Like the old British Empire, the sun never sets on The Cricket Writers' Club and many of our members have spent this winter criss-crossing the globe. I hope they have enough energy left when the fast-approaching domestic season starts up again in April.
CWC's administration also continues apace during the winter months and there is still more business to be done before our 2018 AGM on Wednesday April 25 at Trent Bridge. This also doubles as the club's early-season social, following the excellent lead of last year's Edgbaston gathering, and I hope to see as many members as possible - and especially those based in the Midlands and the North - in the Boundary's Edge suite on April 25, from 12.30pm. The AGM will begin around 2.00pm.
Items on the agenda include a redrawn club Constitution, which needs to be ratified by members (it will be circulated to every club member ahead of the AGM), and full details of this year's Annual Lunch, which is to be held again at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge following the signing of a new two-year deal with the venue. This year's Lunch will take place on Tuesday October 2, so please get that in your diaries along with the AGM date.
A full Committee meeting is scheduled for early March, at which a number of important decisions are due to be made, and there are also various sub-Committee meetings next month. I am hoping that further detail about the future structure and financial health of the club can be reported to the AGM.
In the meantime, I am grateful once again to Gemma Wright, our Handbook Editor, for all her hard work in ensuring the 2018 edition is getting itself ready for printing in late March and circulation to all members in early April.
Many thanks, too, to the continued efforts of the secretarial team of Alan Gardner, Will Macpherson, Bruce Talbot, Vithushan Ehantharajah and Julian Guyer, to Marcus Hook, our Treasurer, and to the members of the various sub-Committees whose work is vital to the continued efficiency of the club's week-to-week administration.
Lead Secretary's message Alan Gardner writes:
With the days getting longer, Siberian winds whipping across the land and a ruckus brewing about balancing the game's three formats, it can surely only mean one thing: a new season is almost upon us. Well done for making it through the winter months, whether that was dealing with cold, miserable conditions in the UK, or hot, miserable conditions following England down under (ODIs aside).
The main job of the secretarial team over the winter involved redrafting the constitution - largely streamlining and updating various sections, as well as fully incorporating all the awards organised by the Club - in order for it to be voted on at this year's AGM. A fair bit has changed in both the game and the way the CWC is run since the constitution was last looked at in 2012, so hopefully, once it has been put to the Committee, our changes will meet the approval of the Membership. This is also a good opportunity to send a reminder about how to propose new Members, which should be done in time for the Committee to access candidates ahead of the AGM. Details of the process can be found at the following web address, but please feel free to contact me directly with any questions: http://www.cricketwriters.com/how-to-join.html
It has been an enjoyable ten months in the job as Lead Secretary and the new system seems to be working well. My thanks, as always, to the chairman and my fellow secretariat members for sharing the load. I look forward to handing over to the safe hands of Vithushan in due course and seeing the addition of a suitably substantial name to the CWC honours board.
From the President David Warner writes:
For those Cricket Writers' Club members who are with England in New Zealand the 2018 domestic season will still seem to be in the far distant future, but for those of us who have endured a long English winter it will feel to be just around the corner.
If you are likely to be covering cricket at the newly-named Emerald Headingley in the Spring, then be prepared to look out on to a much changing scene.
No sooner was last season over than a massive redevelopment programme got underway affecting both the cricket and rugby grounds. The South stand of the rugby ground was quickly demolished with the new structure rapidly taking shape and at around the same time the shared North-South grandstand was bulldozed.
Because it was sandwiched in between two very expensive playing surfaces and with extremely cramped conditions in which to work, the stand took around eight weeks to flatten instead of what would have been three weeks or so in more normal circumstances.
Fortunately, reasonable weather has meant the redevelopment work is on schedule and the foundations for the North-South stand are now in and the steel work was able to begin on February 19. Huge amounts of concrete have been pumped into the foundations and one section alone was filled with 250 tonnes.
The floors are expected to start going down at the beginning of March and the stand will then start to work its way up and towards the building which once housed the old pavilion, the two structures eventually connecting.
It will take 20-plus weeks to get the stand assembled, so hacks covering Yorkshire and England from the Press Box in the Carnegie Pavilion will have plenty of other action to watch as well as from the cricket. The aim is to have all the work completed in time for the 2019 season when the ground will stage an Ashes Test and World Cup matches.
It is a rapidly changing game and I wish you all well in covering it throughout the 2018 season.
Finally, try to make it if you possible can to the CWC Annual General Meeting at Trent Bridge on April 25. Attendances were up last year when it was held at Edgbaston and let's hope we can go on building up numbers this time.
Treasurer's report Marcus Hook writes:
Thanks again to all the members who paid for their ticket(s) for the CWC annual lunch well in advance. It helped the Club's cash-flow immensely, as the venue insists on payment in full prior to the event. Ticket prices for this year's lunch will be announced in due course.
Books Richard Hobson writes:
Having repIaced Stephen Brenkley as chairman late last year, my first job was to put together a group for the 2018 award. Murray Hedgcock and Tanya Aldred have agreed to continue - which I really appreciate - alongside newcomers Richard Whitehead and Raf Nicholson. There's a good mix of youth, experience, writers, historians and academics, plus myself. Trevor Bond and Andrew McGlashan have stepped down this year. Brenks was keen to have a regular flow of panellists and if anyone wants to come on board in future, let me know.
At the moment, the panel operates more by convention than constitution. The ‘year' runs from July 1 to June 30 and contenders must be a piece of original cricket writing. Annuals (e.g. Wisden) and anthologies (e.g. Wisden at the Oval) have not been considered eligible, but I can see a case for admitting both and will have a bigger think about this before we start to consider 2019.
Brenks deserves a special mention. He established the award in the first place, then chaired the panel for its first 11 years. Last year alone, he read 38 cricket books in the line of duty (as well as pleasure). Anyone listening to his speeches at the dinner/lunch would have recognised his diligence.
Lunch sub-committee report Mark Baldwin writes:
The Lunch sub-Committee is due to meet on March 19 and, with subsequent approval from full Committee, is planning to outline all details for this year's Annual Lunch at the AGM on April 25. Ticket prices, menu choices etc. will hopefully be ratified by AGM attendees, as is necessary, and this detail will be circulated to all club members immediately afterwards.
If, however, you want to go ahead and reserve your place at this year's Lunch, which takes place on Tuesday October 2 at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel, Knightsbridge, then please contact Shilpa Patel in the first instance. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Lord's Taverners Impact Report 2017 Mike Hartwell writes:
The Lord's Taverners are creating more opportunities than ever before for young people from deprived areas and those with disabilities to engage in cricket and sport in their local communities.
Last year, the charity invested £4.4m in new equipment, facilities, resources and the significant expansion of all its cricket programmes across the UK. More than 300 schools play Table Cricket across 30 county boards, its Disability Cricket programme is now being delivered in London, Birmingham and Manchester with a further three locations set to be active by the end of 2018, while Wicketz is now delivered in 13 locations across the UK with more to come.
In 1981 a young British Airways stewardess, on a stopover in Dhaka, looked around at the squalor and the street kids and decided she wanted to do something. The upshot, with the support of the airline and many colleagues, was the Sreepur Village, opened in 1989. It is home to hundreds of destitute mothers and their children, and orphans as well, and has brought hope and chances - and sometimes university degrees - to generations of kids who would have otherwise had nothing.
Cricket has played a big part in Sreepur's life, particularly for the girls; one former villager is now close to selection for the Bangladesh women's team. England's cricketers first visited Sreepur in 1998; five years later a boy in a T-shirt and shorts peppered Andrew Flintoff with tennis-ball bouncers; in 2016 the girls' team met the players in Dhaka.
Sreepur's fund-raising speciality has long been its Christmas cards, hand-made by the mothers, and sold in the UK. In 2010 The Guardian's money pages alerted the public to the fact that most charity cards only gave 10% of the proceeds back to the charity whereas the Sreepur cards offered 100%.
However, Sreepur now faces unprecedented difficulties: BA no longer flies to Dhaka and so that connection is fading; the price of rice has rocketed; and, of course, the pound no longer goes as far as it did, even in Bangladesh. The funding the girls' team has had for professional coaching is now in jeopardy.
Alternatively you can donate via https://www.sreepurvillage.org/ This site also gives details of The Big Give, which runs for a week from midday GMT next Tuesday. In that period all donations to Sreepur will receive matched funding that will double all gifts.
Many thanks and Happy Christmas.
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
Stephen Brenkley has completed a splendid and dedicated spell of 11 years as chairman of the CWC Book Award sub-Committee. It is entirely down to Brenks' energy and vision that this Award has gone from strength to strength since 2007, when it was launched in large part because of Brenks' desire that the Club should have a cricket writing award for cricket writers. Remarkable that the Club didn't think of that one before, isn't it? I know Brenks is rightly very proud of the work he and his many sub-committee 'helpers' have done in establishing this award over the past decade, and that he is delighted that Richard Hobson has agreed to take over from him as chairman of the Book Award sub-Committee. As Brenks has done for its first 11 years, Hobbo will be rounding up a small panel to debate and discuss the identity of the 2018 CWC Book Award which will be announced at next year's Annual Lunch. Very many thanks, Brenks, for all you've done and many thanks, too, to Hobbo for taking on this role. Talking of the CWC Annual Lunch, the 2018 version will take place on Tuesday October 2, again at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel in Knightsbridge. ECB, MCC and PCA have already been consulted about the date, which we hope will not clash with any other end-of-season events being planned. Please mark the date in your 2018 diaries - assuming, that is, Father Christmas brings you one in your stocking.
Mark Baldwin, CWC Chairman 9th December, 2017
TWO BOOKS FOR THE XMAS LIST
CWC members Colin Bateman and Colin Evans have books out in good time for Christmas.
The former CWC Chairman, Colin Evans has penned 'Farokh - The Cricketing Cavalier', a 208-page biography of the former India and Lancashire wicketkeeper, which includes 32 pages of images and forewords by Sunil Gavaskar, Sir John Major and Jeffrey Archer; and a front cover portrait by the artist Christina Pierce.
Evans says: "Farokh and I worked together on this book for 12 months. He reckons I'm a 'facts and figures' man which is surprising because, as many ex-colleagues and cricketers would attest, I could never have been accused of that during my time as a reporter!"
Publisher Max Books (www.maxbooks.co.uk), Epworth House, 34 Wellington Road, Nantwich, Cheshire, CW5 7BX. Normal price £12.50, it is offered to members at £9.99 (including p and p). Orders direct from Max Books on line or by post. Cheques payable to Max Books.
Meanwhile, Colin Bateman has had his first novel published. Bateman says: "Many said that much of my journalistic work was pure fiction but this most definitely is. The first novel is finally out after a painful three-year gestation period. 'A Dreadful Trade' is what I would term a thriller, a bit of a whodunit, but not a cop novel. It has nothing to do with cricket, but don't let that put you off.
"If you would like to support a poor, struggling author (there is a reduced price of £9.00 for CWC members), please get in touch via email email@example.com"
WILLIAM HILL EXTEND CWC SPONSORSHIP
Following a meeting with Rupert Adams and Tony Rushmer, attended by myself and David Fulton on behalf of CWC, I am delighted to announce that William Hill have extended their long-running sponsorship of the Cricket Writers' Club into 2018, on the same financial level as before. This is excellent news for the club and I am sure I speak for all members when I reiterate how appreciative we are of William Hill's continued support.
As ever, I urge members to mention William Hill odds - and speciality bets - whenever relevant and appropriate in copy. These odds, as all members know, are sent out regularly by email and, additionally, Rupert Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org) is always available to give any further information that is required with regards to Test, ODI, T20 and domestic cricket odds, or speciality bets.
Mark Baldwin, CWC chairman 24th November, 2017
HARESFOOT BREWERY TOUR
CWC sponsors Haresfoot Brewery are running two exclusive brewery tours of their new site in Chesham in November. Those who book a tour can learn about the brewery's history, and the tour is followed by a tasting session with food also provided.
The tours are perfect for individuals, couples or small groups, and take place on Friday 17th November at 7.30pm and Saturday 18th November at 2pm. Please go to Haresfoot's brewery website to book (www.haresfoot.com).
Haresfoot's range of beers and speciality ales will also be available to buy during the event, including the CWC Ale, All-Rounder.
CHAIRMAN'S AUTUMN MESSAGE
What with the Ben Stokes Affair, the Oval Arrow, the Nat-Meg and the England Women's World Cup triumph, plus the return of Essex and the one-day heroics of Notts Outlaws, Jimmy's 500 and much else besides - plus the little matter of an upcoming Ashes series - it has been a summer of hard toil for cricket writers and cricket's media. Then again, ‘twas ever thus!
As for the Cricket Writers' Club, we have made what I believe are significant strides towards bedding in the new-look administrative structure. It is my intention, as Chairman, to return the Club to a situation in which the secretarial officers are clearly seen to be running our week-to-week affairs, supported of course by the Treasurer, Chairman and other Committee and sub-Committee members.
In the first three years of my chairmanship, from April 2014 to April of this year, much of the Club's administrative work was left to myself and especially to Wendy Wimbush in her long-established and hugely dedicated multi-roles. On Wendy's retirement from active frontline duty, back in March, we as a Club were required to address the question of how to keep things running without Wendy's hand on the tiller, as it were.
It was never going to be an easy task, but I am delighted that Marcus Hook, as Treasurer, and Shilpa Patel, on the Lunch sub-Committee, have stepped up with marked success to their new roles and that, on the secretarial side, Alan Gardner has quickly proved himself an excellent Lead Secretary for an initial period up to April 2018. As explained, and agreed, at the AGM at Edgbaston in April, Vithushan Ehantharajah will get his chance to experience the Lead Secretary's role in an initial year from next April, followed by Will Macpherson from April 2019 to April 2020.
By then, all three will have a better idea of how the Club runs itself, and its ongoing issues, and I am confident that Alan, Vish and Will - supported throughout by Bruce Talbot and Julian Guyer as assistant secretaries - will then be in a strong position to agree among themselves how best to take the secretarial side of the Club forward into the longer-term. All three of them will, I hope, be at the heart of the Club's life for many more years to come.
From my perspective, it is pleasing to see the five-man secretarial team successfully, and efficiently, carrying out the Club's administration this past summer and, by sharing the workload, I hope it has not proved too onerous for any of them. My thanks go to all five for their input so far, and their adaptability in making the new structure work.
The Annual Lunch, on October 3, was another notable success, with an attendance of 270 and almost all of our award winners being present on the day. I have received very many messages, from members and guests alike, saying how much they enjoyed the occasion and this, of course, reflects hugely on the efforts of the Lunch sub-committee, of Shilpa and Marcus in particular with regards to table planning and ticket sales, and to David Fulton for another brilliant performance as MC. Well done to all those Club members who supported the Lunch, and to the many who also brought along guests.
As a result of its success, the Lunch sub-Committee and full Committee have already acted quickly to secure the Jumeirah Carlton Tower Hotel as our Annual Lunch venue for another two years. We have signed-off on a deal which means we can hold both the 2018 and 2019 lunches at the hotel, on the same all-inclusive rate. This is a fine result for the Club, and I am once again grateful to Dominic van den Bergh for his help in negotiating this new two-year deal on our behalf.
Since the Lunch, the Committee have met to discuss various ongoing issues, and it will meet again in the Spring. Alan Gardner and myself - plus other members of the secretarial team and Committee - have also met to begin a re-drafting of the Club Constitution. This will be circulated to all members ahead of the AGM next year, once full Committee have passed it, for adoption at the AGM which, to remind everyone, will be held in April 2018 at Trent Bridge (date TBC).
Mark Baldwin, CWC chairman 30th October, 2017
XTC - THIS IS POP
Charlie Thomas, latterly of Sky Sports News and a long-serving CWC member and former Fleet Street Wanderers ‘all-rounder', would like to inform all Club members about the upcoming screening of two more music documentaries in which he has been involved in producing.
Many members will have seen films produced in recent years on 10cc and UB40 and Charlie informs us that his latest documentary, 'XTC - This Is Pop', goes out on Sky Arts on Saturday October 7th at 9.00pm, featuring Harry Shearer (The Simpsons, Spinal Tap), Stewart Copeland (The Police) and Clem Burke (Blondie), plus of course XTC themselves.
A further film about Fairport Convention follows in November, featuring Steve Winwood, Ian Anderson, Rick Wakeman and original member Richard Thompson, who is an avid cricket fan and, despite living in LA these days, still follows England's fortunes on Test Match Special.