Through the Fifties

I became a member in 1948 and have been associated with the Club ever since, though my playing career was relatively brief. Many people, places and events have now escaped my memory but here are just a few.

The Old County Ground is the most splendid I have ever known in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with its eternal symmetry and the beauty of the changing colours of the trees. Players and spectators alike are privileged and blessed by its calm serenity.

The wicket, sadly but understandably, falls below the perfection achieved over many years by Bill Hansell, a devoted full-time expert. Stan Wilmot was the best umpire for miles around. Both dated back to pre-war and seemed indestructible until time caught up with them. They are largely responsible for making Brentwood a great Club with an enviable reputation.

You could bat on Bill's wickets with your eyes shut - unless it was a "sticky"! The only mistake I can recall Stan ever making was giving me not-out when I thought I was but failed to walk, out of consideration for his feelings - of course.

Now for a few brief episodes worth recalling from my playing days together with a brief summary of the present situation. The Club remains good and friendly, combining experienced players with many promising youngsters. Of course, it is now embroiled in the more frenzied atmosphere of the Truman Essex League, and like all Clubs has benefitted from the law of twenty overs beginning in the last hour, which has largely eradicated the gamesmanship previously employed by unscrupulous Captains.

My first Captain was Lewis Bayman, a fine sportsman, if sometimes too generous to the opposition. On one occasion a Brentwood fielder jockeyed the batsman into attempting a risky second run. His dreadful throw, however, bisected the wickets and struck the runner desperately trying to make his ground at the wicket-keeper's end. The ball ran on in advance of him hitting the stumps. On appeal Stan had no option but to give him "out". Lewis, however, recalled the batsman on the grounds that it was a too unlucky dismissal. What would have been the reaction of today's cricketers, I wonder?

After Lewis, came Dennis Banks, Jack McIntyre and Ken Letch, who had also served as Secretary for many years. Jack was always rather a cavalier in his attitude to winning, losing or drawing. Sometimes draws are the best result if fought for when a win proves impossible. Furthermore they can produce great satisfaction to one side and infuriating frustration to the other.

In more modern times John Whitcombe adopted a more ruthless and caustic attitude imported from County Cricket. Selection of XI's became stricter and opportunities on the field of play for youngsters more restricted. Brian Goodwin inherited this attitude. John was a great batsman, a great wicket-keeper and later an indifferent bowler. Most batsmen seem to think they can bowl better than bat. The majority of his many runs and centuries were scored behind on both sides of the wicket with incredible improvisation. Opposing sides knew this and tried to block his favourite shots, usually to no avail. Brian was a very good off-spinner though his many changes of flight tended to be a little too obvious: also, his batting was far from being negligible.

Since John and Brian our Captains have been Bobby Mayes, Keith Goodman and Brian Baker, all of them good Captains and good players. One of the Club's best players of the 1950's was Lionel Cole, a brilliant and random batsman, who once hit a six over the wicket-keeper's head at Chelmsford, with what can only be described as a 'tennis' shot - forgive the word! He was the scourge of opening bowlers from the very first ball, treating them with scant respect. In this sense he was akin to Tony Hillary. Tony should have won his Blue at Cambridge, but was dropped from the XI at the last minute as being too unorthodox. His replacement, John Cockett, bagged a pair in the University match. Irony.

Another little incident from the same era involved a certain Brentwood cover-point who suddenly felt a great pain in his right buttock. Seconds later his agony was repeated, causing him to leap around uttering strange cries to everyone's great amusement. He investigated at last by undoing his trousers and pulling out his shirt. Out flew a bee. So a bee can sting twice just as lightning can strike twice in the same place.

In more recent years the Cricket Club has been amalgamated with the Hockey and Tennis Clubs in the County Ground Club. Our affinities lie more with the Hockey Club, hockey being almost as good a game as cricket. This is not intended as a profanity.

I will end my haphazard comments by wishing Brentwood Cricket Club "Good Luck". Long may it flourish, as it flourishes now, even for another hundred years and another and another ...

CHARLES EDGSON joined Brentwood C.C. in 1948 on accepting an appointment to teach at Brentwood School, and from which career he finally retired in 1980. His playing career with Brentwood was relatively short since he devoted the best years of his life to playing for Leicestershire, rather like David Gower, in fact, whose club cricket career "down south" was also brief in the vain pursuit of bringing success to the aforementioned county. Like Gower, Charles was often acclaimed as an "elegant" batsman, but for those readers unable to span the age gap, any other similarities must stretch the imagination too much. Charles has been our President since 1976, a position which he has undertaken with the utmost conscientiousness and zest, not least by his insistence on the strict observance of all Club rules, particularly those relating to bar opening times.

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