Tag Archives: Lancashire County Cricket Club

Bowman of Bowland, Oxford and Lancashire

Not as old as it looks - 1964 match to celebrate Lancashire's Centenary. Sir Frank Worrell, Brian Close, Dennis Compton and other immortals can just be made out from this snap taken on a phone in the Gentleman's Lavatory of the Inn at Whitewell - the Queen's Pub

Hurrah!  The rain has stopped.  Clitheroe’s match on Saturday was uninterrupted and often played in that rare commodity, sunshine.  The wicket was more like one to be found in April, though there is still a hosepipe ban imposed by United Utilities.  Clitheroe won and remain on the top of the Ribblesdale League, which still seems a strange thing to say after their pitiful performance last year – plus ca meme chose plus c’est la difference ?  

Third Man’s son made his debut as an opener and posted 60.  Here is the result of the cap taken round for him by the shy but affable Josh Marquet.   £22 pounds or so.  Hard work against a Kewi pro and a Derby IIs tweaker with a ‘modern’ action.

The sun shone yesterday (Sunday) and the grass was cut.  Strangely dressed persons started arriving at the Cottage at 7.00pm.  All was explained when Third Man was ushered out of his home so as not to get in the way of a Murder Detective dinner being held by his daughter and her friends, who are trying desperately to distract themselves from the inevitability of Thursday’s A level results.

He was persuaded by the promise of a portion of fish pie at The Inn at Whitewell which would tempt anyone out on a sunny Sunday evening – orders until 9.30 pm.

The Inn is on the other side of Longridge Fell (the most southerly use of the word fell in the country) which is ‘traversed’ by way of Jeffery Hill and which offers spectacular views stretching from the Fylde coast to the Trough of Bowland.   The Bowland Fells fill the view.

Farmers in the Trough were taking advantage of the sun and contractors’ tractors mowed the small fields into those familiar striated patterns.  The drone of their machinery had filled the day and would continue through the night.

Down from the fell, the lanes to the Inn follow the course of the Hodder which eventually passes through a narrow gap (the gullet of the trough) at Whitewell which is therefore overlooked on all sides by uplands.

The Inn itself and the surrounding estate is part of the Duchy of Lancaster, which means that this is the Queen’s pub.  She is the Landlord, though Gore Smith manage it for her.  Speculation surfaces now and then that somewhere around here will one day become a very special Retirement Home, but that is usually when someone else wants to sell their nearby home whose value they believe could be enhanced by the quality of the neighbours.  But think of the security, dear.

Whilst waiting a while at the summit of Jeffery Hill and taking in the whole panorama it occurred to Third Man that the Trough is a trough indeed for cricket.  He knows of no cricket team in Dunsop Bridge, Slaidburn or Newton-in-Bowland.  

Then he remembered that the Inn at Whitewell had been the “mission to eradicate pomposity and pretension from fine living while taking care not to sacrifice style, comfort and, above all, humour.” of Richard (Dick) Bowman who played 26 first class matches principally in 1957 when he received his Blue for Oxford.

The Inn is exactly as Third Man imagines Squire Weston’s pile to have been.  It sits on a sweep kink of the Hodder and there is a terrace on which the intrepid can eat outside.  Inside are a myriad of rooms each with their own personality and each with their own open wood fires.  The floors are stone and dogs are welcome.  In fact a dog can be provided for those who forgot to bring their own – you know the type of place.

The Bowman humour is still in evidence five years after his death.  The rear end of a fox disappears through a cupboard door high above a passageway that leads to the lavatories.

The Gentleman’s Lavatory has alas been modernised in recent times but was once a homage to the Sixties, to Bowman’s cricketing and school activities and indirectly and, in a way that TM cannot explain, to James Bond.   He seems to remember that the walls were pasted not with wall paper but with newspapers from that decade.

The best of the cricketing and other ephemera remain:  a photograph and scorecard of a match to celebrate the Centenary of Lancashire CCC in which Bowman sits with Sir Frank Worrell, Brian Close, Denis Compton and other immortals;  the scorecard of Essex v Oxford University (probably 1957) in which Bowman, coming in at number 9, made 75, having previously taken 7 for 60 in the Essex innings.

He must therefore have been in good form as he went on from Chelmsford to Lord’s and the ‘Varsity Match’ where he toiled through 39 overs and defeat by an innings.

Bowman used to patrol the Inn and light the place up with his smile, good humour, infectious welcome and a rhubarb and custard tie.  It is therefore odd to find this one photograph of him at Cricinfo with only a trace of that smile.

As TM returned home to creep up and spook the dinner party like a real murderer, the contractors were still going strong, the headlights on their tractors lighting up the fields and an exactly half moon hanging above the Irish Sea directly over the Isle of Man.

(more photographs later – what a promise!)


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T20: Pow? Crash? Bang? Is there really no alternative?

It is possible that two thousand people made their way to Old Trafford last night lured there by this advertisement on Lancashire’s web site or by some other tripe hype.

It was a Wednesday evening.  It was very, very cold and blustery.  Earlier in the day the prospects for play had seemed uncertain.  And Lancashire were playing Northants.  But the numbers paying at the gates must have been a disappointment to the authorities. 

Where was the 'buzz' yesterday at Old Trafford?

The throng is part of the T20 experience.  There would seem to be a minimum density of crowd and intensity of ‘buzz’ below which a significant part of the attraction is removed.  It is obvious, but it needs saying, the fewer the people attending the weaker the draw of the event.    

Picture Window: the view from the indoor school

Third Man deposited his son at the indoor school which offered those who did not wish to venture outside this view of proceedings.

He then made his way round to the Pavilion to catch a dozen or so overs of the Lancashire innings.

In truth, the experience was not very enjoyable.  The weather must make a huge difference which raises the question:  in time, will Clubs that enjoy warmer evenings attract greater crowds, make more money at the gate and the bars, buy in better players and increase their chances of winning more cash and gaining access to international competitions?

Local Hero in Vermilion

However, the effectiveness of imported players is proving questionable.  In cricket jet-lag now measures the time between the arrival of a visiting international BSD and his first match winning performance.

It is also redefining what is meant by affinity. This report of the match at Cricinfo makes an unintended point: “Northants openers Loye (ex-Lancs, TM) and Lou Vincent, the club’s stand-in overseas signing, took the score to 23 after two overs of their reply. Vincent, who spent the latter half of the 2008 season at Old Trafford, has signed for the Steelbacks for 10 days until Zimbabwean Elton Chigumbura arrives.” 

It was good therefore to see the young and HOME GROWN Tom Smith make a fluent and untroubled 67 off 47 balls. 

The performances of home grown talent are inspiring to the three most likely ‘audiences’ making up the support on the night: youngsters who can dream of following in the footsteps of these ‘local heroes’; those going after work or as part of some hospitality package who can identify with players with a similar (in this case) Lancastrian approach to life, and older supporters who can take pride in their club fulfilling the higher purpose of producing good players for the game and its history. 

So do we really need expensive international itinerants either to win matches or to draw crowds?  The marketing of these matches could equally well centre upon the lives, progress and performance of local ‘lads’ like Smith and Simon Kerrigan who in the Northants innings took 3 for 17 in his four overs. 

Climbing Pro-Cricket's Ladder

Two further observations:

1.         The training bike has given way to the ladder as a means of releasing tension and keeping muscles warm.

2.         The deflected sweep, the flicks over either shoulder and the switch hit are now the main ways batsmen score.  These shots demand skilful and brave batting. 

Pace bowlers are finding it hard to counter them, but this change in the balance of power between batsman and paceman further enhances the attractions of spin.

Debt in deflationary times is a dangerous thing.  Treasurers and Chief Executives will be keeping an anxious eye on the gates.   Last night’s attendance suggests that the honeymoon is over.  There already needs to be a new reason to watch Twenty20.  Could that also be a new meaning for affinity marketing?

For the scores on the doors click here.

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The Corporal Deiderski Stand?

At Old Trafford yesterday evening, The Big Red One was glowing in the reflected light of the setting sun.  Third Man took the photograph below to show progress on its construction.  

The Big Red One - 14th April 2010. Always on the look for innovations, the authorities at Old Trafford were the first to use a rope to mark the boundary.

It does tend to dwarf the 1894 Pavilion which in its time provided some of the very best facilities for players, with no less than three baths in the Amateurs’ dressing room.

1894 meets Twenty10 - during the First World War the Pavilion was used as a military hospital. In the Second World War a sentry stationed by the main gate was killed by bombing - the only major cricket ground where a soldier has has been killed on active duty.

There are plans to raise the height of the Pavilion and to build another Big Red One on the other side.

The Twenty20 Match Day Experience

Third Man has learnt from I.A.R Peebles (The Watney Book of Test Match Grounds) that the décor of Old Trafford has traditionally been colourful.

On Capture, Corporal Deiderski of Rommel’s Africa Corp, found himself by a circuitous route in a prisoner of war camp in Cheshire.  When the war was over he stayed there and, after marrying a local ‘lass’, moved to Manchester to practice his trade as a painter and decorator.

As Peebles tells it, “His exceptional talents caught the eye of that enterprising Secretary, Geoffrey Howard, and he set to work to enliven the sober colour scheme of Old Trafford.  The result was most cheerful and stimulating, with benches bursting out in all manner of brilliant hues and notices, directing the way to mundane destinations, beautifully scribed on miniature signposts.”

Is it too much to hope that the authorities might consider naming this most cheerful and stimulating addition to their famous ground, The Corporal Deiderski Stand?

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