Le Playfair nouveau est arrive*


Playfair 2010

Delighted to find this morning that this year’s Playfair is in the shops.  If Wisden is the cricketer’s bible, then I suppose Playfair is the trusty pocket prayerbook that so often stops the sniper’s bullet.  Spring is here, and I can now get round to planning my season in earnest.  (If anyone’s planning a big wash day or a trip to the seaside on Friday, by the way, I’d make other arrangements, if I were you.  I’ve taken the day off work to watch Leicestershire v Northants, so I expect it will rain). 

I’m pleased to say that, at first glance, the new editor (Ian Marshall, who I see lives in Eastbourne) hasn’t been tempted to go in for too much new broomism, following the death of Bill Frindall .  It looks and feels pretty much the same as always, though I’m sad to see that it no longer contains the fixtures for Minor Counties and 2nd XI cricket.  I don’t often get to see a lot of either, but they do offer a potential refuge for those of us who prefer the longer form of the game, and the chance to visit a few of our more picturesque grounds.

Can’t help noticing the following too, from the Editor’s foreword –

“The records section now include matches involving multinational teams and those where the sides tossed up but the players did not take the pitch.”

Poor old B.F., who held strong views on this matter, would not be pleased, though I suspect Ian Marshall has been wanting to do it for years.

 * sorry, Francophones, still can’t find the accents …

Well hit! Sir : E.H.D. Sewell

Did manage to pick up today – during the lunch interval – a new book, with the above title.

The author – E.H.D. Sewell – was previously unknown to me*, though he appears also to be the author of  ” Who’s won the toss?”, “An outdoor Wallah” amd “Rugger, the Man’s Game”.  The first paragraph promises a spendidly individual production:

“From where I’m sitting the sky looks as though it had just come back from the wash.  Hence, Cricket must be in the air; and in ‘the chill cloudy comfortless evening of Life’ as J0nathan Oldbuck phrases the period after the sun of one’s summer has set, the best thing to do is talk, or to write about, Cricket.  In order to set one’s ganglions a-thrumming again.  Even though the tempo of the thrum may not be very fierce.”   

This, I fancy, is the authentic Backwaterman tone avant la lettre.

*That miracle, Cricinfo, provides the following illumination –

SEWELL, MR. EDWARD HUMPHREY DALRYMPLE, well known for many years as a cricket and Rugby football journalistic reporter, died on September 21, aged nearly 75. Born in India, where his father was an Army officer, he was educated at Bedford Grammar School, captaining the cricket and Rugby teams and playing for Bedfordshire County. In a curiously varied life he returned to India as a civil servant, and his very powerful hitting enabled him to make many big scores at an exceptional rate of scoring. The first batsman in India to make three consecutive hundreds, he also twice exceeded 200. Sometimes he enjoyed the advantage of having Ranjitsinhji for captain. Coming back to England, he joined the Essex County Club as a professional, and met with considerable success, notably in 1904 at Edgbaston, where, with Bob Carpenter, he shared in an opening stand of 142. He used to relate that the partnership lasted only sixty-five minutes–he was first out for 107; but, as he added, They didn’t give prizes for the fastest century in those days. The time was given officially as eighty minutes. In 1904, for London County, captained by W. G. Grace, he played his highest innings in first-class cricket, 181, against Surrey at Crystal Palace; one of his on-drives off Lockwood measured 140 yards. He punished moderate bowling in matches of minor class with merciless severity. Whitgift School suffered especially when, at Croydon for M.C.C., he hit up 142 out of 162 in fifty minutes, and again at The Oval, where for Wanderers he hit three 6’s and nineteen 4’s while scoring 108. After being a coach at The Oval, he became honorary secretary to the Buckinghamshire Club and played for the County as an amateur. He bowled medium pace with marked effect against any batsmen but the best, and fielded with dash and certainty. During recent years he attended every match of importance at Lord’s, having a regular seat in the Long Room, where he was often the centre of discussions on the game he loved and knew so thoroughly. He gave practical evidence of this in several books – From a Window at Lord’s, The Log of a Sportsman and Who Won the Toss being the best known. He played Rugby football for Blackheath and Harlequins; put the shot 37 feet and threw the cricket ball 117 yards at athletic sports meetings. ”
Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack