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REPORT ON VISIT TO SOMERSET CCC September 3, 2013


I doubled up to attend the unveiling of the plaque for Eric Hill, who worked for seventy years as a journalist and broadcaster, played for the county and was a WW11 hero (being awarded the DFC and DFM), and also saw the latest plans for Somerset CCC media centre. There were a dozen members who went to the function, followed by lunch and there were two outstanding speeches from Richard Latham and chairman Pat Gibson. Eric was 87 and one of his finest achievements was to locate Tirpitz in a fjord in Norway to photograph it while his Mosquito was under constant attack from German aircraft.

Guy Lavender, Somerset's CEO, is one of the new breed of CEOs in cricket - young, fit looking and full of energy and ideas. A former Army officer, he has a similar background to Richard Gould, his predecessor. Guy showed me the new plans and they look very impressive. The idea of having a hotel or corporate rooms which could house a temporary press box has been dropped. For the first time since I have been doing this job the print media press box is going to be at the top, above the Sky floor. Sky reckoned it would be too high for their camera angles. It won't be too high for us - ideal in fact.

There will be a 35 seat press box on one side, a permanent structure, and when an ODI or a big event is planned, three biggish rooms will be opened up for the print media. Between the floors, they intend to have an open air area which their members can use for drinks etc, similar to the new one at the pavilion of Lord's.

The Media Centre is behind the arm on the same side of the old press box and sun may pose problems but at that height, there should be no problems about people moving around in the box. David Lloyd -ours, not Sky's - raised the point about Wifi not being perfect in the old press box but Sally Donoghue, the Operations Manager, thought there were no problems when thirty Australian journalists covered their match. That's a point to take up when we meet Guy next season.

Incidentially, Somerset now have one of the best cricket museums, housed in one of Taunton's oldest buildings. A member left them a lot of money and they have refurbished it and are building up an interesting stock of memorabilia.

At the time of writing Somerset face being relegated but they will press on their redevelopment regardless.


By Brian Scovell, Chairman of CWC Facilities Committee

 

REPORT FROM BRIAN SCOVELL ON GLOUCESTERSHIRE'S NEW MEDIA CENTRE


After Bristol City Council approved the redevelopment in 2010, the club announced that the work would be competed in May 2013. But changes concerning the building of the 147 flats delayed the work on Part One and Tom Richardson, the club's secretary, invited me to see the new pavilion costing 4m which houses the media centre.

It looks good. It is behind the arm and the press box which is above the players' accommodation is at an optimum height, not too high and not too low. They are using the same method at the Ageas Bowl. The high ceilinged room is going to be used normally for functions but with international matches five rows of twenty seats will be put up, ensuring that everyone has a proper view of the whole of the ground. In front, there are 175 seats outside, presumably to be used for corporates outside of big matches.

With the sun coming from the rear there will be no problem about glare. Unlike Sophia Gardens, there won't be any struts to block anyone's viewing because they are using thin ones. Asked about the risk of broken windows, Peter Hall, the Ground Operations Manager, said "There are hundreds of windows from the flats as well as those in the media centre and the pavilion and the builders say they used toughened glass to withstand being hit by a ball but cannot guarantee a window or two might be broken."

Wi-Fi and cable is being installed and two TV screens have been placed on either side. I pointed out that the screens need to be higher, not ground level, and also several could be put along the top of the windows (viz Lord's except the locals will be able to see what is going on unlike Lord's). The adequately sized media room is at the rear and it will be used for meals and refreshments - served from a kitchen alongside and from a bar - and it will double up with for interviewing purposes later in the day. The players come up from the stairs on the right straight into the room. Two lifts are in close proximity and the day before I came one broke down, was repaired and then broke down again. "Teething problems" said Peter. Three toilets are close by.

There are three reasonably sized studios for radio purposes and for normal county matches one will be used for the written press. I reminded Peter that lockers are needed, also hangers, and he said he would make a note of it. As for parking they will have around 400 spaces, much of it coming from the former orphans' building, now a College, on the right. The ECB usually reserve 60-70 for the press for international matches. Gloucestershire are aiming to stage a match in the 2019 World Cup and compete to stage other ODIs earlier. Next Tuesday (August 20) England Lions take on Bangladesh in an ODI and they don't to be deluged with applications for press passes. So far the club have yet to install floodlights but they probably will in a year or two.

The capacity will eventually be 17,000, with slightly more than half of it being temporary accommodation. Incidentally, Tom Richardson is about to retire. Will Brown of Bet Fair is taking over as CEO.

 

REPORT ON VISIT TO OLD TRAFFORD ON ITS ASHES REBIRTH 3/8/2013


Mike Atherton used to complain about the glare of the sun and about movement in the old Red Rose press box and he was one of the many who raved about the new press facilities at revamped Old Trafford. Most critics wrote laudatory pieces about them and except for one, none of them found a fault.

The exception was our good friend Jim Maxwell. “Everything is fine,” he said, “but I can't see the scoreboard!” There is a truncated scoreboard/cum advertising construction down at deep mid wicket from the press box and you had to agree, he had a point. Geoff Durbin, Lancashire’s Operations Manager, said “The ECB wanted to use that place to advertise Investic, the sponsors. When more development takes place, there should be another one.” The existing scoreboard, on the far right, just peeps out above the stand but most of the main information is hidden from the well designed press box which has 114 spacious working spaces.

The press box is at a good, optimum height, not too high (Lord's and Edgbaston suffer from that) and not too low (the Oval).

Geoff did several national TV and radio interviews and his beaming face reflected the joy of everyone involved in rescuing Old Trafford from the threat of losing Test matches. He was particularly pleased to hear Gary Neville say to TMS’s Jonathan Agnew “where I'm sitting here is better than the commentating seats I have in football matches.”

Doors on either side open to let in fresh air, which is a rarity in English Test match grounds. Another good point is that you step out of the glass doors across to the media room where lunch and tea is served before it is turned into the interview room. In the toilets, they've used quotes from famous cricket writers on a wall to while away a few minutes. Martin Johnson, of “can’t bat, can't bowl, can't field” fame, was somewhat taken aback to be one of the names used.

The large lifts are fast and efficient and we were greeted by smiling attendants to show us to our seats. The contrast with the moneybags big clubs of the Premier League was stark. The food was better as well and after the tea interval ice cream, made by a company in Buckinghamshire, was served at your position. Arsenal were the pioneers of serving ice cream but hardly any club followed their lead.

Lockers have yet to be installed but they will be.

Lancashire went through a number of crises when they embarked on their 45m refurburbishment and they teetered on the brink several times but everyone deserves the highest praise, particularly Jim Cumbes who never lost his sense of humour.

BRIAN SCOVELL
Chairman of the Cricket Writers’ Club Facilities Committee

 

GIDEON HAIGH’S “ON WARNE” WINS THE CRICKET SOCIETY AND MCC BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARD 2013 - Thanks to Clare Skinner of MCC


Acclaimed Australian cricket writer Gideon Haigh announced as the winner of the 2013 Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year award, for his book “On Warne”.
Prominent clergyman and former first class cricketer Andrew Wingfield Digby presents the £3000 prize money in front of a packed Lord’s Long Room.
Haigh bats-off competition from five other shortlisted books, including a much liked cricket and relationships novel by county cricketer turned author Peter Gibbs.
Forty-four year old competition, run in partnership between The Cricket Society and MCC since 2009, praised by MCC Arts & Library Chairman, Alastair Lack, as a highlight of the cricketing year.

An Oscar-style countdown took place in the Lord’s Long Room on Monday 15h April as it was announced that Australian cricket writer, Gideon Haigh, had won the 2013 Cricket Society and MCC Book of the Year Award, for his book “On Warne”. Simon and Schuster’s Ian Marshall accepted the award and a cheque for £3000 on behalf of Haigh, in front of an appreciative audience, which included MCC and Cricket Society Members, authors and their publishers, and guest cricketing journalists and writers.

All short listed authors or their representatives spoke about their work, with Haigh (via Marshall) assuring the audience that “Shane Warne is every bit as much fun to write about as he was to watch, and would be pleased to be recognised in this way – he had never managed to get his name on the Honours Board at Lord’s.”

Chair of judges Vic Marks surveyed the books considered by the judges and commented in detail on each of the six that had been short listed. Commenting on Haigh’s effort, Marks said “On Warne”: “was commendably short, cleverly and unusually structured, and overall a convincing description of one of the greatest of cricketers.” Marks went on to outline the challenges of choosing the short list and then a winner. Keynote speaker Andrew Wingfield Digby spoke about his cricketing memories, including his time as spiritual adviser to the England cricket team, and paid tribute to Christopher Martin-Jenkins who had keenly supported the competition.

The competition, run by The Cricket Society since 1970 and in partnership with MCC since 2009, is for books nominated by Members and not publishers and is highly regarded by writers and publishers. A previous delighted winner, former Wisden editor Scyld Berry, hailed his award as “cricket’s seal of literary approval”, while three years ago a prolonged search of the Lord’s dustbins failed to locate Anthony Gibson’s excitedly discarded winning cheque.

Notes for editors:

The six books on the shortlist (alphabetically by author) were:
Peter Gibbs: Settling the Score. Methuen
Gideon Haigh: On Warne. Simon and Schuster
Steve James: The Plan: How Fletcher and Flower Transformed English Cricket. Bantam Books
Miles Jupp: Fibber in the Heat, Following England in India, A Blogger’s Tale. Ebury Press
Malcolm Knox: Never a Gentlemen’s Game. Hardie Grant
Andrew Murtagh: A Remarkable Man, The Story of George Chesterton. Shire Publications

A long list of nineteen books from those nominated by either The Cricket Society or MCC Members and not publishers were whittled down to six by a panel of judges independently chaired by writer and broadcaster and former England and Somerset cricketer Vic Marks. The other judges are David Kynaston and Stephen Fay (MCC) and John Symons and Chris Lowe (The Cricket Society). Nigel Hancock is the competition’s administrator and Chairman of the Cricket Society.

The Cricket Society – www.cricketsociety.com and Twitter @CricketSociety – encourages a love of cricket through playing, watching, reading and listening. It supports young cricketers, makes annual awards, holds regular meetings, publishes an acclaimed journal and has a cricket team.

MCC is the custodian of the Laws and Spirit of Cricket, an innovative independent voice in world cricket, and a passionate promoter of the game. It is also the world’s most active cricket-playing club and the owner of Lord’s – The Home of Cricket.

The partnership agreement between the Cricket Society and MCC, which currently runs until 2014, is expected to be renewed shortly.


CARDUS LUNCH 3 APRIL 2013


The Inaugural Neville Cardus Lunch took place on Wednesday April 3rd 2013 at Lancashire County Cricket Club, Old Trafford. Around 50 people were present to listen to speeches about the great Cricket and Music critic including representatives from Lancashire CCC and The Halle.

There was time to listen to a recording of Neville being interviewed and a special Menu was produced showing some of the cartoons he drew. Michael Kennedy, distinguished former music critic of both the Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph gave a speech on the Neville he knew and there was a special toast on what would have been Neville Cardus’ 125th birthday! The Neville Cardus Archive was on display for people to peruse. The purpose of the archive is to keep the name of Neville Cardus alive and his writings on cricket and music in the public eye.

The lunch promoted the Neville Cardus Archive which will be held in the new pavilion and is a large collection of letters, photographs, cartoons, articles, scrapbooks, original manuscripts and recordings relating to Neville Cardus. It is hoped that will become a annual event on April 3rd –Nevilles birthday.

The lunch was organised by Rev Malcolm Lorimer and Bob Hilton who look after the archive.


CARDIFF - A WARNING


If you need a hotel room at Cardiff when covering the L/O International there (England v South Africa on 24th August) you are advised to book as soon as you can. The Millennium Stadium is staging a speedway event the same weekend. The Galloping Ivan Mauger is 72. Leslie ’Tiger’ Smith It is my sad duty to inform Members, who may not have been aware, of the death of Leslie Smith. Terry Cooper, a long-standing colleague of Leslie’s, writes:- His death occurred last April, but a communications blip prevented this becoming known among his former colleague until recently. He was called Tiger - after the old England wicket-keeper - as soon as he joined The Cricket Reporting Agency (CRA) in 1932. The Agency supplied all the cricket, rugby and football news for the Press Association before amalgamation in 1965. He covered five England tours in the 1950s and 60s, including Ted Dexter’s expedition with the Duke of Norfolk to Australia in 1962-63, plus numerous home Tests. He was a prolific contributor to Wisden, which was produced by the CRA, and for many years occupied the taxing role of records compiler. He became Sports Editor of the Press Association for the last six years of his career, retiring in 1977. He taught bridge at a local college until well into his 90s. During World War II he served for four years with the Army in Iraq.


ON THE 'BUSES


Matthew Engel writes:-

Members still sentient enough to remember county cricket in the dear dead days beyond recall will be delighted top hear that one of the best-loved of all press box characters has been given a most distinctive honour. Jack Arlidge gave visiting hacks a warm welcome at Hove for five happy decades, and died in 20900, aged 88. Now he has had a ‘bus named after him. Brighton & Hove ‘Buses have named their brand-new doubledecker, no 403, “Jack Arlidge” as part of their programme to name all their vehicles after local characters and celebrities with a Brighton collection. Since most people have been to Brighton, if only for a dirty weekend, the competition is hotter that it might be in Northampton!
Anyway, Jack is now on a par with the Prince Regent, Charles II, Lord Olivier, Churchill, Dickens and Frankie Howard....... and CB Fry, Ranji, John Langridge, John Wisden, C Aubrey Smith, Maurice Tate and Ken Suttle. It’s a lovely honour and there is a charming citation at:- http://history.buses.co.uk/history/fleethist/403ja.htm


65TH ANNIVERSARY LUNCH


Mark Baldwin, Chairman of the Dinner sub-Committee writes:-The 65th Anniversary Lunch, held in the long Room at Lord’s on 19th September, 2011 was a grand occasion and much enjoyed by all who attended. Many thanks to all those Members who supported the event. The feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive. MCC, in making the venue available to the Club free of charge, are also due our thanks. Once again we are extremely grateful to Brit Insurance for their generous and vital sponsor- ship and to Fuller’s, who provided the usual welcome firkins of free beer. Christopher Martin-Jenkins manfully MC-ed the whole affair (many thanks, CMJ) and our speaker, Professor David Purdie, helped to make the occasion a special event. We were also pleased to welcome Jonny Bairstow and his mother, Janet, who works at Yorkshire, as guests of the Club on the day. Jonny received the CWC Young Cricketer of the Year Award trophy from the 1991 winner, Mark Ramprakash. Keith Bradshaw, the outgoing MCC Chief Executive and Secretary, was the recipient of the Peter Smith Award. Harry Pearson’s Slipless in Settle won the CWC 2011 Book Award.


CONGRATULATIONS TO ENGLAND CRICKET TEAM AND ANDY FLOWER FOR AWARDS AT SJA LUNCH 2011


The England Cricket Team won the Team of the Year Award and England Cricket Coach Andy Flower was awarded with the President's Trophy at the recently held British Sports Journalists Association 2011 lunch in London. Andy Flower received his award from Sir Michael Parkinson and Jonathan Trott accepted the Team of the Year Award on behalf of the team and his colleagues.


CWC DELIGHTED TO ENTER 3 YEAR SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH WILLIAM HILL


Our Chairman, Pat Gibson announced late last week that the Cricket Writers' Club are delighted to enter into an association with William Hill for a period of three years sponsorship.

Contact details of personnel to ring/email for latest prices, as follows: spokesperson for William Hill, Rupert Adams (radams@williamhill.co.uk, office 0208 918 3858, mobile 07841 011584). Alternative contact is Graham Sharpe on the same office number.


ECB CHANGES


As some members may be aware, Martyn Cornish recently left the ECB to join the London 2012 Organising Committee and Maria O'Donoghue is currently on maternity leave.

Edward (Eddie) Riddell has now replaced Martyn and will be the new daily contact for all accreditation issues and Sara Tossell will take temporary responsibility for all media operations until Maria returns next June.

Their details are:
Sara Tossell
Tel: 0207 432 1272.
Mobile: 07557 083255.
Email: sara.tossell@ecb.co.uk

Edward Riddell
Mobile: 07909 118716.
Email: edward.riddell@ecb.co.uk