Sunday, September 10, 2017

Kent win the Gillette Cup, Yorkshire are champions: 2 to 8 September 1967

I’ll be writing separately about the Gillette Cup final. My first visit to Lord’s, and Kent’s first trophy since the First World War, are worth special commemoration, fifty years on. 

The other prize of the week—the only other one available in domestic cricket in 1967—went to Yorkshire, who were assured of the title when Mike Bissex was leg before to Don Wilson to secure first-innings lead. Raymond Illingworth took 14 for 64, all on the second (and final) day. He was on a hat-trick three times, which may be a record.  The match was played at Harrogate, one of seven venues used by Yorkshire for their Championship programme.

So, as it turned out, I had seen the first day of the Championship decider, the game at Canterbury a month or so earlier. Had Kent won that one, the Championship pennant would have flown over Kentish fields three years earlier than it actually did. Had Underwood, Knott and Cowdrey not all been suddenly picked by England…(let it go, just let it go).

Arthur Milton was playing for Gloucestershire in that game. He only scored 38 in the game, but that was enough to make him leading run scorer in first-class cricket, with 2,089 from 49 innings, even more of an achievement as it was made for the bottom county. Milton’s story has been well recorded. He was the last double cricket/football England international. These days, he could open a bank on the back of that, but not then. When when he finished playing sport Milton became a postman, and he enjoyed it so much that when they told him he had to retire he took up paper rounds that covered the same route.

Keith Fletcher and Ron Headley both went to the crease 58 times in first-class matches, both joining 68 other batsmen in passing the thousand mark. Mike Buss of Sussex achieved this at the lowest average: 21.46. 

Tom Cartwright bowled most overs (1,194) and took most wickets (147). In common with eight others in the top 21 of the averages, he conceded under two runs an over. 

A comparison of the first-class averages of 1967 and 2016 shows how much the balance of the game has swung towards the bat (then a slender thing that could be comfortably lifted in one hand and would last for several seasons). Ken Barrington’s 68.84 would have put him in fifth place on 2016. But Barrington was 14 ahead of second-placed Denis Amiss, whose 54.41 would have left him one place short of the top twenty. 

The reverse is true of the bowling, of course. Jimmy Anderson’s top-placed 17.00 would have only got him to No 13 in ’67. There were only three bowling averages under 20 last year (one of which was by Viljoen of Kent, who I’ve never heard of); there were ten times as many in the summer of love. 

The Scarborough Festival, summer’s death rattle for so many years, featured an England XI playing the Rest of the World. These games were an end-of-season feature for several years in the mid-sixties. They were of historical significance for several reasons. When in 1970 the tour by South Africa was cancelled at the last moment, the concept of a Rest of the World team was there waiting, ready to fill the void. The Rest of the World also played a one-day round robin, grandly if hyperbolically called the “World Cup”, of which more next week. 

There is also the composition of the team. Graham McKenzie of Australia, the rest an equal mix of West Indians and South Africans, at a time when apartheid made such a mix illegal had the game taken place within the jurisdiction of the apartheid government. So the opening partnership of 187 between Eddie Barlow and Seymour Nurse was nicely symbolic and would have spoiled Dr Vorster’s breakfast the following morning. 

Barlow made another ninety in the second innings, sharing a partnership of 118 with Rohan Kanhai, who “played, as so often, as though he could have batted with one hand” wrote AA Thomson. England were set 373 in five hours, a target that no England side, official or unofficial, would have contemplated going for in 1967 in any circumstances other than a festival match. John Edrich made an aggressive 87 but Lance Gibbs induced a collapse to 179 for six. However, the Middlesex pair of Murray and Titmus continued to be attacking in a stand of 112 in under two hours to save the game. Thirty thousand spectators watched over the three days and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, though they may have wondered why this sort of enterprise could not be seen other than by the seaside in September. 

It was the first time that world outside Guyana became aware of Clive Lloyd. He looked like a short-sighted librarian who had absentmindedly wandered onto the field, but then there would be a blur as he covered an unreasonable amount of ground with two of three strides, then the stumps would be in disarray, the batsman bemused in mid-pitch, wondering what had just happened.

Outside cricket, Barry Davies, then commentating for Granada and writing for The Times, reported confusion over the new four-steps rule for goalkeepers. Did the counting start when they first touched the ball, or when they picked it up?

Alan Gibson switched effortlessly to rugby for the winter, starting with this report, which may have been more entertaining than the match it described (a goal, by the way, is a converted try, with a try worth only three points).

Mr Gilbert Clark of Fishponds in Bristol discovered that his late wife had left their house to a dog’s home. A trusting man, he believed that his wife had taken this action in the belief that she would outlive him. I’m not so sure. He kept the house but it cost him £1,000 for a dog ambulance. A grand would have been a fair slice out of the value of a Fishponds residence in 1967.

Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket

In the same package as this year’s Wisden , there arrived Arlott, Swanton and the Soul of English Cricket , co-authored by Stephen Fay ...