Cricketing tales

9:29am Thursday 11th December 2008

By Don Chambers

There’s nothing quite like a good old clearout to sort the wheat from the chaff, the good from the downright ridiculous, and to get the memory box working at top speed.

Such an occasion presented itself when a major cull of just about everything found in dusty boxes or left all alone and tattered on a shelf almost out of reach.

But falling like welcome snowflakes on a crisp Christmas morning, some of the items, I realised, were old friends and rightly deserve another public airing. One such gem is Looking Back, a slim 72-page history of Abergavenny Cricket Club from 1834-1984, chock-a-block with facts and figures and a statistical record of the players’ achievements.

My association with the club as a keen and green young reporter and part-time scorer if a “real” one was not available, began in the 1950s. And, sure enough, in 1961 the names are there: Brian Shackleton, Lew White, Bob Jennings and the Likely Lads, two young men by the name of Malcolm and Colin Nash. In that year Lew made the most runs (657) and Bill Macpherson, another familiar name, took the most wickets (65).

Even earlier, Tommy Adams took 100 wickets in the 1949 season and topped the batting the following year as he had done in 1946 and 1947 (the worst winter in living memory with six-foot deep snow).

The first task when the club was formed in 1834 was to find a suitable ground. Those involved eventually settled for a “rough field” between Lion Lane (now Lion Street) and Hereford Road – “a cricket ball throw from the market,” so it was said.

Underarm bowling was still the most common type but round-arm was permitted while overarm was introduced in 1864, the year the great W G Grace came onto the cricket scene and dominated the game for years to come.

In the 1850s, Abergavenny’s opposition included Brecon, Hereford, Monmouth, Newport, Raglan, Tredegar and Crickhowell, also known as Lord Malden’s XI.

In a local derby against their nearby rivals, Abergavenny made 264 with the aid of 54 extras that included 27 wides and Crickhowell were 88-7 when rain stopped play.

This period in Abergavenny cricket history is described as The First Golden Age in Looking Back.

When we take another dip into the club’s history, it will be the section entitled Foundations, which covers the period from 1834 to 1840.

Keep an eye out!


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