The correspondents of The Times found the first full weekend of the season a universally unpleasant experience. John Woodcock, at Lord’s for MCC v Yorkshire, found it “vilely cold, disagreeably noisy and intermittently wet”. The noise was from the building of the new Tavern Stand (the one before the present structure), which had displaced Sir Neville Cardus from his usual place on the promenade, forcing him to “sit huddled on the pavilion balcony”.
Alan Gibson never much enjoyed Derby, where he saw the home side beat Leicestershire. His nemesis PJK Gibbs opened the batting for Derbyshire but escaped individual censure as the scoring rate remained at two an over throughout. Play was interrupted by “a thick sleet near enough to snow to satisfy a journalist’s conscience”.
Snow also stopped play at Trent Bridge, where AA Thomson reported that the players “might have been emerging from an igloo rather than a pavilion”. The game was an attritional, low-scoring draw. Kent’s first innings 169 left them three short of a first-innings lead, so Nottinghamshire took the four points that went with that. The home side set Kent 174 to win, but they managed only 36 for four between the snow showers.
Nottinghamshire were in a slump in the mid-sixties. They had finished bottom of the Championship in 1965 and 1966 and had the look of a team cobbled together from cast-offs and the discontented. They were led by Norman Hill, the closest rival to Colin Milburn for the title of England’s most rotund cricketer. AA Thomson reports that in the second innings “Hill advanced with what seemed undue deliberation towards his 50”.
Other than that, Nottinghamshire’s best performers were their two West Indians, Deryck Murray and Carlton Forbes. Murray kept wicket for the West Indies in 62 tests and is remembered as a Warwickshire player for several years in the seventies. He also had a couple of seasons at Trent Bridge as a batsman, (Roy Swetman kept wicket), topping the county’s averages in 1966 after coming down from Cambridge, where he had been captain. Later in life Murray represented Trinidad at the United Nations.
Forbes, a Jamaican, bowled left-arm pace for Nottinghamshire for more than a decade, taking 707 wickets as well as being a handy lower order hitter. His seven for 58 here launched him towards a hundred wickets for the season for the second successive year, a fine effort for a poor team.
Basharat Hassan, of the angular batting stance, made his debut, beginning a decade of conscientious service to the county. The Nottinghamshire side also included Mike Taylor, later of Hampshire and twin brother of Derek Taylor who kept wicket for Somerset.
For Kent, John Shepherd made a Championship debut with the sort of performance that would be repeated over and over through the following 15 seasons, with three for 53 and a 55 that Wisden describes as “defiant”. Kent’s outstanding player was Norman Graham, whose breakthrough season this was to be. His match figures were 8 for 103, the responsive pitch ideal for Graham’s forensic probing from a great height.
As I wrote in the introductory piece, this project will keep an eye on what else was happening on these days fifty years ago, and will expand on some of the events referred to on Twitter (@kentccc1967). Saturday was FA Cup semi-final day, with both games kicking off at 3 pm along with the Football League programme. Geoffrey Green’s description of Jimmy Greaves’ goal for Tottenham against Nottingham Forest matches a great writer with a great footballer.
In the wider world, showing that there is nothing new under the sun, the big political issue was Europe (Brentry rather than Brexit). The cartoon shows, left to right, James Callaghan (Chancellor of the Exchequer), George Brown (Foreign Secretary), Denis Healey (Defence), Harold Wilson (PM) and Douglas Jay (Board of Trade).
The location of the third London airport was exercising the letter writers. Air Commodore JE Allen-Jones wrote to The Times to promote the Isle of Sheppey in Kent as the best location for an airport that could handle the 900-seater jets that would be the norm very soon.