Cricket Club

Last month, I referred to a notebook passed to me by John Durling, who had played for the club in the 1940’s and 50’s. The following notes, written no later than 1954, cover the history of the cricket club upto and including World War II. The post-war extract follows next month. In both instances there are many gaps, which I would like to fill from the direct knowledge of any reader who remembers those days or has family records of them.

In 1885 there was a small club running in the village, which had their ground on Rayner’s Meadow, now the farm’s yard. It was not until 1895, ten years later, that the Rev T.W. Longfield formed the present club backed by other members of the village. The ground was then changed to the Rectory Meadow where it is to the present day. Boundary lines have altered considerably during the years. The boundary then was between two pools, the one in the wheelwright’s yard and the one in the Rectory garden.

 It was not until 1900 that the club really found its feet. There were only 6 or 8 matches a season played at first mainly against St Marys, Stoke, Grain and, later, Higham. Since 1900 the club steadily grew and was quite good by the time Mr Kemp was headmaster at the School.

Over the years, the boundaries of the ground have gradually worked away from the Rectory Garden until 1939, when the pitch was in the middle of the field. The old, original boundaries had by this time been taken over and a flourishing tennis club was now being run.

1939 saw the beginning of World War II and for nearly 3 years the ground was neglected, But in 1943 got the club together again. Fixtures were few were mainly between local army units. The war first bought Sunday cricket to the village which has now become very popular.

Playing records for this period only begin in 1939, and show those players who scored 50 or more in a game and those who took 7 or more wickets in an innings. Many of you will recognise the names:

Name Runs Date Opponents
R. Cross 54 10 June 1939 Henley’s
G. Humphreys 58 17 June 1939 Rainbow
J. Aynes 52 n.o. 22 July 1939 Meopham
A. Corbett 60 29 July 1939 Chatham Albion
J. Hillier 58 29 July 1939 Chatham Albion
B. Munday 54 19 August 1939 Rainbow
R. Cross 65 18 May 1940 Rainbow
R. Cross 56 8 July 1940 Tower Hill Battery
A.Welch 71 9 July 1940 Fenn St Battery
R. Cross 62 23 July 1940 Battery R A
A. Corbett 58 30 July 1940 Fenn St Battery
A Corbett 65 31 July 1940 Capt Bird’s XI
R. Cross 78 7 August 1940 R.E.
R. Cross 81 n.o. 14 August 1940 235 Battery

Seven wickets in an innings by one bowler is not a frequent occurrence, however Arthur Corbett achieved the milestone 3 times in 1939 and Ron Hampton once:

Name Date Wkts Runs Overs Maidens Opponents
R. Hampton 27 May 7 17 4 1 GillinghamCongregationals
A. Corbett 8 June 7 18 7 1 Lyles XI
A. Corbett 8 July 7 27 11 5 Wanderers
A. Corbett 29 July 7 26 10 4 Chatham Albion

 Our current players will do well to reach and maintain the standards set by these stalwarts of the club. The new season starts on 13th April, weather permitting, and indoor nets are already under way. The colts (under 17 and younger) are at King’s School on every Sunday between 3 and 5 in the afternoon, whilst the adults are at Hoo School between 7 and 9 on Thursday evenings. All players, and prospective players are urged to attend. We have recently secured significant sponsorship from a major international company, which will help with necessary equipment supplies and maintenance. Further opportunities of support, particularly from local companies and individuals, are readily available to those interested in keeping cricket alive in the village.

David Lapthorn Life President

First Published in February 2013 High Halstow Times

As promised in the last edition of High Halstow Times, the following notes, covering the immediate post-World War II years, are drawn from a book of club records handed to me by John Durling, who played for the club during this period.

1945 saw the Club come into its own again with a permanent fixture list, instead of relying on chance fixtures. In 1946 and 1947 much work and improvement was done do the club and ground. The pitch was improved and the boundaries were extended, and for the first time ever the complete ground was cut to the level of the table (square).

In 1946, Bert Munday hit a century against Cobham. This was the first known century by a member of the Club. In 1948, Mr B.H. Valentine, the former Kent and England cricketer, came to live in the village. 1949 was a good year for the Club and for the first time a member, Arthur Corbett, took 100 wickets in a season. On 23rd September of that year, Mr Valentine invited the whole Kent XI down to the Club. The game was a great success and raised nearly £100 for the church restoration fund.

1950 again saw the Kent XI at the Club, also the Middlesex and England cricketer Denis Compton. The proceeds of the match went to Douglas Wright’s Benefit. The season was a poor one for the Club, only winning 11 out of the 41 matches played. The year had begun on a sad noted when one of the Club’s youngest and best liked players, Pilot 2 R. Hall was tragically killed when his Spitfire crashed into the jungle.

There the written word ends, but records drawn from the score books of the time cover the years to 1953. The team performance is summarised as follows:

Season Played Won Drawn Tied Lost
1949 38 23 5 0 10
1950 41 11 7 2 20
1951 26 12 2 0 12
1952 32 16 3 0 11
1953 37 10 7 0 19

In those matches, 75% of the games were played at home, and there were only 19 team totals in excess of 200 runs. In the current game, 200 is considered a par score for a 50 over innings and, when the ground is at its fastest, something nearer 230 can be difficult to defend. I suspect the grass was longer in those days, even though the boundaries may have been shorter, and bats have got better in recent years. But maybe there was more guile and cunning exercised by batsmen and bowlers in the early 1950’s, compared with the big hitting that we often see today. Certainly the bowling records of Arthur Corbett and Ron Hampton indicate they made life very difficult for the opposition.

Whilst on the subject of long grass, the first cut of the outfield for the 2013 season should have been made by now. As I write this, with snow falling, the playing area is more like wetlands, with long grass (up to 12 inches in places) hiding puddles of surface water. There seems little prospect of getting the mowers out until well into March, by which time it may be necessary to revert to sheep – the mowers of choice between the wars!

In the hope that we will be able to get games started in April as planned, thoughts are turning to later in the season when a “Six’s” competition is planned for the weekend of the August Bank Holiday. Clubs from all over Kent are to be invited to take part in teams of 6 (hence the name). As said earlier, it can be difficult to save runs on Rayner’s Meadow with teams of 11 players, so teams of 6 covering the same area leads to great excitement (and tiredness!).The whole event will be held in support of children’s diabetes charities, and we hope that other village organisations will avail themselves of the opportunity to take part with stalls and other activities at what is expected to be a major event in the calendar this year. More details next month!

David Lapthorn Life President

First Published in March 2013 High Halstow Times