The Best Day of the Year – Probably

Third Man is about his cottage early this morning moving the clocks forward.  There is a spring in his feet.  After all these years this day in March remains the best day of the year. Young people everywhere will have an extra hour of daylight to finish their games of cricket tonight.

To the Green beneath Beacon Hill we would go, the Danes, that is Mark left arm slow and Peter the acrobatic ‘keeper, Sam Eddings right hand bat, Bunny Burnell off-spin, Rob Barnard right hand bat, Richard McIlwaine,  right arm rapid and Third Man jack of all trades, to chalk fresh stumps against a wall and start their new season.

But Backwatersman has reminded him  that this is an inaccurate recollection. 

This should have read: To the Green that afternoon strode Sainsbury, Harrison, Marshall, Burden, cousin Barnard, Shackleton, and Livingston.  Hampshire claimed the extra hour to beat Kent despite a fine and inevitable century by Cowdrey.

In Yorkshire and Lancashire streets free of traffic became Headingleys and Old Traffords.  In Guildford, Taunton and Market Harborough odd sets of stumps were pitched or jerseys piled high in parks where matches with sides that fluctuated in numbers from three to thirty three were played until darkness finally settled the score.

Yes, in the year Twenty10 in Nottingham, Chewton Magna and Hartlepool, Tendulkas will play with Pietersens, Lees with Gibbs, Sangakkaras with Gayles.  The shots will be outrageously daring, the actions suspect, but the game will be the game.

IPL administrators, umpires, players and commentators carry huge responsibilities.  Like it or not the fate of our game is in their hands and it will be the spirit expressed by these wonderful players, facilitated by the administrators and guarded by the umpires; the comradeship, the enjoyment, the mutual respect that they all display over these six long weeks; that will matter.

The signs are good not bad.  The signs would be better were sides to include good players from Pakistan.  

As Yeats commanded, so all lovers of cricket command of them; ‘Tread softly because you tread on our dreams’.


Filed under Light roller

4 responses to “The Best Day of the Year – Probably

  1. Anthony Harckham

    Was not Henry Horton, the great uncoiler, the straightest bat ever played?

    • Anthony,
      There is a touch of Arlott in your precise and vivid description of Henry Horton as the Great Uncoiler. Thank you for it.
      In fact Arlott described him as “what country folk call a ‘straight man’.” For those who never saw him, there may have been a twinkle in Arlott’s eyes when using this description because ‘H’ as he was known had a stance like a suppressed coil, just as you say.
      Boys in Hampshire during the Age of Horton may not have hero worshipped him but all will have tried out that stance and all will have been grateful many times for his reliability, especially when Marshall had perished early.
      For the record: Henry Horton scored over 1,000 runs in 12 consecutive seasons from 1955 to 1966. He scored 2,000 runs in 1959, 1960 1961 and was 23 runs short of 2,000 in 1962.
      Whoever wrote up his life at Cricinfo clearly loved him dearly if the length and care and content of that contribution is anything to go by.
      Best wishes for the season.

      • The Cricinfo on Horton is indeed wonderfully complete. I enjoyed watching him through the last six or seven years of his career – it’s an amazing thought that he scored over 20,000 runs for Hampshire all over the age of thirty. He had a reputation for being solid/obdurate but Jimmy Gray (who should know better than most) told me once that while Roy Marshall was the great FIRST innings opener (covered/uncovered wickets) Henry Horton was the Hampshire batsmen best suited to a run chase.

        (Then there’s Sam Eddings who spent the cricket season of 1968 as a pop group drummer. I can’t imagine anyone less ‘swinging sixties’ than Henry Horton!)

  2. PompeyPop,
    You should of course know all about the drumming of Sam Eddings in th late Sixties as you heard it close up.
    Did you also know that Sam featured on the 999 television programme which reconstructed a rescue in which he landed his helicopter on a narrow sea wall during a ragging high tide and within feet of huge chalk cliff walls to rescue someone who had fallen from the cliff?
    He seemed totally unaware of the bravery and skill de demonstrated.
    Cricket is character forming (as it is sometime character destroying).

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