With The Benefit Of Hindsight … : Looking forward to a new season

A month or so before the season starts, which ought to be a time for cautious optimism.  Here we see our local groundsman optimistically mowing the pitch during a brief spell of sunshine last weekend, before the foul weather returned.

Little Bowden Rec

It is also traditionally a time for cautious pessimism about the future of County Cricket.

Would anyone care to hazard a date for this (from “The Times“)?

County Cricket on Trial

From A Correspondent

The cricket season proper opened quietly on Saturday, and the very fact that several counties are changing their usual programme and starting games on Wednesdays and Saturdays, instead of Mondays and Thursdays, proves that the public are, at last, to be recognised rather than the players.  Whether the experiment makes for the good of the game is a moot point; and whether it will “draw” the apparently reluctant public is another.

This season sees county cricket trembling in the balance, for without popular support it must die.  Cricket is voted dull nowadays because there are not the overwhelming personalities on every county side that spectators have been accustomed to in great matches.

Unfortunately, at the present moment there does not seem to be the same “county spirit” as there used to be.  Perhaps it is owing to the fact that people have to work more strenuously than they had to 20 years ago.  They are still keen to know how the cricket of the day is going, but they do not turn up in numbers, and numbers mean gate-money, and gate-money means everything to a county.

First class cricket is no spectacular game now; nor can it ever be again … “

And so on.  With a few minor tweaks, it could be from any Spring in the last hundred years, but is actually from May 1914.  But, however gloomy “A Correspondent” may have felt about the future of County Cricket at the time of writing, what wouldn’t he have given to have been in a position to write something similar the following year and what a joy it must have been to be able to settle down in the Spring of 1919 to bash out once again his old familiar Jeremiad! (“2 Day Cricket Not the Solution!“)

Having said that, not all Cricket Correspondents allowed the small matter of a World War to interrupt their enjoyment of the game, as this curious photograph demonstrates.  This is the irrepressible E.H.D. Sewell, sometime ghost to W.G., inventor of leg-slip and author of “Rugger : the man’s game“.  The original caption reads “The author – muzzled at last!  A memory of 1916, when we were told to take gas masks (?) to matches.”

"Muzzled at last!" E.H.D. Sewell (1916)

(I have to say that doesn’t look much like a gas mask to me, or at least not a very effective one.  Only goes to show the lengths some people will go to get a game of cricket, I suppose.)

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