Consett & District Cricket Club - Mikes Previous Muses

Mike's Previous Muses



December 2018.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  In his poem ‘To Autumn’, John Keats describes Autumn as ‘the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’. Well we’ve certainly had the mists but for this writer, November was the month of AGMs. Attendance at the Club’s AGM on 13th November was higher than it had been for a few years; a most welcome sign. Anyone hoping to make money on the ‘How long will the Secretary’s Report take him?’ sweepstake would have had little chance of lining his pockets. I presented a condensed version. In fact the whole AGM lasted only thirty-five minutes. No doubt to the relief of one and all. Short[ish] it may have been; however, important decisions were taken. Perhaps the most note-worthy of these was the election of Stuart Graham as 1st Team Captain and Andy Stokoe as 1st Team Vice-captain. Gary Hunter, who has led the Team in recent seasons, had informed the Club of his intention to step down from the captaincy several weeks before the AGM. Gary served the Club very well in that highly demanding capacity. Hopefully he will enjoy his cricket even more without the weight of captaincy on his shoulders.


  The League AGM was held on 27th November at Blue Flames CC., Benton, Newcastle. Using the voice of the lady in the car [SAT NAV], I managed to negotiate my way through foreign territory and found myself at an ideal venue for holding a meeting for fifty clubs. The room was large but, unlike the inaugural AGM held in November2017 at Kingston Park, it was possible to hear every word spoken. As is historically the norm, the voting of the League’s clubs regarding rule changes did not always go the way that the Club wished. Thus, next season all matches will start at 1.00p.m. [12.30 for the last three matches of the season], the 2nd Team will play 40 overs per innings in League matches and teams will have 90 minutes after the official starting time to complete their team [i.e. a player whose arrival at the ground is delayed by up to 90 minutes may play in the match]. As the Club’s representative, I voted against all three of those proposals but was outnumbered in a big way. However, I did ‘get it right’ when voting in favour of the introduction of a Power Play operating in cup matches organised by the League. The compiler of the League Handbook [League Secretary Paul Lee] will have his work cut out to amend all of the rule changes adopted at the AGM. There was a total of twenty-seven motions voted upon!!! Most were carried!!! Make sure that you read the Handbook before the start of the season or you will not have any idea of what is going on.       


    It was at the Club’s AGM that I was informed that John ‘Rut’ Rutherford had been ‘whisked’ to hospital with what proved to be a pulmonary embolism. John was to spend twelve days in hospital. Happily the ‘blood-clot busting’ drugs worked well and John was eventually allowed home. For some of the twelve days in hospital the bed next to his was occupied by Ron Carr. Ron is a long-term friend of former Club batsman Billy Gibson and was a regular spectator at the Club’s matches when Billy was playing back in the 1970s. He also knows John well. No doubt the pair of them whiled away the boring hours in hospital putting the world to rights. I first met John in the Blackfyne dressing room at the first outdoor nets of season 1970. It was my first season at the Club and I knew very few of the players. I assumed that John was a long-standing Club member but was told by him that he and David Graham, who was with him in the dressing room, had been playing for Allendale & Westwood CC and that this, too, was to be their first season at Blackfyne. Later in that year I vacated my ‘digs’, got married and moved into my new house on Fairways. A short time later John and his wife Mary moved into their new house a few yards away from mine. Small world eh? We were to remain neighbours for sixteen years.The rest, as they say, is history. Over the following years we got know each other very well indeed both on and off the field. I am sure that readers will join with me in wishing John a speedy return to good health.


  Moving on to domestic arrangements for next season. Kamran Mansoor has informed the Club [via Gary Hunter] that he will be plying his trade with Warkworth CC [Division 3] next season. I know nothing of that club nor its ground but anticipate Kamran breaking a few records there. On the plus side Callum McCabe will be joining the Club next season. His all-round ability will be a huge bonus.


December’s  Cricket Quiz

More trouble and strife:-

[a] Which Australian spinner was banned for a year in 2003 after testing positive for a banned substance, which he said was a diet pill given to him by his mother?

[b] Which former Indian captain was banned for life for his role in a match-fixing scandal?

[c] Which former England captain skippered a highly controversial rebel tour to South Africa in 1989-90?

[d] With which former Australian captain is Ian Botham said to have enjoyed a feud lasting 38 years?

[e] Which England captain was fined heavily for the ‘Dirt in the Pocket Affair’ in 1994?

[f] Which Yorkshire captain was banned from lifting his side’s trophy after they won the County Championship in 2014 for comments he had made to Ashwell Prince in a previous match?

Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to November’s Cricket Quiz   

A mixed bag:-

[a] True or false? Yorkshireman Bobby Peel was banned from the Yorkshire team in 1897 for taking the field drunk and urinating in front of his captain, Lord Hawke. True

[b] Why is David Lloyd called Bumble? Because he looks like one of the characters called ‘Bumblies’ in Michael Bentine’s TV programme of that name.

[c] True or false? In a mix up where both batsmen are stranded at one end of the wicket, the batsmen choose who is out. False

[d] The score is 8 for no wicket at the end of the first over. This over consisted of four dot balls and then two run-scoring shots. At the end of the over both batsmen were on four not out. How? The first batsman hits the ball into the deep; they run five including overthrows but that tally includes one short run; having crossed, the second batsman hits a boundary.

[e] The batting side needs one run to win. The fielding side needs one wicket to win. The fielding side bowl a wide but the batsman is stumped. Who wins, or is it a draw? The batting side wins because the wide occurred first and therefore the match is over.

[f] True or false? If an umpire miscounts and a batsman is dismissed off the seventh ball of the over, the dismissal doesn’t count. False



  Finally, it is time for a few quotations. This month’s topic is, once again, Politics.


‘No country which has cricket as one of its national games has yet gone Communist. On this I found my trust that the new regime in Grenada will turn out to be not so extreme Left-Wing as predicted.’

Woodrow Wyatt in ‘The Sunday Mirror’, 1979.


‘It was his dream to build a kind of socialist cricket republic where all players would be equal. If he had had his way we would have stood up before the start of each match and belted out a couple of choruses of the Red Flag.’

Ian Botham, on Geoff Cook’s management of Durham, in ‘My Autobiography’, 1995.


‘Comprehensives don’t produce cricketers.’

Jim Laker, former England and Surrey off-spinner.


‘There’s no pressure in Yorkshire cricket. My mate gets up at half-past four every morning to go down t’pit. That’s what you call pressure.’

Steve Oldham, upon his appointment as Yorkshire cricket manager, 1989.


‘Did you see that, sir? That means war!’

MCC member at Lord’s when a green baize was placed over one of the Long Room busts, start of Second World War, 1939.


‘The gradual exclusion of white folk is a bad thing for West Indies cricket. ’

Len Hutton, the first professional to lead England overseas, in the West Indies, 1953/4.



‘It’s rather like sending in your opening batsmen only for them to find that their bats have been broken by the Team captain.’

Sir Geoffrey Howe, resigning as Conservative deputy leader, in the conflict over Margaret Thatcher’s attitude to Europe, which precipitated Michael Heseltine’s challenge for the Tory leadership, 1990.


‘It’s new bats that are wanted.’

Mrs. Thatcher on the same issue, 1990.


‘ A sportsman is like a soldier who is always ready to help the country.’

General Zia of Pakistan, pressing Imran Khan to come out of retirement, 1988.


‘I am always ready to serve the nation and the game.’

Imran’s response, showing signs of a putative political career, 1988.  [Readers will have noted that Imran Khan is now Prime Minister of Pakistan  -  editor.]  


Mike Rogers







October 2018.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  Well there goes another season; and what a season it was! Plenty of ‘highs’ for the 1st Team and a resurgence of performance in the second half of the season for the 2nd Team. Reference has been made in these columns throughout the season of the tight finishes to matches played by the 1st Team. ‘Exciting’ has at times been an inadequate adjective to describe the emotions experienced by Blackfyne supporters. ‘Heart stopping’ would have been more appropriate. Perhaps the best [or worst] moment was retained for the last ball of the season itself? Defeat in the final two League matches had scuppered any ambitions of winning the League. A solo barrage of 6s by a Seaham Park batsman had demolished the hopes of the 1st Team winning the Roy Coates Cup Finals Day played at Crook CC. The only remaining chance of lifting silverware was the Tyneside Charity Bowl Final played at Tynedale. For the majority of the match the Club looked to be playing second fiddle to Premier League South Northumberland.  Batsman Robbie Winn, however, had different ideas. Taking his cue, perhaps, from the aforementioned Seaham Park opener, Robbie unleashed an assault on the opposition bowlers. In an innings of just 29 balls his strokes [not slogs] amassed a total of 55 not out including nine 4s and one 6. When the last ball of the last over was delivered two runs were needed for victory. In a TV drama, of course, that ball would have been blasted out of the ground. However, dramatic as it was, this was not fiction. One run was scored and the match was tied. Having lost fewer wickets, South Northumberland won the spoils. Well done Robbie and the rest of the team for providing members with an exciting season, best described [as was the Final at Tynedale itself] as so near and yet so far.   


  Familiar faces will be missing next season. I write of the promotion of Ashington CC and Shotley Bridge CC to the North East Premier League. Given the perceived [by the writer] desperation of the NEPL to replace the three clubs which had left that League for various reasons, applications for promotion were sought from clubs within our own N&TCL and the Durham League. N&TCL Champions Swalwell CC [it still hurts to write that] and our Club declined the opportunity to do so. [A discussion of the merits and disadvantages of joining the NEPL would take up the rest of this article. However, as the Club fails to meet one of the criteria necessary for such elevation viz. a lack of a current Junior Section, the discussion would be pointless.] Ashington and Shotley Bridge together with Crook CC [runners-up in the Durham League] accepted promotion and will compete in the NEPL 2nd Division in 2019. Writing as someone with a long history of both playing in and watching matches against ‘the club down the hill’, I shall miss fixtures with our close neighbours. I will not miss the lengthy journey to Ashington  but do regret losing the acquaintanceship of several of Ashington’s loyal supporters. As the north-eastern vernacular has it – they were ‘good crack’.


  As I write this article the Chapman clan is in Cyprus attending the wedding of John and Jayne. Bob, of course, was less than keen on venturing to foreign climes, although I am sure that once there he will enjoy it all. I know that all readers will join me in wishing John and Jayne a long and happy life together.


  The Club’s Senior Presentation Evening will take place on Friday 5th October. No doubt the majority of the ‘formal’ proceedings will, quite rightly, be concentrated upon the on-field performance of the Club. However, perhaps the most prestigious award is the Gus Robinson Rose Bowl presented to the Club Member of the Year? The Club is run in as professional a way as possible by unpaid amateurs. I can think of at least two dozen members who qualify for this category of volunteers. Without their work, often unseen, there would be no cricket played at Blackfyne. It is only fit and proper that their contribution is recognised by the award.


  The recent announcement of the retirement of Paul Collingwood from first-class cricket came as no surprise to followers of Durham CCC. Age catches up with all of us eventually.In my opinion Paul is to be commended for his work with the County since his departure from the international scene several years ago. To have played in front of thousands of spectators for many years and then to return suddenly to the metaphorical ‘three men and a dog’ on the County circuit must be a jolt. Paul, however, appeared to take it in his stride and threw himself into doing whatever he could for his native County club. No doubt we will not have heard the last of him. Only he knows what his ambitions are and what will be around the corner for him. He may even turn out for Shotley Bridge in the NEPL. I wish him well.


  The rumour-mill is probably working at top speed at the moment. I write, of course, of the comings and goings of players within our League. Last year I was told by an opposition player that Messrs. A, B & C would be joining our club for season 2018. The annoying thing was that he was correct in every detail. How did he know? Confidentiality is a thing of the past. As for season 2019 all I can tell you is that the story of MS Dhoni having been seen in Blackhill is not true. Elvis on the other hand …………………. . 


October’s Cricket Quiz   


A spot of bother:-

[a] Which former England captain buzzed the ground in a Tiger Moth plane during a match in Australia in 1991?

[b] Who was the other player in the plane?

[c] Which England all-rounder was banned after he admitted to smoking cannabis in 1986?

[d] Which Australian cricketer was sent home from the World T20 Cup in 2012 for an ‘alcohol-related incident’?

[e] What is it alleged that England players threw on the pitch during the 2007 Oval Test against India?

[f] Name the England opener, now a match referee, who demolished his stumps with his bat after being dismissed against Australia in 1988?

Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to September’s Cricket Quiz

A mixed bag:-

[a] Which West Indian fast bowler sent down 15 balls in an over against Australia in Perth in 1996-97, widely believed to be the longest ever? Curtly Ambrose

[b] Bowlers have to inform the umpire if they are changing their bowling style [e.g. from medium pace to spin]. True or false? False. [They only have to inform them if they are going to change their bowling arm.]

[c] What is the cheapest ten-wicket haul in First-class cricket history? 10-10 by Hedley Verity.

[d] Who is the oldest man to have scored a century in a Test match? Jack Hobbs  [aged 46].

[e] Name the only Welshman to captain England at Cricket. Tony Lewis

[f] Which Warwickshire spinner once took all ten wickets without the aid of any fielder; seven bowled, three LBW?  Eric Hollies

[g] When England played Australia in 1979, Lillee was caught Willey bowled Dilley in the gully. True or false?  True


Finally, it is time for a few quotations. Cricket-loving children [yes, there are some] probably have a dream of playing for their county and their country. The subject of the quotations below not only achieved those ambitions but was an important member of the most successful County team of the 1960s before moving on to pastures new and leading his adopted county to the success which it had never before experienced in its history. As if that was not enough for any cricketer, he captained England in Australia, regaining the Ashes in the process, returned to his native county as Team Manager [and player] before taking up the role of England’s Chairman of Selectors. When all of that was over and done with he would have been forgiven for sitting back and enjoying his retirement.  But no, he was to be found back at his local club [Farsley CC] where it all began, cutting the wicket in preparation for Saturday’s match. I write, of course, of Raymond Illingworth [Yorkshire, Leicestershire and England]. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but just look at his record as an all-rounder [off-spinner and middle-order batsman]  and captain of Leicestershire and England. Raymond  [he did not appreciate being known as ‘Ray’] Illingworth was a boyhood hero of mine and, for no other reason than that, he merits  a series of quotations to himself.       


‘As good a cricketing mind as there has ever been. ’

Sir Colin Cowdrey on Ray Illingworth, appointed as Chairman of Selectors,1994.


‘I did once try to become a selector, but the application seemed to get blocked along the way. ’

Ray Illingworth, freshly appointed as England’s Chairman of Selectors, at a youthful 62, explaining why his involvement with the national side had taken so long.


‘We have been running scared.’

England’s new Chairman of Selectors, Ray Illingworth, in his first day in the job, on the policy of playing six specialist batsmen, 1994.


‘He is one of our best batsmen. But I’m not going to tolerate part-time players who want to pick and choose which series they play in.’

Illingworth, assessing the likelihood of a Graham Gooch comeback, 1994.


‘Current players admired?’


Raymond Illingworth’s response to a questionnaire in ‘The Cricketer’ upon becoming Chairman of Selectors.


‘I fear he will be too keen to run the train-set all by himself. ’

Mike Brearley, in ‘The Observer’, upon Ray Illingworth’s appointment as Chairman of Selectors. [Brearley regarded Illingworth, nevertheless, as the shrewdest captain he had ever played against.]


‘I don’t want players who need a shoulder to cry on.’

Ray Illingworth, justifying his decision to dispense with the England chaplain, Andrew Wingfield-Digby, 1994.


‘Providing a shoulder to cry on has never been a definition of my work. I agree with Mr Illingworth that our players should be tough. I know of no tougher person to walk the face of the earth than my own boss – Jesus Christ.’

Andrew Wingfield-Digby, who was still to be allowed occasional dressing-room visits on an unofficial basis, 1994.


‘If they’re not going to work hard, they’re not going to play.’

Gospel according to Ray Illingworth, newly appointed as Chairman of Selectors, 1994.


Mike Rogers







September 2018.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  Followers of the Club’s 1st Team were ‘put through the mill’ on more than one occasion last month. Following the one wicket win at Ryton at the end of July, August saw the Team putting its supporters through agonies at Lanchester [won by one wicket] and Tynedale [won by four runs]. Attendance at such matches should carry a health warning. The irony of the matter is that prior to the Lanchester match the Club beat Swalwell by 6 wickets and then, between the two away fixtures, the Club hosted Shotley Bridge CC in what was termed a ‘top of the table clash’. Most followers of both clubs, including the writer, anticipated a ‘tight’ match. How wrong that was with the Club running out winners by 106 runs. Funny game cricket eh? The victories were team efforts. Granted there were outstanding performances by some individuals, but whether with bat, ball or in the field, the whole team contributed to the success. Keep it up!


  The Tyneside Charity Bowl Final [Consett v South Northumberland] was held at Stocksfield CC on Wednesday 15th August. The Final had been scheduled to be played on a Sunday at Benwell Hill CC. However, because of South/North’s commitment to a national Cup competition, the date and venue were changed. As many readers will be aware, the match at Stocksfield had to be abandoned when heavy rain finally fell from the dark clouds which had enveloped the ground during the play which had been possible. It has to be stated that the Club was in a parlous position when the rain came. Hopefully the Team will fare better when the Final is eventually played at Tynedale CC on Sunday 9th September. Although I had driven past Stocksfield’s ground on a number of occasions over the years, I had never played in or watched a match there before. It is an impressive complex boasting a rugby pitch, a football pitch and two, not one, cricket fields! Several Club supporters in attendance that particular evening were, like me, curious to know how the complex was run. Research on the internet reveals that the grounds are owned by the Parish Council. The four sports clubs which use the grounds have separate agreements with the Parish Council. However, the Cricket Club owns the pavilion. So now you know.


  Sod’s Law is still in existence as proved when the Club held its Annual ‘Summer Spectacular’ last month. The weeks of continuous sunshine and Saharan temperatures had, perhaps, prompted the attendees [well over 200 of them] to expect a balmy summer’s evening. This was not to be the case. Earlier the same day [the day of the Lanchester match] the weather had changed, the temperature had fallen as the skies clouded over. The evening brought rain, lots of it. However, that apart, the evening went well. The entertainment was excellent, the raffle did well, the bar did brisk business and a good time was had by all. The organisers and volunteers behind the temporary bar are to be congratulated upon a job well done. Being of a certain age, the lady wife and I sought sanctuary from the rain, not in the packed and noisy marquee, but under the pavilion’s balcony in the company of other more mature members viz. David and Christine Dixon, Bob and Lesley Chapman and Keith and Susan Horn. Euphoric as I was by the victory at Lanchester, I pushed the boat out [no pun intended] and shared a pizza with the lady wife. Life in the fast lane.


  The Club hosted the final of the Eric Topham Trophy the evening before the ‘Summer Spectacular’. The weather was kind and the match was a competitive affair played between Shotley Bridge and Lanchester with Lanchester running out winners. Club Treasurer Colin presented the trophy on behalf of Joan Topham. During his speech Colin paid a deserved tribute to Joan for her sponsorship of the Club. I was delighted to see so many spectators at Blackfyne for the Final. It was a great advert for local cricket. Several former players were of the opinion that, given the attendance for the Final played between the two clubs only a few miles apart, the recreation of a North West Durham League or even a Tyneside Senior League would bring back the crowds of yesteryear. Perhaps it would. There again it would depend upon the level of support enjoyed by the other clubs in that League. Let us not forget that the large crowds of yesteryear were attracted to local cricket not only by the cricket itself but by the absence of one particular avenue of entertainment commonplace today i.e. sport on SKY Television. Going over old ground I know but when some players themselves do not turn out to play in favour of watching a football match on TV, it would be unrealistic perhaps to forecast a substantial increase in attendance at local matches.


  Am I the only person who despairs at the antics of some players in our matches? I think not. I refer to the following, all witnessed by the writer this season:- Fielders swearing out loud when they have dropped a catch [loud enough for the whole ground to hear]; bowlers swearing in a similar manner when they have bowled a bad ball which has been dispatched to the boundary; boundary fielders screaming an appeal for LBW or ‘caught behind’; batsmen ‘standing’ when given out ‘caught behind’ when they have clearly ‘taken the cover off it’; excessive appealing by a whole fielding side. As one of my boyhood heroes, Fred Trueman, once said [on Test Match Special], “I don’t know what’s going on out there.”             


September’s Cricket Quiz

A mixed bag:-

[a] Which West Indian fast bowler sent down 15 balls in an over against Australia in Perth in 1996-97, widely believed to be the longest ever?

[b] Bowlers have to inform the umpire if they are changing their bowling style [e.g. from medium pace to spin]. True or false?

[c] What is the cheapest ten-wicket haul in First-class cricket history?

[d] Who is the oldest man to have scored a century in a Test match?

[e] Name the only Welshman to captain England at Cricket.

[f] Which Warwickshire spinner once took all ten wickets without the aid of any fielder; seven bowled, three LBW?

[g] When England played Australia in 1979, Lillee was caught Willey bowled Dilley in the gully. True or false? 

Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to August’s Cricket Quiz

Guess the coach:-

[a] Who was the first man to be appointed England cricket coach in 1986?         Micky Stewart [father of Alec].

[b] Who is the only man to have held the England coach’s position twice?           Peter Moores

[c] Which former Yorkshire captain served as coach and ‘supremo’ between 1995 and 1996? Raymond Illingworth

[d] Which former England Test cricketer was an umpire, then a commentator, before going into coaching and holding the England job between 1996 and 1999?  [He has since returned to commentating.] David Lloyd

[e] Which former Aussie spinner was credited with developing Shane Warne’s talent?        Terry Jenner

[f] Which English coach of Pakistan died during the 2007 World Cup?             Former England batsman Bob Woolmer.


Finally, it is time for a few quotations. Slating the England cricket team and its selectors has been a popular pastime for the press and others ever since the 19th Century. I, too, participate in the activity. During the 3rd England v India Test Match played at Trent Bridge last month members of the media were hard at it long before the result was known. I offer the following if for no other reason than to illustrate that, ‘It’s all been said before.’


‘I find it mystifying that England produce any cricketers at all. ’

Colin McCool, Australian, on English coaching soon after the Second World War.


‘One is always a little nervous when watching England bat. ’

Peter May, Chairman of Selectors, 1984.


‘You bowled everyone at the wrong end, didn’t you?’

The remark, from Phil Edmonds, in the Lord’s press conference that encouraged David Gower, on the end of another thrashing from Australia, to leave early for the theatre. 1989.


‘In the old days men were sometimes omitted because they did not buy their round at the bar; these days they are more likely to be left out because they do.’


Matthew Engel, in his notes to the 1993 ‘Wisden’, on the omission of David Gower from Graham Gooch’s England party in India, 1992/3.


‘How have I survived in 117 Tests without this wretched commitment?’

David Gower, in his final Hampshire season, 1993.


‘Meekness is a nice word. Wimpish is the one I would use. The England side recently has had no spunk about it. ’

Ian Botham, when asked if the England side was ‘too meek’, Ashes series, 1993.


‘Why are people too old to play Test cricket at 37, but too young to select the team until they are collecting their pension?’

Ian Botham, 1994, objecting to an England selection trio [Illingworth, Titmus, Bolus] all over 60.


‘At the 1996 World Cup, the England squad resembled a bad-tempered grandmother attending a teenage rave. Unable to comprehend what was happening – on the field or off it – the players just lingered, looking sullen and incompetent.’

Matthew Engel, ’Wisden’, 1997.


Mike Rogers







August 2018.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  As I begin this edition [27th July] the sun is beating down and the temperature is 24 degrees Centigrade. We have enjoyed [or is it endured?] such conditions for most of July. It has been a pleasure to watch cricket both home and away without having to don sweaters, jackets, coats etc. as is common practice during a typical cricket season. In fact the past month’s weather is reminiscent of season 1976. The 1st Team’s performances have, in the main, matched the good weather. Recent League successes have put the Club into 3rd position in Division 1. In addition the team has reached the Final of the Tyneside Charity Bowl [for the first time in decades] and the Quarter Final of the Roy Coates Cup. Stewart Graham has continued to make an impact on his return to the Club. Perhaps the highlight of his good form came in the home match against Percy Main when his bowling figures of 7-13 included a hat-trick. As I often preach in these articles, cricket is an individualistic team game. By way of reinforcing that point, every member of the side has contributed regularly or consistently with bat, ball or in the field*.


  To reach the Final of the Tyneside Charity Bowl the Club had to beat Blagdon Park CC in the semi-final. This they did without too much trouble [see the website for details]. What made the evening memorable for me was not the match itself but the venue. For a week or two prior to the match discussions in the Bar returned to the whereabouts of Blagdon Park [it is actually near Seaton Burn] and the best route to take to get to it. I, like several others, chose the A1 to the Seaton Burn turn-off followed by a mile or so along a minor road. My initial thought when reaching the ground was that it would be an ideal setting for a ‘Midsomer Murders’ programme, standing as it does in a vast country estate. The field is surrounded by trees and fields of cattle. The pavilion is painted a brilliant white and of a design typical of the Victorian or Edwardian period. A proper cricket pavilion, not one of those flat-roofed affairs seen all too often nowadays. Take the wrong turning [as I did] and you are confronted by the landowner’s mansion. Answers to our questions revealed the estate belonged to Lord Ridley whose family had owned it for many generations. I did say, did I not, that it looked like ‘Midsomer Murders’ country?


  A few days after the cup-tie at Blagdon Park I was watching a match at Richmond upon Thames. The game was played on Richmond Green. Sounds an  idyllic venue ? Well, not really. The Green is a huge grassed space [probably five or six times the area of Blackfyne]  enclosed by shops, restaurants, pubs and the river. The cricket field itself was demarcated by white boundary markers. The wicket had been marked in the usual manner; popping creases, return creases etc.. However, its colour [straw] was no different to the rest of the field. ‘Under-prepared’ does not do it justice.To complete the picture public footpaths criss-crossed the field. Play was interrupted on one occasion by a lady pushing a pram, accompanied by two young children, behind the bowler’s arm. The standard of play matched the facilities. I did not linger. 


  Judith Williamson has had a July she will not forget. A fall on a wet kitchen floor resulted in a broken hip! A subsequent hip replacement operation went well but, as her son David told me, things are never simple and following a set-back Judith was taken back into hospital for 24 hours. I am delighted to report that Judith has now returned to the comforts of her own home. I know that all members would like to send their best wishes for a full recovery to her.


  Readers of a certain age may remember the name of Ian Johnson. Ian bowled left-arm fast-medium pace for a while in the Club’s 1st Team during the 1970s. I met Ian on the golf course one day back in the 1980s but had not seen him again until last month when our paths crossed in the Metro Centre. It was not long before we were ‘going down memory lane’.  I was then able to bring him up to date regarding life at the Club and the workings of the new League.


  There are many things which confuse and confound me nowadays. Some are serious issues, others relatively trivial. One that is hard to categorize is the decision to grant the Freedom of Worcester to Basil D’Oliveira. I, like many lovers of cricket, remember him with great affection. His playing career is legend. Leaving the apartheid-ridden South African regime for England in the 1960s. Playing with distinction for Worcestershire and England. The cancellation of England’s winter tour of South Africa because his inclusion in the touring party was ‘not acceptable’ to the South African administration. Etc., etc.. At the end of his playing career Basil served his adopted County as Head Coach. Worcestershir CCC recognised his service to the Club as an all-rounder and coach by naming a stand after him. The granting of the Freedom of Worcester would have been seen as fitting tribute to D’Oliveira if it had been made on his retirement from cricket. What puzzles me is that the decision to do so was announced in July 2018, seven years after his death!   


* The final League match of July [away to Ryton] illustrated comments made previously regarding all members of the team contributing to success. At a time in the match when even the most die-hard Club supporters were pessimistic about the outcome of the match ‘the tail wagged’, securing victory by one wicket with only two minutes left on the clock. Another ‘nail-biter’.


August’s Cricket Quiz

Guess the coach:-

[a] Who was the first man to be appointed England cricket coach in 1986?

[b] Who is the only man to have held the England coach’s position twice?

[c] Which former Yorkshire captain served as coach and ‘supremo’ between 1995 and 1996?

[d] Which former England Test cricketer was an umpire, then a commentator, before going into coaching and holding the England job between 1996 and 1999?  [He has since returned to commentating.]

[e] Which former Aussie spinner was credited with developing Shane Warne’s talent?

[f] Which English coach of Pakistan died during the 2007 World Cup?


Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to July’s Cricket Quiz.

Name the grounds which have [or had] the following stands or landmarks:-

[a] River Taff  End     Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

[b] Vijay Merchant Stand     Wankede Stadium, Mumbai

[c] Wantage Road End     The County Ground, Northampton

[d] Inverarity Stand    WACA, Perth

[e] Sea End                County Ground, Hove

[f]  Bennett End      Grace Road, Leicester


Finally, it is time for a few quotations. As the England versus India Test Series is upon us, I offer the following:-


‘In Bombay when England batting there are forty to fifty thousand people shouting every time ball hitting the pad, and in Calcutta, my God, there are ninety thousand people all shouting. But you must concentrate. It is a selfish thing but you must concentrate to save your skin. ’

Swaroop Kishen, Indian Test umpire, in Scyld Berry’s ‘Cricket Wallah’, 1982.

[Swaroop may have been relieved when neutral umpires for Test Matches were introduced in 1986; writer.]


‘It’s 8.30 on a Friday night; what am I doing in Ahmedabad?’

‘Graeme Fowler, as portrayed in Vic Marks’s ‘Marks out of Eleven’, enduring a quiet night on England’s 1984/5 tour of India.


‘You’re the instigator of all this. If you feel like that you can take your passport and f***  off.’

England manager, Tony Brown, accusing Allan Lamb, in a players’ meeting, of lobbying for the tour of India to be cancelled following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, 1984/5.


‘There was nothing else to do but drink. I saw so many balls I couldn’t miss.’

Frank Worrell, after his double hundred in Kanpur, West Indies’ tour of India, 1952/3.


‘Bad cricket – sweep shot not good. Play straight, good cricket.’

Indian umpire to Dermot Reeve, after the England batsman had questioned an LBW decision during the 1993 tour of India. Reeve, who played very little else but the sweep [unless it was the reverse sweep] was not best pleased.

‘In India you are confined to your hotel. You’ve just got accept it.’

Graham Gooch, failing to adjust to the Indian lifestyle during England’s 3-0 Test defeat, 1993.


‘While they were in this palace with gold tigers and everything there were crippled blokes on the streets of Calcutta who couldn’t even get anything to eat. It made me sick.’

Phil Tufnell, describing what he told his Indian hosts at a reception during England’s 1992/3 tour.


Mike Rogers







June 2018.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  The season got underway properly in May with matches coming thick and fast for our four senior sides. Although the Club’s 3rd Team is finding it hard-going, the other ‘Sunday side’, the Academicals, has got off to a flier, winning all of its matches. The 2nd Team continues to find runs hard to come by with the inevitable consequence of disappointing results. To date [29th May] the 1st Team has tasted defeat only once [away to Swalwell] thereby progressing in both League and Cup competitions. I will not continue to hand out plaudits to that side given the fact that I am superstitious and do not wish to put a writer’s/commentator’s curse on it.


  “I’m worried about those youngsters over there. Their parents aren’t keeping their eyes on the cricket. I won’t be surprised if they get hit by the ball.” Words spoken by yours truly to Geoff and Susan Graham while we were watching the 1st Team’s match at Lintz CC early last month. Soon afterwards those words came back to bite me. A ball was lofted in my direction but I ‘lost it’ in the background [shades of colour blindness and Hartlepool CC referred to in a previous edition]. The ball came to earth but not before hitting me a stinging blow on the calf! With my pride dented, I felt the need to remark, “You can’t hurt me. I went to the same school as Brian Close!” Silly old ***. Did it hurt? You bet it did.


  One of the many benefits of this game of ours is that by playing it we have the opportunity to make long-standing friendships or acquaintanceships with many people; last month’s match at Lintz being a case in point. While walking around the boundary [keeping my eyes on the play in the middle] I came across two former Lintz stalwarts, Gordon Baker and Bob Cook. Younger readers may never have heard of either man but those of more mature years will remember their exploits with bat [Gordon] and ball [Bob]. Both men played for decades for the Lintz and are still strongly connected with that club. Pace-man Bob [or ‘Bobby’ as he was known] consistently topped the League bowling averages. A remarkable feat given the size of the Lintz field where a snick through the slips more often than not yielded four runs.  His partner in crime in opening the bowling was another Bob, Bob Bainbridge. In those days of the Tyneside Senior League there was no restriction on the number of overs each bowler could bowl. The two Bobs regularly bowled throughout an innings, clocking up either 22 or 23 overs each. Back then there were no drinks breaks either! Gordon scored runs a-plenty throughout his long playing career although [if memory serves me well] not too many against Consett.  It was good to have a chat with them both.


  Further opportunities to meet up with former team-mates were to follow. A home match against Ryton brought Bob and Marjorie Thornton to Blackfyne. Bob opened the batting for the Club’s 1st Team with some success for several seasons in the ‘70s before taking on the position of 2nd Team Captain, a post in which he thrived. Marjorie was famous for her cricket teas and the two of them were fixtures in the Darts, Dominoes & Whist team, keeping their cards close to their chests. Both are now in their eighties but that does not prevent Bob from playing golf two or three times a week! This septuagenarian can only manage to play regularly once a week. Another former team-mate, Rob Stokoe, appeared on the scene when the Club was playing at Swalwell. Rob, of course, played for both clubs. Now semi-retired from his job overseas, Rob is back in circulation in the district. He certainly chose the right match to attend as the list of old team-mates present that afternoon included not only the writer but David Graham, Geoff Graham, Bob Chapman, Gordon Hunter, Tommy Nichol and David Wilkinson.


  As some readers may know Club Treasurer Colin McPherson is an avid walker and a member of a Walking Group. On the final Saturday of May while the 1st Team was in the process of beating Lanchester CC by 7 wickets, Colin and the Group were walking twenty miles around the district. Yes, TWENTY. Their reward for completing the route was a Hog Roast at the ground. I envied them the Hog Roast [it looked delicious] but not the twenty miles. Apparently sixty-seven people took part in the walk and about fifty attended the Hog Roast. Not only did the hungry walkers enjoy their meal but took the opportunity of slaking their thirst at the Bar. Well done one and all. 

June’s Cricket Quiz.

Name the grounds which have [or had] the following stands or landmarks:-

[a] Mound Stand

[b] Eric Hollies Stand

[c] Three Ws Stand

[d] Sir Ian Botham Stand

[e] Grace Gates

[f] Hobbs Gates

Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to May’s Cricket Quiz:-

Family Ties

[a] What was Alec Bedser’s twin brother called? Eric

[b] What relation is former England batsman Nick Compton to batting great Denis Compton?  Grandson

[c] Name the younger brother of Australian Test batsman Mike Hussey. David Hussey

[d] What is the name of the father of England Test bowler Simon Jones, who also played Test cricket for England.  Jeff Jones

[e] What relation are Brian Lara and Dwayne Bravo? Cousins

[f] The grandson of which West Indian batting great played 15 tests for England  as a seam bowler?  Dean Headley


Finally, it is time for a few quotations. My beloved Yorkshire CCC has had more than its fair share of internal strife over its long history. I can remember the sacking of Johnny Wardle back in the 1950s, closely followed by the departures of Brian Close, Ray Illingworth and Geoff Boycott. Indeed the turmoil surrounding Boycott’s sacking was tantamount to a Civil War in the White Rose county. I could have, like many before me have done, written a book on the subject. However, just to prove the point that other First Class counties have had their own tempestuous times,  I offer the quotations below all of which relate to the sacking by Somerset CCC in the late 1980s of West Indian greats Viv Richards and Joel Garner and the  departure [to Worcestershire] of Ian Botham.      


‘As far as I’m concerned, you are part of the buildings and the furniture at Somerset and so are Vic [Marks]and Ian….I hope that you’ll be able to play with us until those legs turn to jelly, because I think that you and I and Ian and Vic are Somerset players right down to our bootstraps. ’

Peter Roebuck’s letter to Viv Richards on Roebuck’s appointment as Somerset captain for the 1986 season. Roebuck later said that he didn’t regret his words; his feelings had just changed.


‘When you have two workhorses and shoot them in the back, I think it’s evil.

You don’t treat animals in this way. I was blindfolded, led up an alley and assassinated. ’

Viv Richards, upon hearing in August 1986 that Somerset were not renewing his contract.


‘We had great difficulty this season in getting Richards to play in our evening pub games. He declined to play at Clevedon, Truro and Braunton, and the only reason he played at Ottery St. Mary was that we reminded him that they had staged a benefit match for him the year before.’

Michael Hill, Somerset Chairman, defending the committee’s decision,1986.



The sign hung on Peter Roebuck’s locker by Ian Botham, during the Somerset civil war over the sacking of Viv Richards and Joel Garner.


‘It’s hard to cut down a huge tree, let alone three.’

New Zealand Test batsman Martin Crowe in 1986.The three trees were Viv Richards, Joel Garner and Ian Botham. The first two were cut down, the third, Botham, uprooted himself.


‘I could see why they were lost. They had no sense of direction, no sense of purpose, no pride. They were drifting. The club had no leadership.’

Martin Crowe, on the state of Somerset’s young players prior to the sacking of Viv Richards and Joel Garner, 1986.


‘This committee has done to fair play what Colonel Gaddafi has done for air safety.’

Jan Foley, Bristol barrister, putting the Somerset rebels’ case at the county’s special meeting, 1986.


‘I’m told that Peter Roebuck is flying out to have a man-to-man talk with me. I suggest he stays in London. He’ll be a whole lot safer there.’

    Ian Botham’ s response ,while in Australia, to confirmation of Somerset’s sacking of Richards and Garner.


Mike Rogers





April 2018.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  By the time that this edition appears on the Club website there will be only two weeks to go until our new season begins. Begin it will - if those two weeks bring good drying weather. At the time of writing that is exactly what we have, sunshine accompanied by wind. However, forecasts for the next few days promise rain, sleet and snow. Hopefully the weather gods will take into account the fact that grounds have to be prepared in time for the season. Other preparations have gone well; indoor nets, purchase of equipment etc.. A Working Party is due to meet on 7th April to ‘tidy up’ the ground, pavilion and score-box and to reinstate sight-screens. None of those tasks would have been necessary if one other task had not been accomplished. ?????  The matter of registering our players with the League. Registration of players was, until this season, a comparatively simple job. New players filled in a form giving various details [name, address, previous club etc.], the form was countersigned by the Club Secretary and sent to the League Secretary. In due course a list containing the names of the newly registered players together with the names of previously registered players would be sent to the Club Secretary. Therefore each year only a small handful of forms were needed to be completed and sent to the League Secretary. As that annoying meerkat on the television would say, “Simples!” This year it was not so “simples”. We are, of course, now into the electronic digital age and we are now members of a new league. All players [old and new] had to be registered by e-mail with the League. Moreover, more details of each player were required. In order to ensure that players were registered in good time for the new season [at least seven days before its commencement], work on the task began early in February. I am pleased to report that the Club now has a full list of ‘runners’ for selection. The fact that this mammoth task has been completed is due to the work of Club Webmaster David Williamson. Thank you David for a job well done. I am so relieved that he chose to have his around the world trip at the end of last season and not in the run-up to this season!   


  Last month I attended the MCC New Laws workshop referred to in last month’s edition. Given that the workshop was intended for players and Club officials from all clubs in Co. Durham, the attendance was surprisingly low with only twenty or so of us in the cheap seats. Three umpires [drawn from the Premier League and North Yorkshire South Durham League] took it in turns to explain the changes to the laws aided by a PowerPoint presentation. You may be pleased to learn that I am not about to list all of the changes. Most of these will become apparent when matches begin later this month. However, the majority of the two hour long session was spent presenting and discussing the new Law 42 which deals solely with Player Behaviour Within Law 42 are listed the nature of offences which should necessitate the intervention of the umpire together with the sanctions which the umpire should apply. The sanctions range from the application of penalty runs and suspension from the match for a limited period to dismissal from the remainder of the match. My first thought was that it was a good idea. On reflection, however, I began to have doubts about the application of the Law. Yes, umpires in First Class and Minor Counties cricket will apply it and Premier League umpires will probably follow suit. How about the umpires in the N&TCL? Thankfully incidents which warrant suspensions or dismissals are rare in our League. However, would a lone umpire [many matches take place with just one umpire standing] feel strong enough to take the action[s] stated in the Law? Time will tell.  


  One Law not mentioned at the workshop was the one relating to ball tampering. That issue is hogging the media headlines at the time of writing thanks to our Antipodean friends Bancroft, Smith and Warner. The newcomer to our game may think that such behaviour is a new phenomenon. Readers of this article will know that it has been prevalent since the game began. During my active cricketing days ‘reverse swing’ was unknown. Every opportunity was taken to aid conventional swing by polishing one side of the ball. Perfectly legal. Woe betide any fielder who scuffed the ball by returning it ‘on the bounce’. ‘Raising the seam’ by the application of a thumb nail was another pursuit on offer. However this practice was and still is illegal. I heard reports, though never witnessed it myself, of metal bottle tops being used in place of thumb nails. Readers who were or are bowlers may be able to offer other suggestions of ways in which a cricket ball can be made more bowler-friendly. Returning to the incident in South Africa, two things spring to my mind. First of all how did the miscreants think that they could get away with it in a match played in front of a dozen or more television cameras? Secondly, as dressing rooms are busy places how come only three people knew about it? The affair was summed up well by one former Test cricketer who said, “If you’re going to do it [cheat], do it well.”


  Social/Fundraising events continue apace. I was unable to attend a very successful and enjoyable evening at the start of last month when ‘Fossil’ entertained the troops. Chairman Alan assures me that I missed a treat. However, later in the month I was able to attend a Talk-in with Alan Tait. When, at a meeting of the Club’s Management Committee, 1st Team Captain Gary offered to engage Alan there were blank looks from the majority of members present. For once I was on the ball and knew who Gary was talking about. Alan Tait is one of the ‘rare birds’ who not only played both codes of Rugby professionally but played them at international level! A Scot who grew up in Cumbria where his father played Rugby League, Alan played Rugby Union for Kelso and Scotland before playing Rugby League for Widnes, Leeds [that is why I remembered him]  and Great Britain. When Rugby Union became an honest professional game he went back to the 15 a-side game and played for Newcastle Falcons, Scotland and the British Lions. To cap it all he became Head Coach of the Kingston Park club. His Talk-in went very well. Alan regaled his audience of thirty or so with tales of his playing days [no doubt the ears of some famous players of both codes were ‘burning’] as well as enlightening listeners with his thoughts about the state of current Rugby Union e.g. players’ salaries, tactics, coaches etc.. It all made for a good evening. Thanks must go to Gary for his organisation.


  STOP PRESS! I am delighted to report that the Club finished in 1st Place in Tesco’s ‘Bags of Help’ January / February scheme thereby securing £4,000 for the development of it Practice Facilities. Well done everyone who dropped their tokens into the right box.


  Enjoy the season ahead!!               


April’s Cricket Quiz:- 

Cricket, TV and Music.

[a] Name the 1990s TV sitcom written about a cricket club, starring Robert Daws and Brenda Blethyn?

[b] Which band with a cricket-related name has written two concept albums about the game?

[c] Which Australian TV mogul’s attempt to revolutionise cricket was turned into a TV mini-series in 2012?

[d] Who performed the former BBC TV and now Test Match Special theme tune ‘Soul Limbo’?

[e] Which band sang in ‘Dreadlock Holiday’, ‘I don’t like cricket……. I love it’?

[f] Which impressionist did a cricket spoof of Paul Hardcastle’s ‘19’ called ‘N-N-Nineteen Not Out’?

Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 


Answers to March’s Cricket Quiz questions:-

Spin bowlers   

[a] Which bowler holds the record for the most wickets taken by a spinner in a Test Match? Jim Laker.

[b] What is Shane Warne’s middle name? Keith.

[c] Which Yorkshire and England spinner recorded the amazing figures of 10-10? Hedley Verity.

[d] Which county did Robert Croft play for?  Glamorgan.

[e] Which successful West Indian spinner was such a poor batsman that he never scored a half century in nearly twenty years of First-class Cricket? Lance Gibbs.

[f] Which English spinner had a career which spanned five decades, between his debut in 1949 and his last match in 1982? Fred Titmus.


     Finally, it is time for a few quotations. In recent editions Batting and Bowling have been the topics of chosen quotations. Time for Wicket-keeping and Fielding:-      


A wicket-keeper who is on his toes is likely to over-balance.

C.B.Ponsonby, Worcestershire, 1920s.


Jack, you’re not going home just because of a hat are you?’ 

Worried England off-spinner Robert Croft, visiting Jack Russell’s hotel bedroom during West Indies tour, 1998.  Russell’s preparations had been disrupted by the ECB’s insistence that he abandoned his old floppy sunhat in favour of ‘Team England’s’ new corporate issue.


You must rinse your hands in the chamber-pot every day. The urine hardens them wonderfully.’

Herbert Strudwick, former England wicket-keeper, offering advice to Tony Pawson of Oxford University.

[I could never find a chamber-pot, Editor.]


 ‘What is the good of an innings of 50 if that man drops a couple of catches and lets by 40 or 50 runs .He has not only wiped his own runs off the slate, but he has probably upset the bowlers into the bargain.

A.E.R.Gilligan, Cambridge University, Surrey and Sussex, getting wise to the advantage of good fielding, 1920s.



After working all day, I just go down to the river and catch the swallows as they flit by.

G.J.Bonnor [Australia], explaining his prowess as a slip to Sammy Woods.


When we first married, Derek used to throw tea cups behind his back and catch them. That’s one way he got out of doing the washing up .

Liz Randall, 1970s, on Derek Randall, the finest England fielder of his generation.


Thee get on with thi laikin’, and I’ll get on wi’ mine.

Emmott Robinson, of Yorkshire, when warned that he was standing dangerously close to the bat.

[For the benefit of non-Yorkshire readers, ‘laiking’ is ‘playing’. Editor.]


‘I only just have to perch myself at short leg and just stare at some of em to get em out. They fiddle about and look away and then they look back to see if I’m staring at em. I am. They don’t stay long.’

Brian Close.


Mike Rogers

March 2018.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


    As I begin to write this epistle the date is 24th February and the sun is shining through the window. However, the temperature outside is barely above freezing point. Given that the new season is just a few weeks away [April 14th], let us hope that the weather gods sorts themselves out and provide us with some ‘proper’ cricket weather. Last season was typical of recent seasons when promising Thursdays and Fridays quite often led to dank miserable Saturdays when that ‘extra layer’ of clothing earnt its corn. On such days I am reminded of Club legend Bert Steward and his comments upon inclement match day weather. Whilst donning extra sweaters Bert would pronounce that cricket wasn’t invented for such weather. On one occasion he suggested that the sportswear companies should get their acts together and come up with cricket clothing appropriate for the cold, windy, damp and thoroughly miserable weather in which we were attempting to play. No, I am certain he did not envisage the multi-coloured  pyjama outfits worn in T20 and One Day Cup matches! Back in the 1970s, long before cricketers wore ‘base layer’ garments, Club 1st Teamer Davy Gibson came up with a cracking idea. He wore a pair of his wife’s tights under his trousers! Of course the rest of the team thought this was hysterical but Davy always had the last laugh; he was the one with warm legs.


  The N&TCL Cup Draws have been announced. The 1st Team will play away to Leadgate in the Tyneside Charity Bowl and away to Greenside in the Thomas Wilson Memorial Cup [League Cup]. The 2nd Team has been drawn away to Lanchester in the Dr. Tom Barlow Memorial Cup [League Cup]. The absence of home ties is disappointing but, on the positive side, no long journeys. Hopefully the Club will be able to field full strength teams for the midweek games this year? 


  Congratulations on the birth of a daughter, Lily, to Club playing member Stephen Talbot and his wife Alison. As most readers will know, Alison is the daughter of Club Chairman Alan and his wife Susan. No doubt Lily will soon be joining the ever growing band of under-five year-olds who frequent the pavilion during the season. 1st Team Captain Gary’s suggestion some time ago of installing baby-changing facilities has proved to be a wise one.


  Hardened readers of these articles will know that I am one of a dozen or so Durham CCC members who commentate on matches to visually impaired people. They may also recall my account of attempting to give a commentary of a Durham match last season when the match was played with a pink ball and the fact that I could not see the damned thing. Last month my fellow commentators and I received the fixtures for the forthcoming season together with a request to indicate our availability. Scrutiny of the list revealed that yes, once again, there was to be a 4-Day County Championship match with a 2pm starting time each day. The ECB seem determined to make the day/night match a regular event. Did I make myself available to commentate on those days? No fear. I may be daft but I’m not stupid. [Feel free to discuss.] It is a case of once bitten, twice shy.


  I note with interest that workshops for match and club officials are to be held at Durham CCC’s Emirates Ground later this month. The purpose of the workshops is to explain Law Changes agreed by the MCC. No doubt state of the art technology will be used in association with commercially produced hand-outs to put across the message to the assembled throng gathered in the comfortable lounges of the Don Robson Pavilion. How different it was back in the early 1970s when Tyneside Senior League umpires, players and club officials met in the then humble environs of Burnopfield Community Centre [near to Lintz CC] to have a fundamental change to the LBW Law explained to them by none other than TSCL umpire Tom Fiddes. A good job he did too; without the benefit of DVD, overhead projection etc.. Perhaps I am wrong to pre-empt the presentations to be given later this month. Maybe a modern day Tom Fiddes will talk us through the changes. It matters not; as long as players, officials and spectators understand what is going on when matches actually begin.


  A few days have passed since I began to write this edition. As I finish it the sun is shining but there are 4” of snow outside with reports of more, much more, to come. March has come in like a lion; let us hope that it goes out like a lamb.                 


March’s Cricket Quiz:-

Spin bowlers   

[a] Which bowler holds the record for the most wickets taken by a spinner in a Test Match?

[b] What is Shane Warne’s middle name?

[c] Which Yorkshire and England spinner recorded the amazing figures of 10-10?

[d] Which county did Robert Croft play for?

[e] Which successful West Indian spinner was such a poor batsman that he never scored a half century in nearly twenty years of First-class Cricket?

[f] Which English spinner had a career which spanned five decades, between his debut in 1949 and his last match in 1982?

Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to February’s Quiz questions:-

Football and Cricket

[a] Which 1966 World Cup hero played one first-class match for Essex in 1962? Geoff Hurst

[b] Which England, Leicestershire and Yorkshire player played for Carlisle United, Doncaster Rovers and Huddersfield Town? Chris Balderstone

[c] Name the last double international to represent his country at football and cricket? Willie Watson

[d] Three men have represented Yorkshire and England at cricket and also played for Bradford City. Brian Close and Ken Taylor are two. Who was the other? David Bairstow

[e] Which Yorkshire and England player also played for Manchester United? Arnie Sidebottom

[f] Which striker played for the MCC against Germany at Lord’s, was out for a single but quipped, ‘I always score against the Germans.’ Gary Lineker


    Finally, it is time for a few quotations. The following have one topic in common -  BOWLING:-      


‘You can’t buy one of them at a local superstore – it takes years and years ’

Darren Gough speaking of a good One Day bowler.


‘I try to hit the batsman in the ribcage when I bowl a purposeful bouncer, and I want it to hurt so much that he doesn’t want to face me anymore.’

Dennis Lillee.


‘You must treat a cricket ball like a new bride.’ [??????  Editor.]

Mickey Stewart ,former England cricketer and England Team Manager.


‘To be a great fast bowler, you need a big heart and a big bottom .’

Fred Trueman.


‘I was once timed at 99.97 mph, but that’s rubbish, I was miles faster than that.’

Jeff Thompson, former Australian bowler, reputed to be the fastest ever.

[Faster than Wes Hall et al?  Editor.]


‘[Norman] Cowans should remember what happened to Graham Dilley, who started out as a genuinely quick bowler. They started stuffing ‘line and length’ into his ear, and now he has Dennis Lillee’s action with Denis Thatcher’s pace.’

Geoff Boycott.


‘Though essentially good-natured, he had that vital weapon in the fast bowler’s armoury, grumpiness.’

Simon Hughes describing Angus Fraser in ‘A lot of Hard Yakka’.




Mike Rogers



February 2018.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  In terms of income for the Club, 2018 has got away to an excellent start. A very enjoyable ‘Quiz Night’ presented by the newly installed captain of the Academicals  team, Ian Atkinson, saw very good bar sales which followed on from successful fundraising events towards the end of December. Club and Bar Treasurer Colin was wearing a smile the last time that I saw him and I do not believe it was down to wind. With regard to Ian’s quiz, the lady wife and I turned up for an 8.30 pm start; the customary starting time for the regular Saturday evening quizzes. On arrival we were shocked to find that the Bar was full and that we were an hour late. There were quite a few familiar faces participating, however, many people present were unknown to me. I found out later that the ‘strangers’ were some of Ian’s workmates. He must be a popular lad. Although, not for the first time, I was the oldest person in the room and some of the questions were geared towards a younger generation, I enjoyed the evening. Ian had put a great deal of work into the affair. The format, which included ‘spot prizes’, was popular with everyone and the atmosphere was good. Many of the newcomers to Blackfyne were impressed by the facilities and promised to return on the next occasion when Ian presented

a quiz. I am delighted to report that another one is in the pipe-line. Well done Ian.


  The 2018 N&TCL fixtures are now out! It has been a mammoth task for Paul Nesbitt [Shotley Bridge CC] to compile them. With approximately fifty clubs, some running two teams and some just one, the avoidance of having two teams from the same club in the same Division and the creation of a North / South divide for Second Teams, at times Paul must have wondered why he ever took on the challenge. The Club’s 1st Team will play Stocksfield for the very first time. For several years now the ‘jungle drums’ have been beating with news of the advancement of that club. I look forward to visiting the Stocksfield ground which apparently boasts two cricket fields. The Club’s 2nd Team will play Hebburn CC for the first time. My spies tell me that Hebburn’s home is what once was Reyrolle CC’s ground. I always enjoyed playing there and not just because of the fact that our 1st Team usually won there or because it was the venue for one of our League Cup Final victories. More often than not I had ‘good games’ myself, either with the gloves or the bat. However, I have to admit to one occasion when I did not enjoy my cricket there. The N&TSCL fixtures dictated that we should play Reyrolle at Hebburn on the same day as the FA Cup Final. My beloved Leeds United were to meet Sunderland in the Wembley Final. Back in 1973 football was not the global fixation that it is now. SKY TV had not even been thought of. The Cup Final, however, was shown live on BBC TV and [for those who could tolerate the excessive advertising], ITV. I never entertained the idea of missing a game of cricket in order to sit in front of a television set. Readers may remember that Leeds was then one of the top teams in the [old] First Division, FA Cup holders and odds-on to lift the trophy once again. Sunderland, on the other hand, was a Second Division team. Therefore as I took my position behind the stumps at half past two I was confident that in time I would be hearing groans from the Reyrolle players [Sunderland fans to a man] gathered around a transistor radio. The groans never came. Each new batsman received the same question from me as he took guard, “What’s the score?” After about an hour of cricket it was cheers and not groans emanating from the Reyrolle players. Even though I knew what the answer would be to my question to the next incoming batsman, “Have Sunderland scored?”, I felt reasonably assured that I would soon hear groans coming from the pavilion. Of course they never did.


  The Club has an ever-growing list of fundraising events planned including a ‘Talk-in’, Quiz Nights and various bands. The ‘Talk-in’ will be given by Alan Tait. Alan is a dual international Rugby player who played Rugby Union for Scotland and Rugby League for Great Britain. Further details of this and other events will appear on the Club website. To my knowledge Alan never played cricket to a high level but there were several First Class cricketers who played professional football.  See how you get on with the quiz below.


February’s Cricket Quiz:-

Football and Cricket

[a] Which 1966 World Cup hero played one first-class match for Essex in 1962?

[b] Which England, Leicestershire and Yorkshire player played for Carlisle United, Doncaster Rovers and Huddersfield Town?

[c] Name the last double international to represent his country at football and cricket?

[d] Three men have represented Yorkshire and England at cricket and also played for Bradford City. Brian Close and Ken Taylor are two. Who was the other?

[e] Which Yorkshire and England player also played for Manchester United?

[f] Which striker played for the MCC against Germany at Lord’s, was out for a single but quipped, ‘I always score against the Germans.’


Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to January’s Quiz questions:-

Sir Garry Sobers

[a] What is Garry Sobers’ full name?  Garfield St. Aubrun Sobers

[b] On which Caribbean island was he born?  Barbados

[c] In which Welsh city did Sobers hit his six sixes off Malcolm Nash in 1968 -  Cardiff or Swansea? Swansea

[d] For which English county did Sobers play? Nottinghamshire

[e] Who succeeded Sobers as West Indies captain for the 1972-3 home series versus Australia? Rohan Kanhai

[f] Which West Indies batsman did Sobers witness breaking his record for the highest score in Test cricket in Antigua in 1994?  Brian Lara


    Finally, it is time for a few quotations. The following have one subject in common -  BATTING.:-      


‘Cricket is a batsman’s game. The City of London has never emptied to watch a bowler as it did to watch Bradman. ’

E.W. ‘Jim’ Swanton, English cricket writer and commentator, [1907-2000].


‘It’s hard work making batting look effortless.’

David Gower.


‘I couldn’t bat for the length of time required to score 500. I’d get bored and fall over.’

Denis Compton, English cricketer,[1918-1997].


‘When I was watching Fred Astaire I used to think, here was a chap who would have been a great batsman.’

Sir Leonard Hutton, Yorkshire and England batsman, [1916-1990].


‘Whenever I saw Wally Hammond batting, I felt sorry for the ball.’

Sir Leonard Hutton.


‘When you win the toss – bat. If you are in doubt, think about it, then bat. If you have very big doubts, consult a colleague – then bat.’

W.G.Grace, English cricketer and doctor, [1848-1915].


‘They came to see me bat, not to see you bowl.’

W.G.Grace on refusing to leave the crease having been bowled out by the first ball.




Mike Rogers








January  2018.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  A Happy New Year to all readers! I hope that you were able to enjoy the Christmas and New Year festivities and that 2018 will be a good year for you and yours.


  I am delighted to start this edition with some good news. Neil and Gemma Williamson are now the proud parents of a son, James Philip, who was born last month. Apparently big sister Sophie is more than pleased with the turn of events although she does not like it when her little brother cries. Congratulations to mam, dad and grandparents.  Grandma Judith told me how pleased she was that Neil’s brother David was back home from his three months’ long round the world adventure in time to be able to welcome his nephew into the world.


  We have now reached that time in the close season when preparations for the forthcoming new season are in full swing. Equipment is being ordered, indoor nets have been booked and playing personnel have been confirmed. It is also the time when requests for sponsorship are cranked up. Club members of a certain age will remember the times when we looked on with envy at the clubs which had Bars. Yes, the times when our post-nets’ and post-match evenings were spent putting money over the bar in ‘The Cricketers’ [and one or two other hostelries]. Relying, as we did, on subscriptions, sponsored walks, jumble sales and Ernie’s Choice [remember that one?] etc. for our income, we thought that all our financial problems would be over if we had a Bar. A change in the ground’s ownership was quickly followed by the introduction of said Bar. We had finally reached the Promised Land  -  or so we thought. For more than a decade the Club prospered financially and remained competitive in the Tyneside Senior Cricket League. Although over the years one or two of the fourteen clubs left the TSCL, they were replaced immediately by clubs wishing to play in a better class of cricket. It was comforting for Club officials not to have the problem of wondering where the next penny was going to come from. There was money in the bank and out-goings were moderate. However, the formation of the Northumberland &Tyneside Senior Cricket League [a consequence of the establishment of the North East Premier League] was to change matters significantly. Promotion and relegation would now be on the agenda. In order to avoid the prospect of relegation the Club appointed its first professional [David Jackson] since the 1950s. Other professionals would follow. A change in League Rules allowed clubs to pay ‘reasonable expenses’ to players other than the named professional. The richer members of the League took advantage of this, the less well-off reluctantly assumed the role of also-rans. Hence the need for clubs, including our own, to explore all avenues of fundraising open to them. During the past year or two the Club has raised funds of a magnitude unheard of during my first tenure as Club Secretary in the

1970s from bar sales generated by a variety of events; the latest of such events being the appearance of ‘The Great Escape’ last month. Congratulations to all concerned. Club Treasurer Colin, the master of grant applications, has now been successful in securing another source of sponsorship viz. the Tesco Bags of Help scheme. Tesco customers will be given a plastic disc to put into one of three containers, each one promoting a local cause. The Club’s worthy cause is the building of outdoor all-weather nets. Hopefully the pile of discs will grow and grow and result in a large donation from Tesco. After all, ‘Every bit helps’. 


  The current weather [snow and ice everywhere] and the topic of sponsorship combined to create a reminiscence of an early venture into sponsorship which I faced way back in the ‘70s. As the newly appointed Club Secretary I was informed [well told actually] that it was my job to visit the sponsors of the Club’s fixture list and get the sponsors to ‘pay up’. The list of fixtures was printed on A3 size sheets of paper. Adverts relating to the businesses which sponsored the Club were printed around the border of the fixtures. The fixtures were then displayed in various shops, pubs and clubs in and around Consett. The cost of sponsorship? £5. One cold Saturday morning in January, with snow on the ground, I set off on my expedition. Using the previous year’s sheet as a guide I called on the previous year’s contributors. All went well with one or two exceptions. Joe Page, the coalman, and William Westgarth, the estate agent, made me ‘jump through hoops’ before parting with their fivers. Young and naïve as I was, I realised only some time later that they were having a laugh at my expense. It turned out that they had been fixture list sponsors for years, knew exactly what I was there for, but thought that they would make this ‘new kid on the block’ earn his money. I had to smile when the penny finally dropped. At least I like to think that I smiled.  


January’s Cricket Quiz:- 

Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 

Sir Garry Sobers

[a] What is Garry Sobers’ full name?

[b] On which Caribbean island was he born?

[c] In which Welsh city did Sobers hit his six sixes off Malcolm Nash in 1968 -  Cardiff or Swansea?

[d] For which English county did Sobers play?

[e] Who succeeded Sobers as West Indies captain for the 1972-3 home series versus Australia?

[f] Which West Indies batsman did Sobers witness breaking his record for the highest score in Test cricket in Antigua in 1994? 


 Answers to December’s Quiz questions:- 

Middle names.

Name the Test cricketer from his middle name. 

[a] Sewards  [England]  Fred Trueman  [b] Ramesh  [India]  Sachin Tendulkar

[c] Nathan [England]  Alastair Cook       [d] Willem [South Africa]  Dale Steyn 

 [e] Devereux  [Australia]  Steve Smith  [f] Ivon [England]   David Gower


     Finally, it is time for a few quotations. The following may best be described as a mixed bag:-        


 ‘Remember, linseed oil for your bat, olive oil for your lamb. ’

Allan Lamb, Northamptonshire & England. 


‘Sir, I was horrified to learn the other day that there is now a cricket club in Finland. I left England 25 years ago to get away from people like yourself. Is nowhere sacred?’  

Letter to the editor of ‘The Helsinki Cricketer’. 


‘It’s like Manchester United getting a penalty and Bryan Robson taking it with his head.’ 

David Lloyd on the reverse sweep.


 ‘I’ll turn the phone off and just watch Ceefax around midday.’

Graeme Swann on not being called up to play in the 2005 Ashes squad.


‘I don’t think I’ve actually drunk a beer for 15 years, except a few Guinnesses in Dublin, where it’s the law.’   

Ian Botham.


‘Wouldn’t it be better if I got in the fridge?’

Qasim Omar, former Pakistan, Sacriston CC & Annfield Plain CC batsman, receiving ice-pack treatment for bruises caused by Australian fast bowlers.




Mike Rogers


December 2017. 


Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings. 


Unfortunately I must begin this edition on a sombre note. Club Life Member Billy Wilkinson and former Club player John Handy passed away last month. 

I was unable to attend John’s funeral. However, I was pleased to learn that the Club was represented. John transferred from South Moor CC in 1984, going on to play for the Club for several more fruitful years. Some readers will remember John as Chief Steward at Durham CCC’s Riverside Ground. A role in which he thrived. An attacking batsman, the Club was delighted when he left the Quaking Houses’ ground for our Blackfyne. His arrival at the Club, however, coincided with my premature retirement from the game and the ‘moving on’ of a few other members of the victorious 1st Team of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. A year or two after his arrival he told me how disappointed he had been to find that some of the Club’s players whom he had got know in opposition were no longer to be seen in Blackfyne’s ‘Home’ dressing room. However, he had made the best of it and was enjoying his cricket. 

The day after John’s funeral members of Billy’s family and friends gathered at Mountsett Crematorium to pay their respects to his memory. The fact that the congregation was so large was testimony, in itself, of the esteem in which Billy was held. The eulogy, written by his wife Joy, was read with feeling by daughter-in-law Lesley. Billy’s loyalty, tenacity, love of his family and humour shone through. The congregation could not stop itself from laughing when Lesley read Joy’s words about Billy’s romantic side. Apparently when wedding anniversaries came around Billy would give some money to Joy and tell her that if she were going up to Consett she could buy herself some flowers! Reference was also made to Billy circling Blackfyne on Saturdays with his collection box. I can see him doing it now as I write this. Joy was too modest to write about the hours which she and Billy put in at the Club doing the cleaning. They were both great workers for the Club. Condolences go to Joy, son David, daughter-in law Lesley and grandchildren Simon and Victoria. 

Welcome to the world William Horn, son of Stephen and wife Holly. Young William [weighing in at ten pounds plus] was born last month. Congratulations to the proud parents and grandparents. So you see, last month was not all doom and gloom. 

The Club AGM, held on 20th November, was well attended. Business was over and done with in just 35 minutes, the way it should be. It was agreed unanimously to increase the annual subscriptions. This was the first increase for five years. Five years in which all other costs to the Club have increased, some significantly. When golf club membership costs me about £500 a year [as it does], I do not think that our Club playing members are getting a raw deal, even with the increase. Later the same evening the Weekly Draw was held. The prize money had escalated to £95 and I am delighted to report that I had the winning number! Those readers of this epistle not present that evening must have heard the chorus of delight for me coming from those 

who were present. Well, maybe not. 

One of the costs referred to in the previous paragraph is, of course, the maintenance of the buildings. The Management Committee was concerned about suspected leakages of rainwater through the roof of the pavilion. Last month the roof was inspected. Missing/damaged roof tiles were found to be the cause of the problem. Repairs were made and a bill of more than £500 was received. Keeping the Club going does not come cheap. 

On the evening following the Club AGM Chairman Alan and I drove to Kingston Park, home of Newcastle Falcons RUFC to represent the Club at the final AGM of the Northumberland & Tyneside Senior Cricket League and the Inaugural meeting of the new League created by the amalgamation of the N&TSCL and the Northumberland County League [NCL]. It turned out to be a strange affair indeed. The N&TSCL AGM lasted no longer than 15 minutes during which various previously circulated reports were accepted and the League President, Bob Jackson, thanked the League’s officers and Past Chairmen for their work. Bob was then thanked for his work over many years by past Chairman Andrew Morgan [Ponteland CC]. All seemed to be going well. We had about half an hour to kill before we were to meet with our new friends from the NCL in another room. That is when, as far as I am concerned, things went downhill and became rather farcical. The other room turned out to be enormous, a real barn of a place. Comfortable, warm enough, expensively furnished but huge. Well, it had to be large to accommodate the representatives from the fifty or so clubs which now are members of the new League. Seats were taken and the meeting began. I will have to wait until the minutes of the meeting are circulated to understand what went on after I had sat down. The reason for my lack of comprehension? I could not hear much of what was said. I know that I am not in the first flush of youth but although my eye-sight is poor, my hearing is pretty good. The failure to hear what the speakers were saying was because no microphones were present. Bob Jackson opened the meeting by introducing himself and other members of the top table. I could not hear a word. I recognised Paul Lee, who until half an hour before had been the Secretary of the N&TSCL, but could not catch the names of the other members at the table. I gather that they were members of the defunct NCL executive. The meeting continued in the same vein for another half an hour or so during which other speakers did their best to impart knowledge to the masses without the help of a microphone. During the previous N&TSCL AGM we had been told that there was to be no debate regarding the previously circulated Constitution, Match Rules etc. of the new League. Just as well given the fact that questions from the floor would probably not have been heard by the League Executive nor would replies from the League Executive be heard by club representatives. A strange evening indeed. 


December’s Cricket Quiz:- 

Middle names. [ 

Name the Test cricketer from his middle name. 

[a] Sewards [England] [b] Ramesh [India] [c] Nathan [England] 

[d] Willem [South Africa] [e] Devereux [Australia] [f] Ivon [England] 

Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 


Answers to November’s Quiz questions:- 

All Sorts 

[a] Who succeeded Clive Lloyd as West Indies captain? Alvin Kallicharran 

[b] What is Ian Botham’s middle name? Terence 

[c] Which former England Test batsman won ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in 2006? Mark Ramprakash 

[d] “ “ “ “ “ didn’t win it in 2012? Michael Vaughan 

[e] The Currie Cup is the First Class domestic tournament in which country? S.Africa 

[f] In which year did the Indian Premier League start? 2008 


Finally, it is time for a few quotations. Biased I may be, but I believe that some of the wittiest prose is written about cricket and written by the members of the Press. I offer the following:- 


‘A second boundary, taken off the hip by a shaky batsman [Hick], had roughly the effect on Ambrose that the sight of alcohol seems to have on ayatollahs. ’ 

Peter Roebuck in ‘The Sunday Times’. 


‘Cricket must be the only business where you can make more money on one day than three.’ 

Pat Gibson, Irish-born leading British quiz player, in the ‘Daily Express’. 


‘It was like seeing the future and realizing that it worked.’ 

Ian Woolridge, English journalist, on Ben Hollioake, in ‘The Independent’. 


‘[Gower wore] an expression of pained bewilderment, like a man who’s just stepped into a lift-shaft.’ 

Michael Henderson, English journalist, on David Gower in Derby v Leicester, in ‘The Guardian’. 


‘[Courtney Walsh], who has effectively lost West Indies both their matches, was presented with a carpet for running out Salim Jaffer off the final ball. He was last seen trying to fly home on it.’ 

Martin Johnson in ‘The Independent’. 


‘It was not unlike watching Lazarus rise from the dead and get mown down by a runaway truck on his way to meet his mates in the bar. ’ 

Ian Woolridge on New Zealand’s performance versus Pakistan in the 1992 World Cup in the ‘Daily Mail’. 




Mike Rogers



November 2017. 


Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings. 

The Club’s Senior Presentation Evening was held last month. This Presentation Evening should not be confused with the identical event held earlier in the year. It was decided to hold the event closer to the end of the season rather than staging it in the winter months as has been the case in recent years. A reasonably full Bar was in attendance to witness reviews of season 2017 presented by the captains of the four senior teams:- Gary Hunter [1st Team], Ian ‘never short of a word or ten’ Cox [standing in for 2nd Team Capt. David Williamson ], Ian Cox again [3rd Team] and Colin McPherson [Academicals Team]. Presentations were made by Club President Gordon Hunter. It was the general opinion of those present that Gary stole the show with his comprehensive, amusing and, at times, inspirational speech. Winners of the awards were Kamran Mansoor [1st Team Player of the Year and winner of the Colin Leedham Cup for bowling], Andy Stokoe [Philip Williamson Trophy for batting, presented by Neil Williamson], Ryan O’Neill [2nd Team Player of the Year], Jamie Bradley [Eric Topham Trophy for bowling], Ian Cox [3rd Team Player of the Year], Ian Atkinson [Academicals Player of the Year] and Stephen Turnbull [Gus Robinson Rosebowl for Club member of the Year, presented by Club Chairman Alan]. Congratulations one and all. For the writer it was a long night restricted as I was to soft drinks due to having to drive home. I left at 10.20 just as a delicious curry [courtesy of Kamran] was being served. Thanks to all concerned for a good evening. 

What did you make of the decision regarding confirmation by the ECB of Middlesex’s relegation from the 1st Division of the County Championship? Missed out on that one? Late on in the season the Surrey v Middlesex match had been suspended and then abandoned when person or persons unknown had fired a crossbow bolt onto the field at The Oval while the match was in progress. Middlesex had been bowling when play was suspended and were down on their over rate. Both Clubs were told that they would not suffer because of the abandonment. However, some time later Middlesex were docked two points because of the slow over rate and were subsequently relegated having finished the season one point behind Somerset. Quite rightly, in my not so humble opinion, Middlesex appealed against that decision given the fact that the abandonment of the match had not allowed them the opportunity to improve the over rate. Middlesex Director of Cricket, former England bowler Gus Fraser, led the appeal. Now some readers may remember that Gus always wore a doleful expression during his long bowling stints. Given the ECB’s rejection of Middlesex’s appeal ‘doleful’ may not be an accurate description of his demeanour upon hearing the verdict. I am unaware of whether or not Middlesex appealed against the docking of the two points at the time. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. If they didn’t then probably they should have. Whatever was the case it does seem unjust that they were relegated ultimately because of the criminal actions of a stranger[s]. 


In last month’s edition I reported an incident which had occurred at the Newcastle City v Consett 1st Team match. You may recall that a Newcastle City player had informed me, Club President Gordon and former Club skipper Tommy Nichol that Consett had definitely engaged Stuart Graham for season 2018. In addition he identified two other recruits. Well, I am delighted to report that Stuart will indeed be returning to the Club having done his missionary work on the foreign fields of Leadgate, Tynedale and Shotley Bridge. It will be good to have him and his parents, Geoff and Susan, back in the fold. The N’cle City player also correctly identified the other two players. At the time of that player’s revelation negotiations with the three players were still on-going. Nothing had been agreed. How did that N’cle City player know the Club’s business? Please do not send the answer to my question on a postcard, there are spies around. 

Meetings, meetings and more meetings. The Club’s AGM is to be held on Monday 20th November. Hopefully there will be a good attendance. On the following evening I expect to be attending two meetings. The first of these will be the final AGM of the Northumberland & Tyneside Senior Cricket League [N&TSC]. This will be followed by the Inaugural meeting of the new League created by the amalgamation of the N&TSCL and the Northumberland County League [NCL]. The venue for the two meetings? Kingston Park, home of Newcastle Falcons RUFC. I suggest that with 93 teams drawn from 51 clubs the new Northumberland & Tyneside Cricket League would find it difficult to find a cricketing venue with a room large enough to seat an anticipated attendance of more than 100 Club representatives and League officials. It could well be a case of, ‘Speak up at the front, we can’t hear you at the back!’ During my first spell as Club Secretary back in the 1970s League meetings were held either at Swalwell CC [old ground] or Greenside CC. In recent years Greenside has hosted both League Management Committee [all the 24 clubs] meetings as well as the AGMs. As recorded several times by the writer in previous editions, times change. It appears the same fate applies to venues. 


November’s Cricket Quiz:- 

All Sorts 

[a] Who succeeded Clive Lloyd as West Indies captain? 

[b] What is Ian Botham’s middle name? 

[c] Which former England Test batsman won ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in 2006? 

[d] “ “ “ “ “ didn’t win it in 2012? 

[e] The Currie Cup is the First Class domestic tournament in which country? 

[f] In which year did the Indian Premier League start? 

Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 


Answers to October’s Quiz questions:- 

All Sorts 

[a] Name the Australian term for ‘extras’? Sundries 

[b] Which county plays its home matches at Grace Road? Leicestershire 

[c] Which English bowler took a hat-trick against the West Indies in Barbados in 2004? Matthew Hoggard 

[d] Which umpire was famous for hopping around superstitiously when the score was 111? Former Gloucestershire batsman David Shepherd 

[e] What is Marcus Trescothick’s nickname? Banger 

[f] One for the true cricket historians:- Which England cricketer started out batting at number 11 but ended up opening the batting in a number of Test matches with success? Yorkshire legend Wilfred Rhodes 


Finally, it is time for a few quotations. If you have logged on to the Club website to read this article there is more than a good chance that you are a cricket lover. After all you have not taken the trouble to press a button or two to read my literary offerings. As a lover of the game you may appreciate [I hope] the following quotations regarding ‘The joys of cricket’:- 


‘Watching cricket has given me more happiness than any other activity in which I have engaged. Lord’s on a warm day, with a bottle, a mixed bag of sandwiches and a couple of spare tyres in a dispatch case, and I don’t care who is playing whom. ’ 

A.A. Milne, English author [1882-1956]. 

‘There is no talk, none so witty and brilliant, that is so good as cricket talk, when memory sharpens memory, and the dead live again – the regretted, the forgotten – and the old happy days of burnt out Junes revive.’ 

Andrew Lang, Scottish poet and novelist [1844-1912]. 

‘Cricket is indescribable. How do you describe an orgasm?’ 

Greg Matthewsl, former Australian cricketer. 

‘To go to a cricket match for nothing but cricket is as though a man were to go into an inn for nothing but drink. ’ 

Neville Cardus. 

‘The love of cricket nowadays seems to be confined to those who watch it or read about it.’ 

Arthur Mailey, Australian cricketer [1886-1957]. 

‘In my opinion cricket is too great a game to think about statistically.’ 

E.H. ’Patsy’ Hendren, English cricketer [1889-1962]. 

‘But after all, it’s not the winning that matters, is it? It’s – to coin a word – the amenities that count: the smell of the dandelions, the puff of the pipe, the click of the bat, the rain on the neck, the chill down the spine, the slow, exquisite coming on of sunset and dinner and rheumatism. ’ 

Alastair Cooke, English-born American journalist and broadcaster [1908-2004]. 




Mike Rogers


October  2017.

  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  I am delighted to begin this edition with good news. The 1st Team completed its season with two more victories thereby making season 2017 one of the most successful for several years. Details of the Club’s playing and off the field performances throughout the year will be reported at the Club’s AGM scheduled for Monday 20th November. Yes, I know that you find it difficult to contain your excitement at the prospect of the AGM but you will have to learn to be patient. Suffice to report at this time that the Club is in a very healthy state.

  It will not come as a surprise to regular readers of this ‘blog’ [I bet you did not know that I understood such terms] to learn that the satisfaction expressed in the opening paragraph will not be maintained in several ensuing paragraphs. Time for a grumble.

  The close season it may be, but open season for rumours it certainly is. Of what do I write?  Statements from many ‘in the know’ that Player A is definitely moving to Club X next season.  At a recent match I was told which player[s] the Club would retain and which player[s] would be joining the Club from elsewhere. Who told me? A person who claimed to be an agent. Agents in local cricket! What is the game coming to? I could not resist ridiculing the man by telling him that he had missed out one new recruit to our ranks viz. Kevin Pietersen. The agent probably believed me. Of course I did not reveal the identity of the Club’s genuine new recruit ………………… Joe Root. Come on now, stop being silly. Since the game began way back in the mists of time cricketers have moved from clubs. Some for money, others to play in a higher class of cricket, others because they did not enjoy playing at their current clubs. ‘Agents’ were confined to show business, insurance or selling houses. Nowadays money is often the deciding factor. Shame. Club members of my generation will remember the League Championship winning sides of the 1970s and 1980s when all players were paid exactly the same amount of money ….. nothing. It was a time when the Club relied upon subscriptions, raffles, sponsored walks and jumble sales to balance the books. Therefore the idea of appointing a professional was never considered. Throughout the ‘70s good amateur players were attracted to the Club because of its good wickets and playing facilities and by the prospect of playing in an ever improving team. In those days the Tyneside Senior League’s rules prevented payment to more than one player per club. The totally amateur Club teams of the ‘70s and ‘80s took great pride in winning League competitions and the Austin Trophy at the expense of clubs who paid players. Me?  I was never good enough to be paid to play. However, acting captain Bob Thornton did buy a pint for me at Easington CC by way of congratulating me for my contribution of 68 in the cup-tie played that evening.  Payment in kind?  

 It takes a great deal of money to run any cricket club, expenditure rises every year. To run a County Cricket Club costs a fortune. All eighteen First Class Counties rely on a variety of fundraising avenues.  One such avenue is the business of hospitality boxes. At Durham’s Riverside ground there are plenty of them. Most of them are in use for T20 and Cup matches bringing in a great amount of much needed money. Few, however, are occupied during County Championship matches. As some readers may know, I am one of a dozen or so Durham CCC members who give commentaries to visually impaired members and guests voluntarily. As a rule we sit outside one of the boxes between our ‘clients’ and commentate on the match. The noise levels emanating from guests ensconced in neighbouring hospitality boxes equate to the          amount of amber fluid consumed by the groups in the boxes; the longer the day, the noisier it gets. Although the noise is a distraction, we commentators are able to grit our teeth and get on with the job in hand. Unfortunately this was not the case last month when Durham entertained  Kent. The match was well into its final session with Kent batting to save the match when an appeal for a run out was turned down. Several occupants of a nearby box got to their feet and shouted abuse at the umpire for turning down the appeal. ‘You’re in the ECB’s pocket!’ was just one of the frantic claims. Not only was such behaviour disgraceful, it came from men who appeared to know little about cricket or who could see around corners. They, like the commentators, were sitting [or standing] side-on to the wicket. The wicket-keeper had removed the bails with his back to us thereby preventing us from judging whether or not the player was out of his ground. The umpire gave the decision from square leg and had enjoyed a perfect view. Matters grew worse when Durham were running out of time to take all ten wickets. Wickets did fall but at least one incoming batsman was greeted to the field with cries of, ‘Pressure! Pressure! You can’t take the pressure!’ This knowledge was delivered by a man in his sixties while leaning over the balcony! While this was going on my co-commentator shouted across to the inebriate asking him not to abuse the opposition. His pleas fell on deaf ears.Some time later a steward appeared on the scene. We called him over to us and we explained what had occurred. The steward  asked the inhabitants of the hospitality box to leave the balcony while he talked to them. A few minutes later they reappeared only for the leader of the pack [the man in his sixties] to deliver a tirade of abuse in our direction for ‘shopping’ him. The moral of this true story? Hospitality boxes bring in the money …………. but at a cost!       

  Having endured that experience at a cricket match I was pleased to watch a game of Rugby Union at Corbridge a week or two later when Tynedale played Huddersfield. The old saying of ‘Rugby is a game for hooligans played by gentlemen’ was never more true than at Corbridge on that day. A rough, tough match was played out in front of partisan fans who enjoyed their afternoon without resorting to the abuse of players, officials or supporters of the opposing team.  

  The problem of dogs on our cricket field was brought to my attention earlier this year by a lady, herself  a dog-walker.  Dogs were being let off the lead and were leaving their ‘calling-cards’ on the field. The Club’s voluntary groundsmen confirmed this problem, informing the Committee that they were constantly removing the offending material prior to matches. You will be pleased to know that as a result of discussions with local councilors and Durham County Council appropriate signage has been displayed at the ground and Dog Wardens have been alerted. Sincere thanks must go to David Wilkinson who led the campaign to get to the bottom of this problem. Ouch!  


  October’s Cricket Quiz:- 

All Sorts

[a] Name the Australian term for ‘extras’?

[b] Which county plays its home matches at Grace Road?

[c] Which English bowler took a hat-trick against the West Indies in Barbados in 2004?

[d] Which umpire was famous for hopping around superstitiously when the score was 111?

[e] What is Marcus Trescothick’s nickname?

[f] One for the true cricket historians:- Which England cricketer started out batting at number 11 but ended up opening the batting in a number of Test matches with success? 

Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 

 Answers to September’s Quiz questions:- 

West Indies Test cricket.

[a] Which West Indian wicket-keeper holds his nation’s record for most Test Match dismissals?  Jeffrey  Dujon

[b] The West Indies highest innings total came in 1958 v Pakistan when they declared at 790-3. Name the batsman who was undefeated on a then world record of 365? Gary Sobers

[c] West Indies great Brian Lara holds the record for the highest score in first-class cricket of 501, playing for which English county? Warwickshire

[d] Which West Indies spinner became the first slow bowler to take 300 Test wickets?  Lance Gibbs

[e] West Indies won their first Test series in England in 1950. Spinner Sonny Ramadhin and which other spinner took 59 wickets between them in that series?    

Alf Valentine

     Finally, it is time for a few quotations. As they look back on the past season the Club’s players will remember their own and their team’s highs and lows. I have selected a few quotations of former First Class cricketers reflecting upon their good days and bad. I hope that you will enjoy them.      


 ‘If my grandfather was alive, he would have slaughtered a cow ’

Makhaya Ntini, South African cricketer, after taking 5 for 75 in the second innings against England at Lord’s.

‘Yesterday at The Oval had to be the most thrilling moment of my life…. perhaps after the birth of my children.’  

Gladstone Small, former English cricketer, on the England Ashes win of 2005.   

‘I can’t really say I’m batting badly, I’m not batting long enough to be batting badly.’ 

Greg Chappell, former Australian cricketer.  

 ‘You should play every game as if it’s your last, but make sure you perform well enough to ensure that it’s not. ’

John Emburey, former English cricketer.



September 2017.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  With only two more League fixtures to be played it will soon be time to look back on the season.  Highs and lows for all of the senior teams and for individual players. Such ruminations can wait. For the present I will be content with the fact that the 1st Team has won more League matches already this season than it has ever done since its promotion to Division A1. Last month’s victories at Tynedale and Ryton and at home to Leadgate contributed to this excellent achievement.


  The victory at Tynedale proved, once again, that cricket is a team game. Both teams were not at full strength for a variety of reasons. The game itself ebbed and flowed with each side enjoying spells of superiority. A partnership between Andy Stokoe and Club professional Kamran Mansour appeared to have put the Club on course for a comfortable win only for a middle-order collapse to lift the spirits of the home supporters. Despite Paul Ringer’s 34, the prospect of an away win looked remote. Enter 3rd Team captain Ian Cox, batting at number 10. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Ian enjoyed a partnership with the experienced Dan Milligan to see the Club ‘over the line’ to win by two wickets! Why ‘team game’? There are times when players believe that they are just ‘making up the numbers’. Some even exclude themselves from selection for that reason. The truth is that all eleven players in the team have a part to play. For some it may be a major role, for others a minor one. Now and again a member of the supposed latter category may be called upon to produce the goods at a vital time e.g. taking a catch, saving runs in the field, scoring runs at a crucial time etc.. A case of a member of the chorus line playing a starring role.     


  With regard to the match at Ryton three items will remain in my memory. Andy Stokoe’s innings of 85 [we all thought he must get a century], Kamran’s quick-fire fifty and the fact that the match was played in almost gale force winds. I played in snow, fog and [famously at Greenside] in a full blown thunderstorm but cannot recall ever having played in a gale. How the bails remained on the stumps was inexplicable.


  The weather this season has not been at its best. Therefore the good forecast for the match at home to Leadgate lifted my spirits. However, hopes of an afternoon and early evening spent in the sun were quickly dispelled when the match began. 1st Team captain Gary’s decision to field paid dividends in spades. An under strength Leadgate were shot out for 50! Tea was taken before the runs required for victory were made for the loss of one wicket in double quick time. The whole affair [starting at 12.30] was over and done with at half past three. One spectator, in particular, had just cause to feel short changed by the turn of events. Club Life member Walter Armstrong had driven up from his home in Ormskirk! It was good to see Walter again, a slim-line Walter I may say. He puts his sylph-like body down to sensible portions of food. Now there is a lesson for us all. Although eleven wickets fell during the match, I actually saw only three. The reason for this was that my wife, Ann, was making the teas that day. I spent most of the playing time helping her to get all ready for the perceived premature tea; buttering scones, slicing pork pies, waving a tea towel in the air to turn off the fire alarm, glancing at the scoreboard to tell her how many wickets had fallen etc..


  Three events in particular boosted Club funds enormously last month; all taking  place over the course of one week-end. On the Friday evening the Club hosted the final of the Eric Topham Trophy with Shotley Bridge coming out winners over Lanchester. Eric’s widow, Club Life member Joan, was present to see Bill Stokoe [former Consett and Shotley Bridge cricketer] hand over the Trophy to Shotley’s captain Stuart Graham. The majority of the large crowd drawn mainly from the two finalists made full use of the Bar! The following evening saw a marquee ‘packed to the rafters’ [had there been any rafters] to enjoy the music presented by two ‘live’ bands, ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘Honest Jack’. Although sitting in a marquee drinking beer from a can while having to shout into my neighbour’s ear to engage in conversation was not my ideal way of spending a Saturday evening, the majority of the 200+ present appeared to enjoy themselves. Yes, it is an age thing. The marquee was in action again the following day when the Blackhill Bounders Running Club held its Fun Day. I am told that the Bar did very well on that occasion too. All in all a successful week-end which certainly put a smile on Club Treasurer Colin’s face. Many thanks to all concerned in staging the events.     


  During the current Test series members of both the England and West Indies teams have received ‘de-merits’ for swearing. Swearing not directly at other players or at umpires but swearing out loud because of their own frustration. Such outbursts were picked up by the stump microphone but, as far as I know, were not audible to the spectators. The idea of imposing the sanction of de-merits [penalty points] which in turn could lead to a suspension may seem excessive. Personally, I like Graeme Swann’s idea of a charity swear-box whereby culprits would pay a fine of £1,000 to charity. What about our own game? Swearing on the field has always occurred and, no doubt, always will. However, I can remember when all sorts of language were used ‘in the middle’ without spectators being aware of it. Sadly, that is not the case nowadays. In recent weeks I have heard expletives issued across the ground from individual players who have dropped a catch, misfielded a ball, bowled a bad ball which has yielded a boundary etc.. Now that never used to happen. It is true that expletives were said by players but, here is the difference, they were said to themselves and not for the whole of the ground to hear. Those readers who know me will agree that I am not a prude. Nevertheless, I object to such outbursts when ladies and children are in ear-shot. In general I am supportive of umpires but wish that they would take action to eliminate such crude outbursts from our game. End of sermon.       


September’s Cricket Quiz:-

West Indies Test cricket.

[a] Which West Indian wicket-keeper holds his nation’s record for most Test Match dismissals?

[b] The West Indies highest innings total came in 1958 v Pakistan when they declared at 790-3. Name the batsman who was undefeated on a then world record of 365?

[c] West Indies great Brian Lara holds the record for the highest score in first-class cricket of 501, playing for which English county?

[d] Which West Indies spinner became the first slow bowler to take 300 Test wickets?

[e] West Indies won their first Test series in England in 1950. Spinner Sonny Ramadhin and which other spinner took 59 wickets between them in that series?  

Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to August’s Quiz questions:-

South Africa’s Test cricket.

[a] Who is South Africa’s most successful Test captain [most Test wins]? Graeme Smith

[b] Which South African wicketkeeper holds the record for the most Test Match dismissals of any nation?  Mark Boucher

[c] In which year did the ICC vote to suspend South Africa from international cricket because of its government’s policy of apartheid? 1970

[d] As a result of the ban, which South African batsman was restricted to playing only four test matches at an average of 72.57?  Barry Richards

[e] Former South African captain Kepler Wessels played for which other Test nation?   Australia


    Finally, it is time for a few quotations. Earlier in this edition I reported upon the Final of the Eric Topham Trophy. Eric enjoyed his playing days and, I believe, his many days ‘wearing the white coat’. By umpiring well for so many years he put a lot back into local cricket after his playing career was brought to a sudden end due to injury. He was a good umpire, never one to seek the limelight. It is fitting therefore that the subject of the following quotations is an umpire who was not averse to being the centre of attention.    


‘When I step across the boundary rope, it’s the only time I feel in total control. ’

Dickie Bird.


‘They sure like their tea, these English.’

Scottish tannoy announcer, in Perth, as Dickie Bird’s confusion over rule changes caused him to call two tea intervals in a Benson & Hedges tie between Scotland and Yorkshire, 1984.  


‘It’s not just wet, it’s wet,wet,wet.’

Dickie Bird, borrowing from contemporary pop music to explain a stoppage in the Headingley Test because of a blocked drain, 1988. 


‘Oslear* found something in the rules to get off the pitch because of the cold last year, but I can’t find the bloody thing! ’

Dickie Bird, umpiring at Derby. * Don Oslear was a respected First-Class umpire.


‘Maybe it’s my false teeth, Dickie. I’ll take them out if you like. ’

Old Trafford spectator as Dickie Bird searched frantically for the source of reflected sunlight which was holding up the Old Trafford Test, England v West Indies, 1995. 



‘Cricket’s my wife.’

Dickie Bird, 1995.


‘He arrived on earth from Planet Looney to become the best and fairest of all umpires. Great bloke, completely bonkers. ’

Ian Botham describing Dickie Bird in his autobiography, 1994.


‘ Ee lad, tha’s a bit of a character. Tha could ave been a great comedian thissen.’

Albert Modley, music-hall comedian, to another famous son of Barnsley, Dickie Bird.




Mike Rogers







August 2017.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  Given the frequent references made to BBC Radio’s ‘Test Match Special’ [TMS] in previous editions, as TMS celebrates its 60th Anniversary this summer I feel duty bound to refer to it once again. During its coverage of the 3rd England v South Africa Test Match, TMS broadcast a collection of listeners’ memories of the programme. Listeners stated their lengths of ‘addiction’ to TMS and where they had been when listening to some of the ‘highlights’. References were made to Agnew and Johnston’s ‘Leg over’ hysterics, Boycott’s hundredth hundred, Botham’s Test at Headingley etc., etc.. My own memory goes way back to the birth of TMS in 1957. During the sixty years since then I have listened to TMS in various locations both at home and on holiday and at various times of the day and night.


  Back to 1957 and my grandfather’s garden in Hawksworth, Leeds. Working in the heat and noise of Kirkstall Forge [where parts for tanks among other things were made] day after day, my grandad enjoyed being outdoors in his beloved garden as often as he could. Gardening was one of his passions; Cricket and Rugby League were the other two. That particular warm summer’s day found the pair of us in his garden; grandad digging, planting, pruning etc. and yours truly ‘helping’. Grandad kept his gardening tools in a former Anderson air-raid shelter in the garden. ‘Oh! Test Match’s on.’ announced grandad. With that he disappeared into the shelter and reappeared with a portable radio. The rest of the afternoon was spent listening to the commentary of the England / West Indies Test live from Edgbaston. Not one wicket fell but I was hooked. ‘Edgbaston’ to this young lad might as well have been a ground in Outer Space but the descriptive commentary, the voices of the commentators and the sound of bat on ball transfixed me. It was to be much later when I appreciated the significance of what I had been listening to. It had been just part of a match-saving stand of 411 made by Peter May and Colin Cowdrey. The pair had blunted the previously ‘unplayable’ off-spin of Sonny Ramadhin  by frequently padding away balls pitched outside the off-stump. In due course this tactic would lead to a change in the LBW Law, but then it was perfectly legal and negated Ramadhin’s menace. Happy memories.


  A combination of bad weather, personal illness and family commitments  severely restricted my cricket-watching last month. However, I was able to attend the 1st Team’s match at Percy Main on 8th July.  Percy Main’s St. John’s Green ground is one of my favourite venues. Moreover, its close proximity to the Royal Quays shopping outlet is a major factor in the lady wife’s decision to accompany me to the Club’s fixtures at that ground.  On this occasion, however, family obligations  deprived her from joining me on the trek to South East Northumberland. I was flying solo. No lover of driving through Newcastle on a Saturday lunch-time  [or at any other time if the truth be told], I had devised a cunning plan which would enable me to have lunch en route and avoid heavy traffic. Putting the plan in motion proved a disappointment. An early lunch at Shiremoor failed to live up to expectations. Never mind, thought I, the Percy Main ground was only five minutes away courtesy of the the route which I had used successfully on  previous occasions. This route avoided both the ‘bottle-neck’ of the Silverlink roundabout and the busy Coast Road. Perfect. As it turned out I was more than halfway there when I came upon a diversion which took me on to the Coast Road with its major roadworks snarl-up of traffic. This was followed by a circuitous journey around the roads of North Shields until I finally reached the ground. I was not alone in having had problems. Club President Gordon had encountered delays because of roadworks on his journey to the ground. However, that was not to be the end of the story. Tea-time arrived and Gordon set off to the North Shields Fish Quay to enjoy some fish and chips as he had done last season. He arrived back at the ground more than an hour later with a tale of woe. His ‘five minute’ trip down to the Fish Quay had ended up with Gordon in the middle of hundreds [possibly thousands] of people enjoying a Festival. The queues to all of the fish shops stretched out onto the street. The fish restaurants were full to overflowing. Gordon, determined to have his fish and chips, finally secured a seat in one of the restaurants. However, at a price – he had missed the fall of several Percy Main wickets! When it came to both Gordon’s and my experiences that day it was, as Robert Burns wrote, ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’          


August’s Cricket Quiz:-

South Africa’s Test cricket.

[a] Who is South Africa’s most successful Test captain [most Test wins]?

[b] Which South African wicketkeeper holds the record for the most Test Match dismissals of any nation?

[c] In which year did the ICC vote to suspend South Africa from international cricket because of its government’s policy of apartheid?

[d] As a result of the ban, which South African batsman was restricted to playing only four test matches at an average of 72.57?

[e] Former South African captain Kepler Wessels played for which other Test nation? 

Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to July’s Quiz questions:-

Name the Test Match Special commentator:-

[a] Which TMS commentator was known as ‘The Boil’? Trevor Bailey

[b]                                       was christened ‘The Alderman’ by Brian Johnson?  Don Mosey

[c] Who holds the record for the being the longest serving TMS commentator, between 1973 and 2012?  Christopher Martin-Jenkins

[d] Which famous TMS commentator’s distinctive voice was once described as an ‘articulate, leisurely, confiding countryman’s burr’? John Arlott

[e] Which TMS commentator’s last commentary was the 6th Ashes Test in August 1993?Brian Johnston

    Finally, it is time for a few quotations. During its life crowd behaviour has often been the subject of comment in ‘Mike’s Muses’. I return to that topic for the following:-    


‘It is feared that a good many people who find their pleasure in watching cricket are very ignorant of the game. In no other way can one account for the unseemly ‘barracking’ that sometimes goes on. ’

Sydney Pardon, editor of ‘Wisden’, 1919.


‘Edgbaston was awash with social inadequates, bawling, brawling, caterwauling, slating, baiting, hating. The Rea Bank was a cave of sullen youths, for whom insolence, ugliness and selfishness are basic facts of life.’

Michael Henderson, in ‘The Times’, reflecting cricket’s uncertainty about the nature of its Test crowds as the century nears its close, 1998.  


‘I’m this side of the line, you’re that, and never the twain shall meet. If they do I’ll break your f*****g teeth.’

Rodney Marsh, Australian wicketkeeper, to a spectator who fielded the ball inside the boundary rope, 1981. 


‘Waugh! What is he good for? Absolutely nothing!’

Adaptation of Edwin Starr’s song – one of the more humorous crowd chants during the 1993 Ashes series in England.


‘Please sir, can you make Kepler Wessels disappear?’

Plea to a magician in the crowd in Pontypridd, Glamorgan vs South Africa, 1994. [Wessels batted three hours for 45 not out.]



‘After all, Lord’s is Lord’s.’

Lord’s steward, requesting that men replace their shirts after complaints from women members, Middlesex vs Yorkshire, 1959.


‘Official hospitality is an organized conspiracy to prevent the uninterrupted watching of cricket, based upon a constant invitation to ‘have a drink’ or ‘meet our sales manager from Slough. ’

Roy Hattersley, Labour MP, in ‘The Guardian’, 1983.



Mike Rogers







July 2017.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  A relatively early finish to the 1st Team’s match at the Lintz on the first Saturday of June enabled me to spend a couple of hours at home before accompanying the lady wife to Blackfyne to participate in ‘Quiz Night’. Stephen Horn was the Quiz Master on this occasion. The sad demise of Medomsley CC has resulted in Stephen’s return ‘home’ to the Club. I am not alone in being delighted to have him back. Stephen presented an excellent quiz which was enjoyed by all. It was obvious that a lot of thought and work had been put into compiling the quiz, therefore I was pleased for Stephen that attendance was good.


Last month’s weather was typical of a British summer; a mixture of sunshine and rain. Periods of weather for which the game of cricket was invented and those designed more for testing the efficiency of umbrellas and wellingtons. Matches were postponed or cancelled. However, one matter remained constant i.e. 1st Team Captain Gary Hunter’s luck with the toss. Gary’s father, Club President Gordon, remarked upon this before the commencement of the match at Leadgate. On what was possibly the hottest and sunniest Saturday of the season so far, Gary led his team out to field. Cricketing nous told me that the winner of the toss would, on such a day, choose to bat. However, knowing that the Leadgate side was short of half a dozen regular first-teamers prompted me to ask Gordon if Gary had ‘inserted’ Leadgate with the intention of bowling out the home side in double quick time. ‘No,’ came the reply, ‘he lost the toss again.’ Gordon maintained that this had been the tenth or eleventh consecutive time when Gary had lost the toss!  So much for a 50/50 chance of winning the toss of a coin.  As it turned out the match was won by the Club in the exact manner which had prompted my question to Gordon.


  The Leadgate CC Committee deserves credit for the improvements which have been made to both the playing area and other facilities. A new drainage system has enhanced the field [recent heavy rainfalls will help the newly laid turf to bind] and the addition of picnic-style tables and benches topped off with two bespoke awnings has improved the cricket-watching experience for spectators. Money well spent.


  If you are a regular visitor to the Club’s website you may have seen photographs on it of May’s 1st Team home match against Shotley Bridge. The numerous photographs  were taken by local photographer George Ledger. George, a member of Consett Photographic Society, donated the photographs for use by the Club. Do look out for more action shots as George intends to be back. Very welcome he is too. 


  The final week of June saw the introduction of Day/Night County Championship cricket in England. This experiment, the brainchild of the ECB, is intended to increase interest in and attendance at County Championship matches. The usual hours of play, 11a.m. to 6 p.m.  [or thereabouts], prevent many would be spectators from attending the 4 Day game because of work commitments. The ECB hopes that a 2p.m. start and a 9p.m. finish will entice more people into the grounds by taking advantage of a £5 per person admission fee after 5p.m.. Unfortunately this brave new world got off to a disastrous start because of the weather; prolonged heavy rain across the country. I did attend the first day of the Durham v Worcestershire Day/Night match and came away from it less than impressed. As many readers know, I am one of several Durham members who voluntarily give commentaries to visually impaired spectators. Our vantage point for delivering a commentary is not ideal, high up in the Don Robson Pavilion, side-on to the wicket. However, we manage to cope with that. What I could not cope with is the fact that I could not see to ball! I, like Club members Colin McPherson and Geoff Graham, suffer from colour-blindness. The ball used in the Day/Night matches is, so I am told, pink. Whatever colour it was I could not see it when it was released by the bowler, when it was struck by the batsman or when it was taken by the ‘keeper. Following the ball on its way along the grass was almost as impossible. Several times a ball destined for the cover boundary [according to my interpretation of the batsman’s stroke] was fielded by the fielder at square leg. Yes, it had got there courtesy of an inside edge, but I had not seen it. The ball was, to me, invisible against the batsman’s white clothing and pads. I was reminded of an Austin Trophy match in which I had played at Hartlepool CC decades ago. The ground was a real chocolate box picture. A lovely pavilion behind the bowler’s arm at one end, the rest of the 360 degrees occupied by trees. Thankfully sight-screens were in place at both ends. Keeping wicket was ‘interesting’.  No problem when sighting the ball as it was delivered [Thank Goodness for the sight-screens] but a nightmare when trying to sight a ball coming in to me from the boundary. I did not pick out the ball from the green background until it was no more than 20 yards away.  Spectators must have thought that I had St. Vitus Dance or some similar affliction as I made a rapid move left or right, up or down at the last moment.  The next time that commentary upon a Day/Night pink ball match is up for grabs - count me out.       


July’s Cricket Quiz:-

Name the Test Match Special commentator:-

[a] Which TMS commentator was known as ‘The Boil’?

[b]                                       was christened ‘The Alderman’ by Brian Johnson?

[c] Who holds the record for the being the longest serving TMS commentator, between 1973 and 2017?

[d] Which famous TMS commentator’s distinctive voice was once described as an ‘articulate, leisurely, confiding countryman’s burr’?

[e] Which TMS commentator’s last commentary was the 6th Ashes Test in August 1993?

Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to June’s Quiz questions:-

Name the ground:-

[a]  Which ground has a Nursery End and a Pavilion End? Lord’s

[b]                   hosted its first Test Match between England and Zimbabwe in 2003?

Emirates Riverside, Chester le Street.

[c] By what other name is the Brisbane Cricket Ground commonly known? The Gabba.

[d] At which ground did Peter May and Colin Cowdrey put on 411 against the West Indies in 1957? Edgbaston.

[e]   Which English Test venue was a cabbage patch before it became a cricket ground? The Oval.

[f]   Which English cricket ground, which hosted a match in the 1999 World Cup,  was famous for having a tree on its outfield?  Canterbury.



    Finally, it is time for a few quotations. I return to the topic of County Cricket for the following:-    


‘You plan your cricket like a war, but play it like a party game.’

Tony Lewis, Glamorgan captain, extolling Essex’s virtues to their captain, Keith Fletcher. [Essex are not playing like that in 2017! Mike.]


‘Barrie, old boy, sorry, but you’re not going to like this at all.’

Neil Foster’s apology to umpire Barrie Meyer before kicking the stumps over at Old Trafford in pique at Essex’s fielding performance against Lancashire. He was fined £250, and reported that it was worth every penny. [According to Graham Gooch in ‘Gooch: My Autobiography’, 1995.] 


‘Steady boys, put down a canary first!’

J.B.Evans, Glamorgan  fast bowler, about to descend into the visitors’ basement dressing room at Taunton. 


‘When I tap the pitch with my bat, someone else taps back.’

Peter Walker, Glamorgan and England, on playing in mining country at Ebbw Vale, 1967.


‘I maintain I can contribute more in one telephone discussion with the chairman, Ossie Wheatley, than all the amateurs in a hundred meetings on the subject of cricket.’

Tony Lewis, sacked from Glamorgan’s cricket committee for non-attendance, 1980.



‘What number is Snow White batting?’

John Emburey to Mike Gatting, after experiencing Glamorgan’s miniscule batting line-up of Cottey, Dalton and Phelps; none of them much over 5ft. 5in., 1994.


‘Hove is a genial mixture of the raffish and run-down, like the numerous blazers in the pavilion bar, most sporting military buttons and many with frayed cuffs . ’

George Plumptre, ‘Homes of Cricket’, 1988.


‘This is the last thing we need. He should not be entering nude pictures in magazine competitions. He is supposed to be an ambassador for Sussex County Cricket Club.’

Sussex member, quoted in ‘The Times’, condemning the photographs of Club Secretary, Nigel Bett, in the pages of ‘British Naturism’. It was a chill wind for Bett; after the overthrow of the old committee, he left his job, 1997.


Mike Rogers







June 2017.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  Given the horrific carnage which occurred in Manchester towards the end of May, it is a delight to be able to impart some good news. I write, of course, of the birth of a son, Ben, to proud parents Andrew and Rachel Forster. Congratulations to both parents and to the proud grandparents. No doubt young Ben will have a bat in his hand before he can walk.


  Last month saw a first at Blackfyne when the Club hosted a Ladies’ Day. Well a ‘first’ is not strictly correct as I will explain. Way back in 1921, when the Club was celebrating the opening of the newly built pavilion, a Dinner was held to mark the occasion. It was held in the North Eastern Hotel, Blackhill. Larger venues had been approached but were unavailable so the Club settled on the North Eastern which could seat ninety people for dinner. However, many more than ninety players, Club members and voluntary builders [of the pavilion] wished to attend. How could this problem be overcome? The Club’s Committee decided not to invite the ladies! Instead of being wined and dined, the ladies were invited to a ‘musical evening with refreshments’ to be held in the new pavilion. There is no record of the numbers attending said ‘musical evening’ nor of the [inevitable?] fracture to the marital bliss previously existing between husbands and wives.


  Times have changed. May’s Ladies’ Day was a different kettle of fish. We [mere men] were told that the ladies were treated to copious amounts of Prosecco, afternoon tea, beauty tips and entertainment provided by two female singers. A few of the ladies made an appearance on the pavilion balcony after tea. Perhaps to watch the cricket [Shotley Bridge CC were the visitors], perhaps to get some fresh air into their lungs before rejoining the festivities in the Bar.  The event, a huge financial success, will probably have been the first of several more similar events. The organisers and helpers, Lesley Wilkinson, David Wilkinson, Ian Cox, Stephen Turnbull and Sean Kelly should be congratulated for their efforts.


  Making their way to Blackfyne for the match that day were former Shotley Bridge Captain Peter Collingwood and current Shotley Bridge Secretary David Milburn [a former pupil of mine] who were on a fund-raising mission. The pair have set themselves the target of walking to every League match played by Shotley Bridge 1st Team during the season. Money raised by opposing clubs’ contributions will be presented to the Bobby Robson Foundation. The Club was pleased to be able to add £50 to the funds. For those of us of a certain age the prospect of walking from Shotley Bridge to Blackfyne would be daunting enough [Peter confessed that he had been tempted to seek sustenance at ‘The Cricketers’ en route ], but what about a gentle stroll to Tynedale, Ashington or Percy Main! Good luck to the pair of them.


What about the Shotley Bridge match itself? Keenly fought as usual, fortunes ebbed and flowed. A spectator could be forgiven for changing his/her mind about the result several times and probably no one could have predicted the batting collapse which resulted in the Club sealing victory by a large margin. Club Captain Gary’s decision to open the bowling with his own spin bowling, backed up by good fielding, played  a decisive part in the outcome of the match. Not for the first time a good slow bowler reaped the rewards at Blackfyne. Shotley Bridge will certainly be seeking revenge when the two teams meet ‘down the hill’ later in the season.


  How would you like to spend an evening with Geoffrey Boycott? I appreciate that  some readers would choose to avoid that prospect like the plague. Others, however, would seize the opportunity with relish. As a dyed in the wool Tyke, a follower of Yorkshire cricket from infancy and an admirer of Boycott both as a player and a pundit, I was delighted to travel to Scarborough to attend ‘An Evening with Geoff Boycott’ at the Spa Theatre. The tickets for the event were a birthday present from my wife who had even arranged overnight accommodation for the pair of us. There was not a seat to be had when Boycott was welcomed on stage by BBC presenter Harry Gratian who was to act as compere. For more than two hours Boycott entertained us all with his stories of the highs and lows of his career in cricket. Several of his stories related to his career with Yorkshire including his brushes with the captain of the all-conquering 1960s side, Brian Close. Several snippets of film of Boycott’s on-field highlights were interspersed between Harry Gratian’s questions and Geoffrey’s answers and reminiscences. Of course film was shown of Boycott’s hundredth 100, made against Australia at Headingley. If all of the people who claim to have been on the ground when Boycott reached his century were actually present then Headingley must have held more than 50,000 that day and not the 20,000 or so that it really did. I, however, definitely was there to see it. The evening ended with a Question & Answer session. Questions such as, ‘Who was the best bowler you ever faced?’ [Answer:- Malcolm Marshall.] and ‘Who was the best captain you ever played under?’ [Answer:- Ray Illingworth.] were answered easily,  bringing murmurs of approval from the audience. However, when Boycott got on to the question of the future of the game there was rapturous agreement with his view that cricket would continue its downward spiral as a national sport unless live international cricket was shown once again on terrestrial television. I, for one, was delighted that this opinion [expressed in ‘Mike’s Muses’ on several occasions over the years] was shared by a man who knew more about the game on and off the field than I and many others could truly claim to know. One small aside; for an extra £20 members of the audience could have a ‘one to one’ session with Geoffrey. Quite a few did. Now, I admire the man’s cricket etc., but ……………………  . 


  I began this edition with some good news. Sadly as it draws to its close I must report some bad news. For many years Ian McKinnell supported the Club by his attendance at matches and functions [Quiz Nights in particular] and by his sponsorship. Although some members were aware that Ian was ill, his death on May 6th came as a shock to the many who were unaware of the gravity of his illness. He will be missed.    


June’s Cricket Quiz:-

Name the ground:-

[a]  Which ground has a Nursery End and a Pavilion End?

[b]                   hosted its first Test Match between England and Zimbabwe in 2003?

[c]   By what other name is the Brisbane Cricket Ground commonly known?

[d]   At which ground did Peter May and Colin Cowdrey put on 411 against the West Indies in 1957?

[e]  Which English Test venue was a cabbage patch before it became a cricket ground?

[f]   Which English cricket ground, which hosted a match in the 1999 World Cup,  was famous for having a tree on its outfield?

Answers will appear in next month’s edition.


Answers to May’s Quiz questions:-

Name the surnames of these players from the initials of their forenames.

[a]  WPUJC  Vaas

[b]   IT   Botham

[c]   DI   Gower

[d]   IVA   Richards

[e]   DCS  Compton

[f]   SCJ   Broad


    Finally, it is time for a few quotations. For no other reason than it provides an excess of thought-provoking and/or humorous quotations, I return to the topic of County Cricket for the following:-    


‘The vast majority of county cricketers have two topics of conversation: ‘Me and my cricket’, or as a high day and holiday variant, ‘My cricket and me’.’

Frances Edmonds , 1994.


‘The typical 1990s cricketer was a decent, regular middlebrow man who read the ‘Daily Mail’ and Wilbur Smith novels and [except in Lancashire] dressed at C&A.’

Simon Hughes, former Middlesex and Durham seamer, in ‘A Lot of Hard Yakka’, 1997. 


‘Many of the more prominent players daub the slogan ‘Form is temporary. Class is permanent.’ on the lids of their bulging coffins. It isn’t class they lack, but charisma.’

Simon Hughes in ‘A Lot of Hard Yakka’, 1997. 


‘Mastering boredom is the chief requirement of the cricketer.’

David Oldam, Somerset scorer, during a rain break at the Bath Festival, 1981.


‘I absolutely insist that all my boys should be in bed before breakfast.’

Colin Ingleby-Mackenzie, explaining Hampshire’s success under his captaincy. 1981.



‘I think I could write a sort of Egon Ronay guide to casualty departments – a kind of ‘Good Hospital Guide’.’

Grahame Clinton, Surrey opener, injured in 15 of the 17 first-class counties, 1986..


‘Simon Hughes thanks everyone who donated to today’s benefit collection, which raised 1230 pounds, 30 pence, 70 Canadian cents, 50 pesetas, 1 Kenyan shilling and 2 Iranian shekels. ’

Benefit announcement over the Lord’s tannoy, 1991.


‘Bloody Derby! What a way to go!’

Jonathan Agnew, Leicestershire and England bowler, contemplating his last match before retirement, 1990.


‘More reported cases of frostbite than any other first-class venue.’

Agnew on Derby again.


‘That load of madmen will never win anything until they learn some self-discipline.’

A Ray Illingworth criticism of 1970s  Essex, shortly before they won everything. [Quoted by Ray East in ‘A Funny Turn’, 1983.]


Mike Rogers







May 2017.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.

  April 22nd saw the new N&TSCL season get off the mark with the Club having mixed fortunes against Lanchester CC. The 1st Team lost at Kitswell Road and the 2nd Team victorious over their counterparts from Lanchester at Blackfyne. Given the heavy rainfall of the previous evening the conditions at Lanchester were surprisingly dry. Put into bat the Club found run-making to be a difficult pursuit. A series of minor stands gave the team and its supporters repeated hope of being able to set a challenging target. However, those hopes were dashed regularly by batsmen finding a variety of ways to get themselves out. Lanchester ran out emphatic winners. A victory over that particular club at 1st Team level has become a rarity. 

  In addition to three new players making their debuts for the Club on the field at Lanchester, Philip Hunter was recording events in the scorers’ box for the first time as the Club’s official 1st Team Scorer. Phil is the latest in the list of 1st Team Scorers whom I have had the pleasure of knowing during my forty-seven years at the Club. The first of these vital Club members was Billy Nixon. What a character! No matter whether he was in the dressing room or in the score-box, Billy always [and I mean always] had a cigarette clamped between his lips. Through the clouds of smoke he maintained his score-book with style and accuracy at the same time as moving the huge digit rollers to indicate individual scores, total and wickets. No computer in those days. Who said that men cannot multi-task? Hopefully Phil will be able to record some successes* in the future.

  Readers of last month’s edition may recall my anticipation of Durham’s first home match of the season due to commence on 14th April. I wrote of a sense of foreboding regarding the weather. Well, the weather did play a significant part in events but not as I had expected. It was one of those days when it was warm [not hot, even though a few spectators had donned shorts for the occasion] in the sun but cold enough for an overcoat in the shade. My two colleagues and I were able to sit outside beside our visually impaired ‘clients’ and give our commentaries. Even though a short time had been lost to rain, the match was progressing. Durham had been bowled out for a meagre total. However, in reply Nottinghamshire had made a bad start to their innings. The evening session offered more exciting cricket. The floodlights had been switched on at the beginning of the day’s play. They were still on when play resumed after tea. Around about 5pm, with Notts in a perilous state, the umpires took the players of the field because of bad light. Bad light with the floodlights on??!! For the next hour and a half there was no play and, more to the point, no announcements. During this time the majority of the crowd [and there was a sizeable one] departed the ground. The umpires made two visits to ‘the middle’, checked their light meters and walked back to the pavilion. No announcements. Players took themselves and their accompanying paraphernalia from the balcony and into the dressing rooms. It was apparent that play was over for the day. Eventually the Visually Impaired members and their commentators gave up the ghost and went home. On arriving home I switched on the television, checked Teletext and discovered that play had recommenced after 6.30. Once again spectators had ‘been kept in the dark’.

  Spectators were better served by the match officials at the One Day Cup match, Durham v Derbyshire, held on the last Thursday of April. It was my turn once more to share commentary of the match to the V.I. members with two colleagues. Having been on and off for rain on a couple of occasions, play was finally called off at 4.40. In all of that time I had given the benefit of my knowledge to the members for only five overs! I now have the reputation of being a Jonah. 

  The compilers of the First Class Counties’ fixture list appear to have thrown the matches into the air and settled for where they landed. I know that that is an exaggeration but please bear with me. No sooner had we got into the County Championship [4-day matches] last month than May comes along with the first three weeks of the month devoted to One Day Cup matches. 4-day matches return on May 21st to be followed by a One Day Cup-free June. However, July will see only one 4-day match throughout the month.  No sooner does the cricket-watcher [and the players] get into’ a competition than the focus is switched to another format. I have not even mentioned the slog-fest T20 matches! 

  Grumble over [for now]; time to move on to happier matters. We now have a new kitchen! Readers will know that the fire of 2006 gutted the pavilion including the kitchen. When the pavilion was re-opened the following year new kitchen equipment had been installed. That was, of course, a decade ago. The Management Committee agreed that it was time to upgrade the kitchen again and an application for a grant was made some months ago. The application was successful and the work was completed in time for this new season. 

  The kitchen was not required when Club Treasurer Colin McPherson held his [Early] Retirement Party in the Bar on the last Saturday of April. The place was packed with friends and family to wish Colin a long and happy retirement and to thank him for generously supplying food and drink for all. The food was by way of a mobile pizza oven! I was intrigued by it, as were most attendees. Not a great fan of pizza myself, friends assured me that the food was of high quality. Maybe we will see more of it at future events?         


May’s Cricket Quiz:- 

Name the surnames of these players from the initials of their forenames.

[a]  WPUJC

[b]   IT

[c]   DI

[d]   IVA

[e]   DCS

[f]   SCJ

Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 




Answers to April’s Quiz questions:-

What do the following acronyms or initials mean?

[a] MCG   Melbourne Cricket ground

[b] WACA   Western Australia Cricket Association

[c] DRS    Decision Referral System

[d] SLA    Slow Left Arm

[e] CMJ    Christopher Martin Jenkins


* Stop press:- I am delighted to report that Phil was able to score a comprehensive victory over Percy Main on the last Saturday of April! Sadly the 2nd Team went down to Percy Main 2nds on the same day. 


     Finally, it is time for a few quotations. My negative comments regarding County Cricket in this article [and in previous ones] prompt me to offer several quotations below. As readers will see, my criticism of the modern day situation echoes that made by previous generations.   


Cricket [in England] is widely perceived as elitist, exclusionist and dull.’

Matthew Engel, ‘Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack’, 1997.


No disrespect, but playing for Surrey Seconds against Sussex this week in front of a few dogs and coffin-dodgers is quite a different experience to playing before packed houses at The Oval, Headingley and Old Trafford .

Alistair Brown, Surrey, after the announcement of England’s Texaco Trophy squad, 1997.  


I make the crowd 24 – 23 really, because one of em’s died there overnight.

Tom Young to RC Robertson-Glasgow during a Somerset match at Taunton in the 1920s.


 ‘As preparation for a Test match, the domestic game is the equivalent of training for the Olympic marathon by taking the dog for a walk.

Martin Johnson, ‘The Independent’ 1995.


And I suppose if anyone’s bowled it’s just a nasty accident?

Nottinghamshire’s George Gunn, unimpressed by the news that the umpires would be generous with LBWs during a festival match in the 1920s.



County bowlers are nothing if not philosophical. I’ll be there in midsummer, running up to Sir Geoffrey, convincing myself he’s going to pad up to a straight one.

Brian Brain, county seamer, on the joys of bowling to Geoffrey Boycott, in ‘Another Day, Another Match’, 1980 .


All cricketers have large egos. That is why there are so many below average players still in the game. Each player secretly believes that he is a better cricketer than his results show.

Peter Walker, Glamorgan and England.


We used to celebrate like this just for beating Derbyshire.’

Ken Taylor, Nottinghamshire’s 70-year-old manager, overcome by their revival under Rice and Hadlee in the 1980s.


‘They tended to enjoy horse racing and the suspension of play due to rain. Without any doubt the best hours of the day for  them were spent in the pub after the day’s play.’

Imran Khan, commenting upon the ‘old pros’, 1988.


‘They can all resign themselves to the fact that none of them will ever be quite as good as the talkative gentleman with the packet of ham sandwiches who sits square of the wicket on every county ground in the land.’

Doug Insole, on the fate awaiting cricket’s new county captains, 1963. 


Mike Rogers







April 2017.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  April at long last! The season is upon us. How enjoyable it is to be able to write that. The First Class season starts before our own N&TCL season which means that I will be giving a commentary to the blind members at Durham CCC’s Emirates Riverside Ground more than a week before our senior teams’ opening league matches. I can hardly wait to be basking in the sunshine high up in the Don Robson Pavilion.  Surely it will not be as cold as it was a few seasons ago when I had to remove four inches of snow from the roof of my car before journeying to Chester le Street to commentate upon the first home match of the season in early April? We will see. I appreciate that times change and that it is essential to attract a different [younger] audience to cricket but starting the County Championship so early in order to fit in a host of T20 matches in the middle of the season appears to me [and others] rather nonsensical. I recall the then Durham Head Coach Martyn Moxon stating that not many people watched the 4-day format when he was giving a Q&A session at the Club. That may be correct, but there will definitely be even fewer watching on a chilly day at the start of April. 


  Chilly it certainly was not when impresarios Ian Cox and Stephen Turnbull presented ‘The Buskers’ at the Club last month. The bar was packed, standing room only. I thought that ‘The Buskers’ were excellent, fine guitarists and their singing was not bad either. Yes, I even knew most of the songs. A few of them were hits long before some of the audience was born. I even enjoyed the game of ‘standy-up bingo’. [I will not explain to readers who did not attend, it would take too long.] David and Lesley Wilkinson did a wonderful job slaking the thirst of the crowd. Club Treasurer Colin was a happy man too when he counted up the takings! A successful event. Well done to all concerned.


  Plans are underway to create a new competition. Surprise, surprise, it will be yet another T20 affair. This time it will be contested on an eight cities’ franchise basis and will commence in 2020. Yes, 20/20 in 2020. Who will be the eight cities? Your guess is as good as mine. Apparently the cities who wish to become part of the chosen eight will have to bid. Will the bids be made on the basis of prospective population or straight cash on the table? Or will it be a combination of the two? Time will tell.


 While the ECB’s motives [attracting a younger audience to cricket] may be laudable, surely broadcasting professional cricket in its various formats via live free to air TV now would go a long way to reaching those ambitions? Furthermore, I was encouraged by England star Jimmy Anderson pitching into the debate by stating that Test Match cricket should be the pinnacle of the game and hoping that the prospect of more T20 cricket would not undermine the longer version of the game. I cannot be the only cricket-lover who believes that may be the case and, moreover, that the longer form of the game [County Championship and Test Matches] is already fighting hard to compete with the shorter format in terms of attracting spectators who want the ‘quick fix’. 


  I was sad to learn of the death last month of John ‘Jack’ Hampshire, another hero of mine in my teenage years. Apparently he did not like anyone calling him ‘Jack’ or ‘Jackie’. I and thousands of other regular attendees at Yorkshire’s matches were not aware of this so ‘Jack’ he was to us. A fine attacking middle-order batsman, an occasional leg-spinner and an excellent close fielder, John was a vital cog in the Yorkshire CCC machine during the 1960s and early 1970s’ era of County  Championship successes. I have two distinct memories of batsman John. The first of these was a photograph, the second  a pie and pint in a pub. At home in Leeds we had the ‘Yorkshire Evening Post’ delivered. During the cricket season a report of the morning session of Yorkshire’s current match appeared on the back page. On one occasion a photograph of Hampshire appeared at the top of the report. He was pictured playing an immaculate forward defensive stoke. Front foot well forward, bat and pad together, all three stumps covered. Perfect. That, I thought, must be the way to defend. If only I could have copied that more often. John Hampshire was primarily a front-foot player, given his long stride [he was a six-footer] that is understandable. The pie and pint? During the summer of 1969 I had a holiday job working in a printing works in Kirkstall, Leeds, about a mile or so away from the Headingley Grounds. Lunch usually consisted of home-made sandwiches but occasionally I would venture a couple of hundred yards away to the Abbey Inn to enjoy a pie and a pint. Knowing that the Test Match, England v West Indies, would be shown LIVE on the pub’s television and that my Yorkshire heroes Phil Sharpe, Geoff Boycott, Ray Illingworth and John Hampshire were playing, I decided to partake of the pub grub. It turned out to be a wise choice. I sat glued to the television [as did several other keen customers] as Hampshire made his way to the crease following the loss of four early English wickets [37 for 4]. This was his England debut.  He began sketchily but gradually became more fluent. All too soon it was high time to leave the pub and get back to work. I did not want to be ‘quartered’ for being late. ‘Jack’ was still at the crease when I had to leave. Back at work the rest of the afternoon was spent working with both ears attuned to a work-mate’s transistor radio. He was not the only employee tuned in to ‘Test Match Special’, most employees there were cricket-mad. Hampshire went on to score a hundred. A hundred on debut! At Lord’s!!!!  It would be pleasing to write that John Hampshire enjoyed a long England career. Pleasing but not true. He played in only eight Tests over a period of six years. Like many Tykes before him, John Hampshire was ‘shown the door’ by the Yorkshire Committee after captaining the side for two seasons, 1980 and 1981. He then went on to do ‘missionary work’ for Derbyshire CCC for three seasons before donning the white coat and becoming a respected International Umpire for many years. Cricket was his life. 


  Hot off the press:-  at its latest meeting of N&TSCL clubs it was agreed unanimously that the N&TSCL would merge with the Northumberland Cricket League to create a league of  some fifty clubs. The new league will comprise of eight  Divisions with promotion and relegation between them.  The idea of the merger was, we are told, popular with current players. Former players may not be as enthusiastic and hark back to the good old days of the Tyneside Senior League. Good old days they certainly were and I have a great deal of sympathy with those views. However, as the West Indian proverb [it relates to sugar cane by the way] goes, ’If you don’t bend you will break.’ In other words these are changing times and we must change with them. I suppose.              


  April’s Cricket Quiz:- 

What do the following acronyms or initials mean?

[a] MCG

[b] WACA

[c] DRS

[d] SLA

[e] CMJ

Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 


Answers to March’s Quiz questions:-

[a] The Kit Moaner        Mike Atherton

[b] Brat Sad Tour    Stuart Broad

[c] Pekinese Invert   Kevin Pietersen

[d] Manager News    Graeme Swann

[e] Helpful Lint        Phil Tufnell

[f] Germany Vote    Tom Graveney


     Finally, it is time for a few quotations. Recently members of Durham CCC  received their membership cards , fixture list etc.. Accompanying the articles was a letter from the new Chairman, Sir Ian Botham. There are numerous quotations of and about Sir Ian. I offer the following, some of which you may be new to you:-   


You should have stuck to soccer, lad.’

Len Muncer, coach on the Lord’s groundstaff, assessing the career prospects of Ian Botham.


I’m probably the worst practiser in the world. You look at me in the nets and you wouldn’t think I was a player. I just slog .

Ian Botham, on himself, 1982.  


If you made him Prime Minister tomorrow, he’d pick this country up in ten minutes.

Bill Alley, umpire, in praise of Ian Botham, 1980.


 ‘He couldn’t bat to save himself. I bowled him with a dicky arm during the 1977 tour and he was either dropped four times or made nought.

Jeff Thomson, Australian fast bowler, unimpressed with Ian Botham in 1980.


I’d rather face Dennis Lillee with a stick of rhubarb than go through all that again.

Ian Botham, cleared of assault at Grimsby Crown Court, 1981.



If I’d been in the war I’d have won the VC, but it would have been posthumous.

Ian Botham, attempting self-recognition.


‘I like the bugger. He’s a grand lad. It’s just a pity he spoils himself.’

Brian Close after Ian Botham was sacked by Queensland, 1988.


‘Ian is a man who is very warm in friendship but very ugly in enmity.’

Peter Roebuck, 1988.


Mike Rogers







March 2017.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  The final Friday of last month saw the Club holding its Annual Senior Presentation Evening. In former times prizes were awarded to players at the Club’s Annual Dinner Dance. Those days, however, are long gone. In modern times the event has changed dramatically. Attendees at February’s affair were treated to a sports related quiz with spot prizes [drinks] and cash prizes, reviews of the past season from the captains of the four senior teams in addition to the presentation of prizes to individuals and whole teams. A full evening.


  Jamie Bradley, as many people know, had an outstanding 2016 season with both bat and ball, particularly with bat. He scored well over a thousand runs in 2nd and 3rd Team cricket. It was inevitable that Jamie would pick up one or two trophies for his efforts. However, he ended up with more trophies than ‘La La Land’ won Oscars! Eight of them including both the 2nd and 3rd Team Player of the Year awards and the Phil Williamson Memorial Trophy [batting].  I understand that Jamie’s ambition is to play 1st Team cricket for the Club. If he keeps on scoring runs it could well happen. Dan ‘Spike’ Milligan rightfully took the 1st Team Player of the Year and Colin Leedham Trophy [bowling]. Other individual winners were Andrew Cox [Eric Topham Trophy [2nd Team bowling], Niall Chambers [Academicals Player of the Year] and Ian Cox [Gus Robinson Rose Bowl,awarded to Clubman of the Year]. Both the 3rd Team and Academicals Team received mementos en masse for their achievements in winning promotion and reaching a Cup Final respectively. Who will get the job of cleaning the trophies? I doubt that the recipients will take on that task.  Way back in the mists of time Donald Brown was presented with a prestigious trophy by the Club. When he returned it for the following year’s ‘Do’ the trophy had lost its silver colour and had taken on more of a brass hue. Donald admitted that he had polished up the trophy himself but had used Brasso instead of silver polish. 


  Older attendees of the Presentation Evening would remember Colin Leedham and Eric Topham after whom Club trophies are named. Younger attendees would certainly have remembered Phil Williamson. All three men are remembered with affection and respect by those who knew them. Moreover, those of us of a certain age shared a variety of experiences with all three both on and off the field. Not so with Gus Robinson. I was presented with the Gus Robinson Rose Bowl for the first time back in the 1970s and have to admit that I did not know anything about him at the time. However, my research into the Club’s history in order to write ‘The Blackfyne Story’ uncovered a great deal about Augustus ‘Gus’ Robinson. Gus enjoyed a long playing career in the first part of the 20th Century. He played for both the 1st and 2nd Teams. When age dictated that he should stop playing Gus took up scoring duties for the 1st Team. In addition to this he served the Club on the Management Committee for many years. A true stalwart of the Club. Following Gus’s death his family presented the Club with the Rose Bowl to be presented annually to the member who had performed outstanding service. Gus performed outstanding service to the Club over decades.


  ‘All Stars’ cricket? Yes; but not the international players which the name suggests. ‘All Stars’ is an ECB initiative aimed at catching them young. The scheme is to be promoted this coming season throughout the country. Five to eight year-olds are to be offered an introduction to the game by cricket clubs. Plans are afoot to bring the scheme to Blackfyne. I wish that I had had that opportunity which will be open to the youngsters. Many readers will, like me, have got to know cricket by watching it live or on television [yes, there was television when I was five]. My friends and I emulated what we had watched when playing in the street. Only when we reached the Upper Juniors at Primary School did we have any sort of coaching and, only then, if one of the teachers was interested in the game. I hope that the ‘All Stars’ scheme is a great success.


  So far in 2017 I have not honoured Blaydon RUFC with my presence. Bad weather and other commitments have prevented me from spending Saturday afternoons at its  Swalwell ground. However, I have been able to watch a few matches at Tynedale RUFC’s Tynedale Park ground in Corbridge. Prior to the start of one game I recognised the name of one of the team changes announced. It belonged to no other than Club member Nick Cook. Playing on the wing Nick saw little of the ball but did no harm to his reputation by defending strongly against a superior Caldy team. Caldy RUFC [from the Wirral] are League leaders, having lost just one fixture so far this season. Nick and his fellow Tynedale team-mates ensured that Caldy did not have it all their own way. Although Caldy won the match, it was not by many points.  


  September 2017 will be the 10th anniversary of the re-opening of the Bar following the pavilion fire of September 2006. You may recall that Paul Collingwood , then captain of England’s T20 side, was given the honour of re-opening the Bar officially. The Club’s Management Committee is pondering a suitable way in which to mark the anniversary. As soon as the ‘pondering’ is over with details of the event will be advertised on the Club website. I doubt that it will be a ‘dry’ occasion. 


March’s Cricket Quiz:- 

The following are anagrams of England Test players, past and present, together with clues to their identity:- 

[a] The Kit Moaner          [Red Rose Test captain]

[b] Brat Sad Tour    [current seamer]

[c] Pekinese Invert   [now specialising in T20s]

[d] Manager News    [spins a tale on TMS]

[e] Helpful Lint        [   “      “  “    “     “ ]

[f] Germany Vote     [ was born in Riding Mill]

Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 


Answers to February’s Quiz questions:-

True or False?

[a] Gordon Greenidge’s first name is Cedric? False [it’s Cuthbert]

[b] Alec Stewart had football trials for Arsenal? False 

[c] Alastair Cook was a talented choirboy in his youth? True

[d] Mike Denness was born in Wales? False [Scotland]

[e] It is illegal to bowl underarm?  True [unless otherwise agreed by both sides before the match]  

[f] Ian Bell’s middle name is Ronald?  True


     Finally, it is time for a few quotations. England are currently touring the West Indies. There have been times when the tactics of the West Indians and the behaviour  of  the Caribbean supporters have caused comment as illustrated below:-    


I recommend that future tours to the West Indies should take a good umpire to teach them the laws of the game, of which at the moment the majority are a bit doubtful.’

Hon. FSG Calthorpe, MCC captain, tour of West Indies, 1926.


No, we’ll stay. We want another wicket or two this evening.

Len Hutton, refusing to leave the field in Guyana for fear of a crowd riot, MCC tour of West Indies, 1953/4.  


That’s a fine bloody way to play cricket. If those bowlers don’t watch out they’ll bloody well kill someone.

Ken Barrington, after surviving a short-pitched barrage from Wes Hall and Chester Watson, West Indies vs England, Trinidad, 1960 – arguably the birth of the West Indies’ fast-bowling era.


 ‘To call a crowd ‘a crowd’ in Jamaica is a misnomer. It should be called a mob  ….  These people still belong to the jungles and forests instead of a civilized society.

Sunil Gavaskar, writing in ‘Sunny Days’, on India’s tour of the West Indies, 1976. .


We have a saying in the West Indies – if you want to drive, buy a car.

Michael Holding, in his Derbyshire days, defending the proliferation of short-pitched bowling in the 1980s.



That was not great captaincy, it was barbarism.

Sunil Gavaskar, on Clive Lloyd’s handling of the West Indies pace attack, 1976.


Mike Rogers







February 2017.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  In January’s edition I bemoaned the lack of attendees at Club Quiz Nights in recent times. Just to make a liar out of me members and their guests turned out in good numbers to attend last month’s Pointless Quiz hosted by Chairman Alan. A good night was had by all. Thank you Alan.


  The Pointless Quiz aside, January was a quiet month regarding social activity. However, it was the calm before the storm. Senior Presentation Evening and live music events are just around the corner. Monthly Club Management Committee meetings always include lengthy discussions regarding fund-raising events. January’s meeting was no exception. The list of future events should contain something of interest to all ages within the Club. Just as your car does not run on fresh air, then neither does the Club. Although playing cricket remains the Club’s raison d’etre, that cannot be achieved without the necessary funds. Club members are fortunate to have several Committee members who are not only keen to raise funds but who are experts in doing so.


  They are at it again. Who? The two Davids; Dixon and Wilkinson. At what? Redecorating the pavilion. Following on from their superb restoration of the exterior of the building, work on the interior is now under way.  ‘Wilk’ is currently on holiday in Sri Lanka but that fact has not stopped ‘Dixie’ from getting on with the preparation. Notice-boards, pictures etc, have been removed and walls cleaned. I have no doubt that the redecoration will be a credit to them both and enjoyed by the rest of us.


  “Has Consett got a cricket club?” Not a question I have been asked previously. However, I was and in unusual circumstances. Towards the end of last month I attended an Anniversary Dinner of a Lions Club in Northumberland. The lady wife and I were seated at dinner on a table of six. Knowing that I was a Tyke prompted the local Lion to announce that he and his wife had once lived in the West Riding for ten years. He continued to tell the rest of the table how keen Yorkshire folk had been on cricket. “It was just like a religion.” Warming to him, I asked where he had lived. “Baildon.” was the answer. I told him that I knew that area and that Brian Close had made his home there. This was the moment when matters took a turn for the worse. He was unaware that Closey had lived in that area and, when asked by his wife, he informed her that Brian Close had been “an average cricketer” made famous for the battering he had taken from the West Indian fast bowlers. Red rag to a bull time! Average cricketer!!!!! He went on to claim that Yorkshire CCC had been racist in former times because of the absence of ethnic minorities in its ranks. I could not resist informing ‘the table’ that in my time in West Yorkshire not only were Indians, Pakistanis, West Indians et al not considered for selection but so were white cricketers who had suffered the misfortune of not having been born in Yorkshire. It was during the main course that I nearly choked on my beef when the question at the top of this paragraph was posed. To make matters even worse, if they could be, the questioner added that he knew of Shotley Bridge CC and Stocksfield CC!!! My good nature [eh?] helped me to keep calm[ish] in my response, informing him of the Club’s proud history and of its superb ground. However, I wish that I had had a copy of ‘The Blackfyne Story’ to hand to …………………………… present to him. At a charge of course.


  Women’s cricket is a growing sport nowadays, played in all formats across the world; even in Yorkshire! However, that was not the case when I was a boy. The notion of girls and women playing cricket at all, never mind to a high standard, was not considered in the all-male environment of cricket clubs frequented by this writer. Women were there to make the teas and wash the kit. Little did we know then that changes, huge changes, were afoot. In the vanguard of achieving the changes was            

Rachael Heyhoe Flint whose death was announced last month. Rachael played for the  England Women’s Cricket Team from 1960 to 1982, captaining that team from 1966 to 1978. Rachael was the  pioneer of the women’s game, was the first female cricketer to hit a six in a Test Match and, perhaps her greatest achievement, one of the first ten women to become a member of the MCC. It has been said the Rachael Heyhoe Flint [later Baroness Heyhoe Flint] was the W.G.Grace of women’s cricket; however, much more attractive.


  I hope that readers enjoyed last month’s inaugural Cricket Quiz. Only one reader commented upon it. Although it was a positive comment, it would be pleasing to receive more feedback on the contents of the ‘Muses’. 


February’s Cricket Quiz:- 

True or False?

[a] Gordon Greenidge’s first name is Cedric?

[b] Alec Stewart had football trials for Arsenal?

[c] Alastair Cook was a talented choirboy in his youth?

[d] Mike Denness was born in Wales?

[e] It is illegal to bowl underarm?

[f] Ian Bell’s middle name is Ronald?


Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 


Answers to January’s Quiz questions:-


[a] The Master Blaster Viv Richards   [b] The Rawalpindi Express  Shoaib Akhtar [c] The Don  Donald  Bradman   [d] White Lightning  Allan Donald                             [e] Pica   Graham Dilley  [f] The King of Spain    Ashley Giles

     Finally, it is time for a few quotations. The passing of Rachael Heyhoe Flint  prompts me to offer the following female-related quotations:-    


‘Ladies playing cricket – absurd. Just like a man trying to knit.’

Len Hutton, former England captain.


You must treat a cricket ball like a new bride.

Micky Stewart’s advice to bowlers, 1986.  


There are men who fear women more than they love cricket.

Geoff Scargill, at Lancashire’s annual meeting of 1985, unsuccessfully proposing that women should be allowed in the Old Trafford pavilion.


 ‘Let them in and the next thing you know the place will be full of children.

Lancashire member, opposing the same resolution.


If a lot of people thought it was a frightfully good idea, we would follow it through, but I feel that there is not a hope in hell of that.

Lt. Col. John Stephenson, secretary of MCC, on the ballot asking members whether women should be admitted [to the Lord’s pavilion], 1989.



If Margaret Thatcher had been running English cricket, England would be better off than they are.

Ted Dexter, on leadership qualities.



We’ve always set the trend. Remember, women cricketers were the first to bowl overarm.

Rachael Heyhoe Flint, England captain, pressing for a game at Lord’s to mark the women’s association’s 50th anniversary. 1975.


I cried all the way to the wicket. We had arrived.

Rachael Heyhoe Flint, recalling when Lord’s hosted the 1976 women’s international between England and Australia.


‘Professional coaching is a man trying to get you to keep your legs close together when other men had spent a lifetime trying to get them wider apart.’  

Rachael Heyhoe Flint



Mike Rogers



January 2017.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  A Happy New Year!!! I trust that you were able to enjoy the Christmas and New Year celebrations and are now ready to cope with the year ahead. Hopefully 2017 will be a good year for you and yours.


  Congratulations go to Andrew ‘Bushy’ Waters and Emma on their marriage early last month. My wife and I were two of a dozen or more Club members who attended the Evening Wedding Reception held at Blaydon Rugby Club. Both Bushy and Emma lived up to the oft used title of ‘the happy couple’.  Beaming smiles abounded. Long may that be the case.


  The week following the wedding saw Keith Horn presenting a Christmas Quiz. I was pleased to see a good attendance. It was obvious to me that Keith had put a lot of thought and preparation into the quiz. It would have been disconcerting if only a handful of attendees had been there to enjoy the result of his efforts. Sadly, attendance at Quiz Nights has dwindled in recent years. There was a time when the monthly Quiz Night attracted a room-full of members, partners and friends. It was [almost] a pleasure to prepare a quiz in those days knowing that, hopefully, it would be appreciated by many. I suppose the diminished attraction of the Quiz is just another example of changed times.


  A lack of attendees was certainly not the case on 28th December when ‘The Great Escape’ performed in the Bar. Apparently the ‘gig’ was sold out within 24 hours of being advertised! I was unable to be a member of the packed audience owing to not being quick enough to secure a ticket. As it turned out my failure to get a ticket was quit fortunate as on 18th December I fell prey to the dreaded lurgy [ a heavy cold and cough] sweeping the district which, at the time of writing [30th December] persists. I have been informed that the ‘Do’ was a huge success. ‘The Great Escape’ proved as popular as ever, Alan Waters presented ‘Play your cards right’ with aplomb and Bingo was played with great enthusiasm [cash prizes]. The Bar takings got a real boost too. Many thanks go to two Club members in particular, ‘impresario’ Ian Cox and Great Escape’ band member Stephen Turnbull. Ian tells me that similar functions are in the pipe-line. Readers, he informs me, should watch out for details on social media [whatever that might be] and on the Club website. 


  Members of the Club’s Management Committee left December’s meeting in good spirits having been informed that both Kamran Mansoor and Dan Milligan would be playing for the Club for the third year running. Not only that, they both intended to bring friends with them to the Senior Indoor Nets. Both Kamran and Dan hail from ‘foreign parts’; Kamran from Pakistan and Dan from Lancashire. Of course, as a Yorkshireman, I consider Dan to have been born on the wrong side of the Pennines. Nevertheless he is a great lad, a good cricketer and a major asset to the Club. Back in the ‘70s the 1st Team had three ‘foreigners’:- Colin Leedham from Lincolnshire, Peter Curtis from Northamptonshire and the writer.  Quite an array of accents in that particular dressing room.  


  Well, what did you make of the recent Test Series in India? From an England supporter’s point of view it was a huge disappointment. Optimism felt in the First Test gradually evaporated as the series progressed. Yes, there were a few good performances by individual England players. However, such performances could not hide the fact that India outplayed England in just about every facet of the game. Granted the wickets were prepared for the Indian spinners and not for England’s strong suit of seam bowling. Nevertheless, it was the manner of defeat which should cause the most alarm. Time after time lucrative England partnerships were followed by batting collapses during which our professional cricketers found a variety of methods of getting themselves out. Was it the influence of T20 or One Day cricket? Was it due to an attempt to bully the bowler? Could it have been a lack of application? I have no idea but suggest that all of those theories played a part to some degree in the demise. Another question; what part was played in the fiasco by the much vaunted backroom staff? We are told that England has a Head Coach, batting coaches, bowling coaches, fielding coaches, psychologists, statisticians etc., etc.. Do any of them ever suggest that when batting there are times when ‘getting your head down and playing straight’ is a good idea? Opinions on a post-card please.


  On the subject of cards, what do you think of the introduction into cricket of red and yellow cards to be dispensed by umpires? Maybe I am naïve but I thought that umpires [at any level] already had the powers to discipline players by word of mouth followed by written reports to the appropriate governing body. Will the cards improve matters? Time alone will tell. In years gone by the personality of the umpire was a big factor in how individual matches were played. A harsh word or, more often, a jocular quip sorted out the problem. In the First Class game will the brandishing of a card be met with boos and catcalls from the spectators? Possibly; although not much noise would come from the ‘three men and a dog ‘ who form the ‘crowd’ at some County Grounds.    


Some readers of this monthly nonsense have told me that they always enjoy the quotations which appear at the end of the article. Probably [methinks] because it is at the end! They are just about able to endure the rubbish which precedes the quotations section [if they bother to read it at all] in the knowledge that there may be something worth reading at the end of it. Rather like receiving a sweet after swallowing medicine? To mark the beginning of a new year of ‘Muses’ I have decided to [hopefully] sweeten the pill a little more by including a few questions about cricket in each edition.  I hope that the Cricket Quiz section is well received. Here goes:-


  Name the players with these nicknames:-

[a] The Master Blaster   [b] The Rawalpindi Express  [c] The Don                            [d] White Lightning  [e] Pica   [f] The King of Spain  


Answers will appear in next month’s edition. 


   Finally, it is time for a few quotations. This winter’s MCC tour of India prompts me to offer the following:-    


It is in the matter of patience that I think the Indian will never be equal to the Englishman.

Lord Harris, 1921.

[How wrong he was!] Mike.  


At Peshawar I stayed with a cousin of Jardine. On the first morning we parted on the doorstep, I to play cricket, he to settle a tribal war.

Lionel Lord Tennyson, describing the 1937/8 tour of India.


 ‘Stop the game. We can’t see the game. Smoke is getting in our eyes.

GK Menon, Indian reporter, striding onto Bombay’s outfield from the press box as the stands were set alight, India versus Australia, 1969.


Hello Colonel, glad to see you’ve got your colour back.

Fred Trueman to Lt-Col. Hemu Adhikari, the Indian manager, during the 1974 tour of India. Adhikari had suffered a traumatic experience against Trueman 22 years earlier when India had lost their first four wickets for no runs.



You can’t muck around with eggs and you can’t muck around with chips.

Ken Barrington, England batsman and later tour manager, explaining his eating habits in India. 



Done the elephant. Done the poverty. Might as well go home.

Phil Tufnell, after a fortnight in India, 1993.


I like the same routine. I once had steak and chips for 28 consecutive nights in India and I was the only one who wasn’t ill.

Jack Russell, England wicket-keeper, 1995.




Mike Rogers




December 2016.


  Welcome to this edition of 'Muses' concerning the on and off the field activities of Consett C.C. together with the writer’s associated memories and ramblings.


  I am pleased to be able to begin this edition with some good news. At its November meeting the Club’s Management Committee agreed unanimously to add two names to the list of Consett CC Life Members. The new additions to the prestigious list are Walter Armstrong and Tommy Nichol. I have had the pleasure of knowing both of them since my arrival at the Club in 1970. However, their ties to the Club go back  much further than mine. During their long and illustrious Blackfyne ‘careers’ both Tommy and Walter held the office of 1st Team Captain. Tommy was a stylish and successful batsman who favoured strokes off the back foot. Walter was an all-rounder who scored runs quickly and took wickets regularly with his medium pace. He did, however, possess a ‘surprise’ ball in his armoury which hurtled towards the batsman’s stumps at an alarming rate; said delivery accounted for many a batsman.  It is a fact that many former Club players ‘go off the radar’ when they retire from the game but that has not been the case with Tommy or Walter. Tommy is an ‘ever present’ at matches and social functions. Walter, despite living miles away in Lancashire, is a regular visitor. Both men have Blackfyne blood running through their bodies and thoroughly deserve Life Membership. For further details of their contribution to the Club look no further than ‘The Blackfyne Story’.    


  The Club’s AGM, held on the same evening as the Management Committee meeting, followed its usual format. Reports covering the on and off the field performance of the previous twelve months were presented and considered. Subscriptions and fees for the following year were agreed. Individuals were thanked by the Chairman. However, the 2016 AGM differed in one respect from the many that I have witnessed since my first one back in 1970. The difference? The lack of an appointment of a 1st Team Captain. An election for the post could not be held because there were no volunteers to take on the role. I am confident that both of the Club’s new Life Members considered the post to be an honour when they captained the 1st Team several decades ago. Changed times eh?       


  The League AGM and Management meeting, held at Greenside CC towards the end of last month, were well attended. [A good attendance is guaranteed largely due to the fine imposed on those Clubs which are not represented.] The gathering consisted, as usual, of approximately forty men and two or three ladies seated in the Club Bar, in the main quaffing cans of Coca Cola. [The breathalyzer has a lot to answer for.] Proposed rule changes were considered and voted upon. A proposal to regionalise 2nd Team League fixtures was heavily defeated. Given the problems encountered by some clubs in raising a team to travel relatively long distances for 2nd Team matches, I found it surprising that only seven clubs voted in favour of the proposal.


Tillside CC was welcomed into our Northumberland and Tyneside Senior League [N&TSCL] having gained promotion from the Northumberland County League [NCL]. If, like I was, you are unsure of where Tillside CC actually is, find Berwick-upon- Tweed on a map and then move your finger to the left until you find Etal. The staging of evening Cup Ties will require some creative thinking methinks. Tillside CC has replaced the relegated Whickham CC which now, of course, finds itself in the NCL But not to worry, discussions are afoot to merge both the N&TSCL and NCL into one League. If both the current N&TSCL and NCL agree to it, we shall all be in one big happy family by the end of this decade. However, a lot of water will have to pass under a lot of bridges before that happens.


  League meetings, including AGMs, tend to be serious affairs. Until November’s League Management meeting I can only remember one comical incident ever occurring and that happened way back in the 1970s when the draw for the Tyneside Charity Bowl was being made. No computers then. Participating clubs were identified by a number or letter printed on a piece of card similar in size to a Scrabble tile. The draw was proceeding without incident until the League Vice-Chairman upset the table and all the cards ended up on the floor. A re-draw was required. Laughter all around but none forthcoming  from the Vice-Chairman. Moving on about forty years to last month’s meeting, it had been agreed previously to move the final round of League matches from its usual place on the calendar in order to accommodate a probable play-off  match between the winners of the N&TSCL and the Durham Cricket League for promotion to the North East Premier League. A ballot was required to choose a new date for the League fixtures. Following recounts it became clear that two suggested dates had received exactly the same number of votes For and Against. As Club delegates had been mandated by their Clubs to vote in a particular way, they could not change their minds at the meeting. Therefore the date was chosen by the toss of a coin!! No doubt there will be complaints from some players because they will be asked to play a ‘double-header’ i.e. Saturday and Sunday. Those of us of a certain age, however, may not have much sympathy for the complainants given the fact that in former years ‘double-headers’ were commonplace. Indeed, during one season success in Cups resulted in the Club’s 1st Team playing either a League or Cup match on six days / evenings out of eight. At one stage I only knew who the opposition was to be if it was an away match. All we seemed to do that week was dress and undress.          


  Unfortunately I could not attend last month’s League Presentation Evening owing to a long-standing commitment elsewhere. The ‘elsewhere’ was in fact the Holiday Inn at Seaton Burn, only a few miles from the League ‘Do’ at Kingston Park. I suppose it could have been possible for me to attend both events but as I was Master of Ceremonies at the Charity Dinner at the Holiday Inn, my appearance at the League Presentation Evening in the formal attire of  Dinner Jacket etc. may not have gone unnoticed. Club Chairman Alan has told me that the Presentation Evening was enjoyable. Last year’s problems with catering and microphones had been rectified and a good time had been had by all.


  I am sad to report the passing of Pam Tilley, wife of former Club playing member Brian. The Club was represented at her funeral by Club Chairman Alan and David and Lesley Wilkinson. Pam will be greatly missed by her family and many friends.


   Finally, it is time for a few quotations. As, at the time of writing, no one has put his head above the parapet for the office of 1st Team Captain, here are a few more quotations relating to the subject of captaincy:-   


I find I am playing every ball, bowling every ball and fielding every ball. The captaincy has cost me over sis hundred runs a season. I am snapping at my wife and children and sleeping no more than four hours a night.

Micky Stewart, the year Surrey won the Championship, 1971.


He was a cunning bugger, Fletch. He had a mental image of every opponent and a special field for each batsman pre-programmed. He knew exactly which bowler to put on, when and what his strategy should be. He stood in the gully cackling at Gooch’s jokes while he plotted each batsman’s downfall. It’s very disconcerting if you’re that batsman.

Simon Hughes on Keith Fletcher in ‘A Lot of Hard Yakka’, 1997.


 ‘Right, I’m batting at no.4 and the rest of you can sort yourselves out.

Keith Fletcher, on a bad Essex day.


England have at least nine captains out there. Unfortunately Bob Willis is not one of them.

Henry Blofeld, during the latter stages of England’s three-run win over Australia in the Melbourne Test, 1992/3 Ashes Tour.



Cricket teams have often suffered from captains who have arrived, done queer things, departed and been forgotten.

RC Robertson-Glasgow in ‘Cricket Prints’,1943.



He could never make up his mind whether to call heads or tails.

Ray Illingworth on Colin Cowdrey.


Don’t say too much.

Len Hutton’s advice to Tony Greig, prior to him captaining England in India, 1976/7.