, lbw b Stevens 5.

Marcus Trescothick                                  Darren Stevens

When this dismissal happened, on Sunday 7th April at Taunton, the oldest player on the county circuit had to trudge back to the pavilion while the second oldest player on the county circuit received pats on the back from his team-mates. It would be something that would be very hard to check (although I dare say somebody will almost certainly try) if this was the first time in the history of the Championship that the two oldest players on the circuit had been involved in one dismissing the other, but it seems very unlikely that it has happened before. Another major landmark in the careers of Banger and Stevo.

Their combined ages that day, 86 years and 80 days, may well be beaten when Somerset come to the Spitfire Ground in June, when both men will have aged another 64 days, unless Trescothick has learnt to deal with Stevo’s dibbly-dobbly swingers by then, and Stevo takes care not to snick to slip. However, we know that Stevo’s dismissal of Trescothick is by no means the oldest dismissal in county cricket history, as both men are comparative youngsters compared with some of the players of a few years ago. Even in Kent, two players played championship cricket for Kent aged at least five years older than Stevens. Jack Hubble was 48 years and 124 days old when he played his final county game, against Leicestershire at Tunbridge Wells in 1929. He was dismissed by 39 year old Ewart Astill in the second innings, giving a combined age of around 88 years. Frank Woolley was even older –  51 years and 97 days old when he played against Notts at Dover in 1938, and just a quick shuffle through Wisden for that year shows that when Woolley was lbw to Arthur Wellard in both innings of Kent’s game at Taunton late in August, the combined ages of the two men was 86 years and 229 days. What’s more, Woolley dismissed the Somerset skipper, ‘Dar’ Lyon, stumped by Hopper Levett for 8 in Somerset’s second innings, giving a combined bowler and victim age of 91 years and 217 days. Hopper Levett was then a mere stripling of 29, so he must have felt somewhat out of place amongst all these old men. But it shows that Stevo and Trescothick did not even beat the record for oldest bowler and victim for Kent v Somerset at Taunton! It will take them three more years to do that. In Kent’s 1938 away fixture against Leicestershire, Stevo’s old county, Woolley took eleven wickets, including that of N.F.Armstrong, who was then coming up for 45. The combined age of all but 96 years in that dismissal may well be a record, but I’d have to go through Wilfred Rhodes’ and W.G. Grace’s later careers to be sure, not to mention Brian Close, Fred Titmus and Ray Illingworth.

Lord Harris                                      Frank Woolley

Frank Woolley is the oldest person to play county cricket for Kent, but he is not the oldest to have played for the county in a first-class game. That record is held by – who else – Lord Harris, who was 60 years and 151 days old on the final day of Kent’s game against the Indian tourists at Catford in 1911. He was caught and bowled for 36 by the 26 year old Jehangir Warden, which makes a combined age of around 87 years, another one that beats Stevens and Trescothick.

In the 1850s both William Clarke, playing as a ‘given man’, and Alfred Mynn, the Lion of Kent, played for the county in their fifties, as did Fuller Pilch and Ted Wenman. Indeed all four men were over fifty when they played for Kent against England at Canterbury in 1854, but as England were victorious by 7 wickets, the Kent selectors probably decided that a youth policy was urgently needed, and only Alfred Mynn ever played for the county again.

One record that Darren Stevens has beaten this season is one of Colin Cowdrey’s, which has stood since 1975. When Kent played Hampshire in the Royal London One Day Cup on 17 April, Stevo, then a fortnight shy of his 43rdbirthday, became the oldest man to play white-ball cricket for the county. He leapfrogged from third place on the list at the end of last season, to the top where Cowdrey, then aged 42 years and 293 days, had reigned supreme for almost 44 years. The only other man to play white-ball cricket for Kent in his forties is Derek Underwood, who was 42 years and 83 days old when he played his last Sunday League game against Hampshire at Maidstone in 1987. Next on the list come David Sayer, Alan Knott and Bob Wilson, who were all over 39 the last time they played limited overs cricket for Kent. So Stevo has the chance to stretch his lead in this particular area, even if he is unlikely to knock either Frank Woolley or Lord Harris off their first-class perches.

How long should a cricketer keep playing? As long as he is fit, and as long as his county side wants him, I suppose. Trescothick and Stevens, like Ol’ Man River, just keep rolling along, and their counties, and their supporters, seem quite happy with this state of affairs. They may not be quite so quick between the wickets as once they were, but they still both give great value to their counties, so let us hope that they are still around next season and maybe even the year after that, to get to a combined age of 90 when they meet in the championship of 2021.

 

 

TWO DOUBLE HUNDREDS

In February this year, the 28 year old Sri Lankan batsman Angelo Perera, captaining the Nondescripts against the Sinhalese Sports Club in a first-class Premier League domestic game, scored 201 in the first innings and 231 in the second innings, to become only the second man in history to score two double hundreds in one game. The pitch was described as ‘flat’, with the lowest team total 444, and the game ended in a draw. That was not the only high-scoring game in the Sri Lankan Premier League this season. In all, 14 double centuries had been hit in Sri Lankan domestic cricket in the 2018/19 season up to and including Perera’s innings, so you could argue that high scoring at this level was the norm rather than a great exception.

So the 80 year old record of the then 23 year old Arthur Fagg is unique no more. Scoring one double century is tough enough, but having enough time as well as enough talent to score two in a match is extremely rare. It was in 1938, against Essex at Colchester on July 13th, 14thand 15th that Arthur Edward Fagg became the first man to achieve this feat. Since then two people have made a triple century and a single century in the same match, another well nigh impossible task, mainly because there is never likely to be time to do it.

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Arthur Fagg

Fagg, who had been well below his best in 1937 after contracting rheumatic fever on the MCC tour of Australia in 1936/37, batted superbly throughout the season of 1938. At Colchester, he opened the batting and in the first innings made 244 out of a total of 429. Wisden stated that the Essex bowling was not at its usual strength because of the Gentlemen v Players match taking place at Lord’s at the same time, which meant that their fine and tragic fast bowler Ken Farnes was not playing, but equally Kent were without Frank Woolley for the same reason. “Vigorous on-drives and powerful strokes to leg were his chief means of scoring”, said Wisden. He scored 31 fours in his first innings and 27 in the second. It is worth noting that the Kent first innings, which lasted for 122.1 overs, was over by 6 pm on the first day, leaving Essex a worrying few overs to finish off the day, but they survived to be 12 for no wicket overnight. The following day, Kent dismissed Essex for 350, with Tom Pearce hitting 137 not out, and Doug Wright taking 7 for 107 in 31.3 overs. The whole innings had lasted 103.3 overs, but there was still plenty of time left in the day for Kent to rattle up 142 for no wicket, with Fagg already into three figures on 104 not out. It had taken him a mere 69 minutes to reach his hundred.

The next morning, with the score on 283, Essex finally managed to take a wicket when Peter Sunnucks was run out for 82, and with Fagg in the 190s, the number ten Alan Watt was sent in to keep him company while he reached his double double century. The pair put on 30, of which Watt made 24, before Fagg completed his remarkable feat and finished on 203 not out. Watt finished on 24 not out in both innings, a rather less amazing but vaguely interesting statistical record. Essex batted again, needing almost 400 to gain an unlikely victory, but at 8 for 2 the rain intervened, and the match was left drawn.

In 1938 Fagg scored almost 2,500 runs and made 9 centuries and, in Wisden’s words “reached the standard expected of him two years previously”. But he was unfortunate in playing at the same time as many great opening batsmen – Hutton and Washbrook for a start – and he only played five times for England, and never after the war, when he was probably in his prime. His highest score in eight Test innings was only 39. In his whole career, which lasted from 1932 until 1957, he scored 27,291 runs at an average of 36.05, including 58 centuries, of which over 26,000 were scored for Kent. An odd quirk of his career is that although he scored six double centuries for Kent, only one of them was scored within the county, and that at Dover’s Crabble ground, against Middlesex in 1948. Arthur Fagg’s run tally puts him fifth on the list of Kent’s most prolific batsmen, and he is also third on the list of Kent’s catchers, and sixth on the list of Kent’s youngest players on debut – he was just 17 years and 25 days old when he made his debut against Warwickshire in 1932. After his retirement from playing, he became an umpire and stood in eighteen Tests between 1967 and 1976, earning a reputation as a strict but expert arbiter. He died on 13 September 1977, aged only 62, having suffered from poor health for some years.

It’s a bit of a surprise that there is not a part of the Canterbury ground named after him, but we have run out of buildings to name after somebody, and although there are gates and even ends which could bear famous cricketers’ names (think Jimmy Anderson at Old Trafford), I suppose it would be a bit silly to have a Fagg End, just as it would be daft to have a Billings Gate. But even without any permanent reminder of Arthur Fagg at Canterbury, he should not be forgotten. Two double centuries in a game is a very rare achievement, and even if it is no longer unique, Arthur Fagg was the first to do it, and he did it for Kent. Angelo Perera can never match that.

UnknownAngelo Perera

 

A GREAT COACH

I was recently at the annual dinner of the Kent League, a very enjoyable occasion which celebrated the successes of the leagues and the clubs in 2018. Among the prizewinners was 17 year old Jordan Cox, a wicket-keeper batsman who has just signed his first professional contract with the club, and of whom the club has very high hopes. He will, of course, have to wait for his chances because there is a long list of wicket-keeper batsmen ahead of him in the pecking order at the moment. Sam Billings is the club captain, Adam Rouse his very able deputy behind the stumps, and then there is Ollie Robinson, who broke into the first team as a batsman at the end of the summer, but who is also an excellent keeper, not to mention Heino Kuhn who has kept wicket for South Africa, and even Daniel Bell-Drummond who has been seen wearing the gloves on occasion. But DBD’s current bowling ambitions probably drop him off that list. And I don’t think Stevo’s ever kept wicket.

We may have a glut of wicket-keepers, but the issue that has haunted the side for many years is our lack of fast bowlers. If we look back through the lists, we note that since the turn of the century, only one player who is a genuine home-grown opening bowler has been capped by the county – Matt Coles. And he has moved on to pastures new. Yes, we’ve had some great imports and canny signings, from Matt Henry and Mitch Claydon to people like McLaren, Kemp, Andrew Hall, Amjad Khan and Martin Saggers, but none of these are home grown. The last opening bowler to come up through the leagues to win his county cap was one J B de C Thompson, capped in 1999, who retired soon afterwards to become a full time doctor. He is now the club’s honorary medical advisor. Many potential fast bowlers have made it to the fringes of the county side, but have not then kicked on to become mainstays of the attack. It is not a proud record.

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Dr. Julian Thompson

Can we put this down to the Thatcher years, when the mines were closed and no longer could we go to a pithead in Betteshanger or Snowdown and whistle for a burly fast bowler, as legend says they used to do in Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire? Or is that there is something in the Kentish air that works for wicketkeepers and left arm spinners but not for fast bowlers? Actually, it’s a combination of chance and, perhaps, something about Kent that just doesn’t suit the really fast stuff. In the 2018 KCCC Annual, Hon. Curator David Robertson picked his all time Kent eleven, and opening the bowling were John Shepherd and Fred Ridgway.

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Fred Ridgway

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John Shepherd

Both excellent players, and brilliant servants of Kent, but neither of them Kent born, and neither of them likely to strike fear for their physical safety into the hearts of opening batsmen.

This is not a diatribe against the Kent League nor against the Academy or any of the coaches there. The raw material has to be there too, and a look back at the history of the club shows that it was ever thus. When the Tonbridge Nursery was established under Captain William McCanlis, he too found that there were few opening bowlers to be found in the Garden of England.

William McCanlis is a hugely important name in the history of Kent County Cricket Club. He played 46 matches for Kent between 1862 and 1877, scoring 1113 runs at an average of just 13.97, and with a best score of 67, opening the batting for Kent against Lancashire at Gravesend in 1873, and taking 18 wickets for 496 runs (ave. 27.55) with as best of 4 for 67 against Yorkshire at Middlesbrough in 1864. He was a right hand bat, and a bowler of whose style no description seems to have survived. Nor, for that matter, does a photograph of him. Although his playing record was mediocre – he was described as ‘a fine and powerful hitter, excelling especially in the drive, and likewise a good field’ – he proved to be an inspired coach and talent scout. Like so many in every sporting field who have to struggle to make the most of their skills, McCanlis knew the nuts and bolts of his own game and was therefore able to pass his knowledge on to players who had far more natural talent than he ever had. Think of Jose Mourinho or Roy Hodgson in football – average players but great coaches – and compare them with Bobby Charlton or Stanley Matthews – great players but because they did not have to analyse their skills to understand why they were the best on the park, only average coaches. It’s the same in every sport – with exceptions, of course. Those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach. And the best teachers are worth at least as much as the best doers.

In 1897 McCanlis was appointed coach of the newly established Tonbridge Nursery, in many ways the equivalent of today’s Academy. Among the players who came into the county eleven via the Tonbridge Nursery in his time were Colin Blythe (discovered by McCanlis in the nets at the Rectory Field, Blackheath), Arthur Fielder (a fast bowler from Plaxtol, near Tonbridge), “Tich” Freeman, Wally Hardinge, James Seymour and Frank Woolley. That’s four of the all time top six wicket takers for Kent and three of the top four run scorers, as well as the two most prolific catchers in Kent history. Quite a record.

When he retired in 1912, the committee noted that “what the club owes him for his lifelong services to the county as cricketer, counsellor and friend it is impossible to estimate, but so far as his coaching is concerned he has the extreme satisfaction of having lived to see and enjoy the most satisfactory results.” Between 1906 and 1913, the county won the county championship four times.

In McCanlis’ day, over a century ago, cricket was simpler and the key to success was in identifying your talent from within your county’s borders and then nurturing that talent until it flowers naturally. Today things are a bit more competitive and the search for talent covers the whole world, not just Kent. But the basic need to have a nursery, these days called an Academy, and to have people who can pass on the skills and attitude that a top cricketer needs still remains. I believe the Kent Academy is serving us well, and I know their keenness to find genuine quality opening bowlers is stronger than ever. But it all takes time.

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR, FATHER?

Two different stories grabbed my attention this week, and then combined in the shape of one Kent cricketer. The first story began with Joe Denly being chosen for the T20 international against Sri Lanka, and opening the bowling – with great success it must be added. The question arose – when was the last time that a Kent player opened England’s bowling in any Test match or white ball international? Thoughts of Martin Saggers, Martin McCague, Dean Headley, Mark Ealham, Richard Ellison and even Alan Igglesden came into my head, and then I wondered if James Tredwell had ever opened the bowling in an ODI. And then another name cropped up, that of Amjad Khan, who played his only Test for England in the West Indies early in 2009. A quick check showed that he did not open the bowling in either innings for England – captain Strauss left that to Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad – and so the search went on. But I was then sidetracked into looking up Kent’s other one-Test wonders, a list which now contains fourteen names. There are only two one-ODI wonders from Kent, incidentally, one of whom, Mark Benson, is also a one-Test wonder. The other played one or two more Tests than Benny. His name was Colin Cowdrey. There are also two players on the one T20 international list – Rob Key and Amjad Khan again, but again Amjad did not open the bowling. I’m still not sure who the last England opening bowler from Kent before Joe Denly was. I’d be happy if somebody could put me out of my misery.

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Amjad Khan

One of the fourteen Kent one-Test wonders also featured in our recent remembrance of the Armistice. Kent CCC held its annual Service of Remembrance at the Blythe Memorial on 8thNovember, the anniversary of Blythe’s death, and this was as moving as ever. But it was watching the wonderful Peter Jackson film, They Shall Not Grow Old, on Remembrance Sunday evening that really hit home. One of the soldiers was quoted as saying that he did not fear death, because that would be quick and an end to it all. He feared injury, being broken and useless for the rest of his life, much more than death. It seems to me that though we quite rightly honour those who have made the ‘ultimate sacrifice’, we have not necessarily honoured those whose sacrifice may not have been so final but was at least as hard to bear, for both the soldiers and the families.

The one-Test wonder who went to war, but did not die, was Lt. Charles Stowell Marriott, known to his team mates and to a generation of Kent supporters as “Father”. His war story was told in Paul Lewis’ excellent book, For Kent and Country, and also in a recent Sunday Telegraph article, and it shows how the visible wounds are not always the deepest. Charles Marriott, a sickly boy who had been educated in Ireland in order to protect his health, was commissioned as a 2ndLieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, his county of birth, in 1915 and was posted to France the following year, aged 20.

On 1 July 1916, Marriott took part in the attack on Thiepval, a strategically important Belgian village, but the attackers were quickly caught in German machine gun fire. The slaughter was immense. Marriott, not part of that suicidal first wave, was ordered to take his men to the front line trench, as replacements for those who had just been cut down. As he later wrote, “Our scrambles were speeded by the German machine-gunners above, who weren’t missing much that morning. After all these years I can still clearly see certain gruesome sights, burnt into the memory, as we struggled up to the front line.” He wrote of “hands, feet and shin bones protruding from the raw earth” and a soldier, “sitting in as shell hole, hands on knees, a sandbag over his shoulder. I lifted it to see if he were alive, and he had no head.”

Marriott’s platoon was saved that day by a last minute order not to go over the top. His troubles were by no means over, however, and on 22 July, he was caught in a mustard gas attack near Nieuport. He was the only officer, along with a dozen men, who was hospitalized by the attack, and sent back to England. By November that year, he was diagnosed as suffering from what we would now know as shell shock. His active war service was over, but the effects lasted all his life.

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Charles “Father” Marriott

After the war, he went up to Cambridge, aged 25, and won his cricket blue as a leg-spinner in 1920 and 1921. Because he was several years older than his university team-mates, they christened him “Father”, a name which remained with him all his life. On graduation, he took up a teaching career at Dulwich College, and Lord Harris, who only a year or two earlier had prevented the Kent-born Wally Hammond from playing for Gloucestershire without the proper residential qualifications, was hoist with his own petard and had to wait before the Lancashire-born Marriott was allowed to play for Kent. Marriott went on to play 101 matches for Kent between 1924 and 1937, but his only appearance for England was against West Indies at the Oval in 1933. He took 5 for 37 and 6 for 59, but never played for England again. He was only picked for England as a replacement for the injured Hedley Verity (later to become a Second World War casualty), and his teaching career meant that he could never play a full season of cricket, and thus was unlikely to catch the selectors’ eye (or eyes). His career batting average of 4.41 and his fabled immobility in the field would not have helped, either. Marriott remains one of the select few regular first-class cricketers to have taken more wickets (711) than he scored runs (574). For Kent, he took 463 wickets and scored 356 runs.

When he died in 1966, aged 71, Wisden noted that during the Second World War “he served as an anti-aircraft gunner in the Home Guard”, but did not mention his service in the Great War.

Lest we forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fred ‘Nutty’ Martin – An Underrated Great

We have recently been asked, “Do you have any information or archive material re Fred “Nutty” Martin? I’m curious as to his history, and how his career evolved, as well as how he managed to get 12 wickets on his Ashes debut, and then get dropped? Thanks.”

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Fred Martin

Ah yes, Fred ‘Nutty’ Martin, an underrated Kent great, a left-arm bowler of the type that is all too rare these days. At the Heritage Trust we have plenty of information about Mr. Martin, but all too little archive material or memorabilia. A brief outline of his career, abridged from Derek Carlaw’s soon to be published Who’s Who of Kent Cricket, follows.

 Only eight bowlers have taken more wickets for Kent than Fred ‘Nutty’ Martin and of these, only Colin ‘Charlie’ Blythe and Percy ‘Tich’ Freeman did so at lower cost. For over a decade widely regarded as one of the best left-arm bowlers in England, he took 947 wickets for Kent, over 1,300 in all first-class cricket. When he was at his peak, England had more left-arm bowlers of quality than could be fitted into one Eleven (if only that were the case today!) but in his first and only Test match against Australia, at The Oval in 1890, Martin had his moment of glory, 12 for 102 and victory for England by two wickets. In that year he bowled 1,701 overs and claimed 190 wickets (ave.13.05). In 1892 Wisden made him one of their ‘Five Great Bowlers of the Year’.

In his early days Fred Martin bowled fast, or, more likely, as fast as he could, which is not quite the same thing but, according to his own account, he had “fallen into a way of bowling very slow” when he came to Kent. It was on the advice of fellow cricketers George Hearne and Jim Wootton that he switched to medium-pace.

At this distance in time it is impossible to determine whether Martin bowled orthodox finger-spin or cutters, possibly both. In more recent years we have seen Derek Underwood spin prodigiously at medium-pace and Martin’s method may not have been so very different. The difficulty is that when Victoria was Queen, writers tended to use the term ‘spin’ to indicate any deviation from straight. Even very fast bowlers such as Kortright, Tom Richardson or Kent’s Bill Bradley, are sometimes described as bowling with ‘plenty of spin’.

As a batsman, he was a prolific scorer in club cricket but for much of his career neither Kent nor MCC seem to have taken his batting seriously. As for his fielding, he seems to have been adequate by the not very demanding standards of the time. In photographs he looks to weigh rather more than the 12 stone four pounds (76.8 kg.) quoted in every Lillywhitefrom 1889 to 1899. He was certainly no greyhound, with his large drooping moustache, receding hairline and hint of a paunch. The exploits of the likes of Matt Henry and Ivan Thomas in the outfield in the 2018 season would have been entirely alien to him.

Frederick Martin was born in Dartford on 12thOctober 1861 to William and Ann Martin. His father was a ‘labourer in an ironworks,’ and both his grandfathers worked in the industry. Although none of his five brothers and two sisters displayed any interest in cricket, Fred played cricket with other boys on Dartford Brent before moving to the Darenth Vale Club and then to Dartford Albion. By 1882 his success began to attract notice, and his uncle Arthur Blackman,who had played as an amateur for Surrey, Kent and Sussex, used his contacts with Herbert Knatchbull Hugessen, long term member of the Kent committee and shortly to be President, to secure a place for his nephew in a forthcoming series of three Colts trial matches due to be played over a period of seven days in May. He did little to impress, but in 1884 he joined the St Lawrence Club in Canterbury. In his first season there he took over 100 wickets at around nine each, averaged 35 with the bat and hit two centuries. Next season he took 117 wickets, and in July he made an uneventful debut for Kent, v Sussex at Gravesend – 0 and 0 for 1 from one over.

His first three games for Kent in 1886 brought him just two wickets. Recalled to the side at the end of August, he responded with figures of 12 for 86 v Surrey at The Oval, 7 for 77 v Lancashire at Mote Park and 8 for 72 at Trent Bridge. 29 wickets at 10.44 placed him top of the Kent bowling averages. 1887 was disappointing with only 38 wickets, although it was the year he was capped by Kent and also the year he married his wife Esther at Bridge Parish Church. In 1888, he was paired with another left-armer, Walter Wright, for the first time and for half a dozen seasons these two would be the backbone of the Kent attack, delivering over two thirds of the overs bowled for the County between 1888 and 1891. Three times they bowled unchanged through a match, ten times through a complete innings.

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Walter Wright

1890 and 1891 were Martin’s best seasons, 190 wickets at 13.05 each in 1890, 105 of them for Kent, 140 at 13.77 in 1891, again 105 for Kent; top of the Kent averages in both seasons. In 1890, apart from his tour de force for England v Australia, he achieved his first hat-trick, and as icing on the seasonal cake, at Gloucester he bowled WG before he had scored.

When the team was to be selected for the Oval Test match against Australia in 1890, Lord Hawke, the supreme authority at Yorkshire, in a huff because Andrew Stoddart had opted to play for Middlesex at Bradford rather than for his country, refused to release Bobby Peel. The obvious replacement, Briggs, was injured and so the Surrey executive chose Fred Martin. He had already taken 32 wickets in four matches against the tourists.

With so many Australian wickets already under his belt Martin can hardly have lacked confidence on his Test debut and rain made conditions ideal for him. Bowling unchanged with Lohmann, bar six overs, he produced figures of 27-9-50-6 and 30.2-12-52-6. By the end of the season in seven games against the visitors, two each for Kent, MCC and South of England, one for England, he claimed 56 wickets at 11.51 each.  Seven times he took five in an innings, three times ten in a match and dismissed every member of the touring party (except Harry Boyle the manager who played occasionally) at least once. Oddly enough, he never seems to have seriously troubled the 1893 or 1896 teams.

Martin was never again picked for a Test match in England. Well as he had performed, this is not so very remarkable. Peel and Briggs were generally regarded as the best left-arm spinners in the country, both were genuine allrounders and better in the field, Briggs especially so. Martin did, however, receive one more England cap, albeit retrospectively. He was one of the team taken to South Africa by Walter Read in 1891/92 with an itinerary consisting, with one exception, entirely of matches against odds. The exception, against ‘An Eleven of South Africa’ at Cape Town, was subsequently upgraded to Test match status. Not called on to bowl in the first innings, Martin bowled unchanged in the second with Gloucestershire’s Australian John Ferris to dismiss the home side for 83 (Ferris 7 for 37, Martin 2 for 39).

In 1896 Kent acquired two amateur fast bowlers, Bill Bradley and Eustace Shine, which took some of the load from the professionals and Martin bowled more than 400 fewer overs than in 1895. Nevertheless, with 101 wickets at 21.15 apiece (79 at 20.48 for Kent) Martin passed the landmark 100 for the sixth and last time. Although more expensive than usual, on his day he was still a match winner. 1898 proved to be Fred Martin’s penultimate season with Kent. Although no longer likely to run through a good batting side, he was still economical and 73 wickets at 18.98 each (79 in all matches) placed him top of the Kent averages.

Some aspects of Fred Martin’s final season are unclear. According to Wisden he was ‘incapacitated for part of the season’. In fact, he played in every Kent game up to the end of July but in his final match, against Essex at Leyton he bowled only four overs. He missed his own benefit match, v Surrey in Canterbury Week, which in the event finished in two days.

Martin played no more for Kent, but played three first-class matches for MCC in 1900 and remained on the staff at Lord’s until 1908. In 1902 he was accepted on to the umpire’s list and between 1902 and 1906 stood in 50 first-class matches, but never in a Test match. He did not live to a great age. Despite apparently being in good health, Fred Martin died suddenly from a cerebral haemorrhage on 13 December 1921, in his home town of Dartford.

There remains the question of why Fred Martin was called ‘Nutty’. Martin himself apparently had no idea. The word was of course used to indicate ‘eccentric’ or worse, but Martin was not that type. In photographs of Martin in civilian clothes he looks what might have been called a bit ‘flash’. As a variant of ‘natty’, ‘nutty’ was at one time used to indicate ‘smart’ or ‘well turned out’. In one team photograph from 1898 he sports a broad brimmed hat, carries a smart cane and looks the personification of a Parisian boulevardier.Maybe that is where the ‘Nutty’ came from.

To add to the puzzle, Frank Reginald Martin, the Jamaican opening batsman who toured England with West Indies in 1928 and 1933 and played nine Test matches was also known as ‘Nutty’, without being particularly ‘natty’ to look at. J.W. ‘Young Jack’ Hearne, another always well turned out, was also seemingly known as ‘Nutty’.

Your guess is as good as ours.

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DECISIONS, DECISIONS!

One thing about having a collection of memorabilia, portraits, cups, books, blazers and cricket balls – along with all the other strange objects that have over the years attached themselves to Kent County Cricket Club – is that decisions have to be made about what to collect, what to keep and what to dispose of.

Some things are obviously an essential part of the collection. We have to have the trophies we have won over the years, the ball that Tich Freeman used to destroy an unfortunate eleven in the 1930s, the scorebook showing W.G. Grace’s 344 not out for M.C.C. against Kent, and a complete set of Kent “Blue Book” annuals. We have to keep photographs of winning teams, autographed scorecards and one of the plates manufactured to celebrate Colin Cowdrey’s one hundred hundreds. Decisions on those items are simple: they are part of the fabric of Kent’s cricketing heritage and they belong in our collection.

But when we come to some other items, we have to consider carefully whether they ought to be preserved. How do we decide what should be in our collection and what should not? What is surplus to requirements and what do we absolutely have to keep? And what is missing from the collection that we really ought to have?

The first decision is that we are only interested in things that are relevant to Kent cricket. We then add a few peripherals, like our complete set of Wisdens, but in general we can be ruthless about anything that is not part of Kent’s cricket heritage. For this reason, we held a very successful sale of second-hand books during the summer, including several copies of Dickie Bird’s autobiography, and will probably repeat the exercise next year. It also means that we are less interested in, for example, Colin Cowdrey’s England blazer than his Kent cap. The best place for England cricket memorabilia is Lord’s, but we hope that everybody will agree that the best place for Kent memorabilia is the Spitfire Ground in Canterbury (and Beckenham, too).

The next decision to be made is regarding the definition of “Kent cricket”. We have decided that we are dealing with the heritage of all cricket played in Kent, since the first mentions of the game around 400 years ago. We obviously concentrate most of our attention on the men’s game at professional level, but we are also trying to build up the collection of club and league cricket memories, as well as items connected to the women’s game which, beginning with the fabled Christina Willes two centuries ago, is now a thriving and successful part of our cricket story. All donations gratefully received!

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E.H.V. Weigall

The collection should not just be a collection of bats with which centuries were made, or balls with which hat-tricks were taken: we have plenty of them and although we will always accept more, there is much more to our heritage than that. What about the coloured kits that our white-ball cricketers have been wearing over the seasons? Should we not have a complete collection of them, for the record if nothing else. Some of our kits have been quite smart, and some have been truly disastrous, but they all have a place in our collection. This leads on to another point, one of aesthetic taste. Even though one item may be less pleasing to the eye than another, it does not mean it is less worthy of a place in our collection.

Which brings us on to our collection of paintings. There are in the Long Room of the Chiesman Pavilion two paintings which illustrate the point. The first is the painting that takes pride of place on the back wall of the pavilion, a portrait of our 1946 President, E.H.V. Weigall, by his father, the noted portrait painter Henry Weigall. This is a good quality painting of an average quality player. Evelyn Weigall played just one first-class match, for his much more talented brother Gerry Weigall’s XI against Cambridge University in 1908. He made 0 and 14 and did not take a wicket in 13 overs of right-arm medium pace, but he served on our county committees with distinction before being elected President in 1946. He sadly became one of a handful to die in office, at the age of 70. The question is, should this comparatively unknown Kent stalwart take pride of place on the pavilion wall, just because it is a pretty good portrait? For the time being, we answer yes.

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George Marsham

We have recently been given a portrait of an earlier Kent President, one George Marsham, who played three times for Kent in 1876 and 1877, as a wicket-keeper. He batted at number 11, and conceded more byes (58) in his first-class career than he scored runs (36). He had a long and distinguished career on the Kent committee, and became President in 1886, when he was 36 years old. The problems with his portrait are many. Firstly, it is of such a size (5′ x 6′) that there is no suitable wall to hang it on. Secondly, it is in such poor condition (it was rescued from a building about to be demolished) that an expert’s estimate is that it would cost about £3,000 to repair, and thirdly, it is not a particularly good portrait anyway. So we have decided against keeping it. This may be hard on George Marsham, whose nephew C.H.B. “Slug” Marsham led Kent with distinction in the early years of the last century, but his is not the first painting to have been disposed of by the Club.

The famous “Kent v Lancashire 1906” painting by Albert Chevallier Tayler – which incidentally includes Slug Marsham – was sold by the Club twelve years ago because it had become too expensive to insure. Before it was sold, a copy was made by the brilliant copyist Barrington Bramley and it is that painting which now hangs on the same wall as E.H.V. Weigall in the pavilion. It is probably the most valuable painting in our collection, even though it is a copy. The original sold for around £600,000, making it at that time the most expensive cricket painting in the world. If you want to see it now, you need to go to Lord’s, where it hangs in the pavilion.

So the Kent collection is growing, but along carefully defined lines. All we need now is enough space to display it all!

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