This edition is so packed that there is no room for an editorial (or quiz) so it’s straight into…..
Northamptonshire opening batter Emilio Gay will miss the start of the season following knee surgery. Gay also missed the preseason tour to South Africa. Former Leicestershire opener Hassan Azad has joined Northamptonshire on a trial basis.
Former Northamptonshire and Netherlands bowler Brandon Glover has signed a two-year contract.
Northamptonshire have signed Australian pace bowler Andrew Tye for the T20 Blast competition. The 36 year-old has played seven ODIs and 32 T20 appearances for his country. Tye has previously played county cricket for Gloucestershire.
John Gordon ‘Gus’ Williamson has died at the age of 86. He made 55 first-class appearances for Northamptonshire between 1959 and 1962. Born at Stockton-on-Tees Williamson played Minor Counties cricket with Durham before and after his years with Northants. In 1974 he moved to play for Cheshire. In his first-class career for the county he scored 796 runs , claimed 119 wickets and took 28 catches.
Former Northamptonshire captain Geoff Cook was one of the inaugural inductees to the Durham Cricket Hall of Fame in March. Another cricketer with both Durham and Northamptonshire connections Kyle Coetzer has retired from playing and will coach women’s side Northern Diamonds.
Northamptonshire women cricketers Jodi Grewcock and Florence Miller have signed their first professional contracts with the regional team Sunrisers. The Sunrisers will also benefit from Northamptonshire bowling coach Chris Liddle’s assistant this season. The Sunrisers will play Western Storm at the County Ground at 2.30pm on Wednesday 31 May as part of a T20 double header. They also face Thunder in a 50 over match at the County Ground on Saturday 15 July at 10.30am. The 50-over Rachael Heyhoe-Flint Trophy Final takes place at the County Ground on Sunday 24 September.
The longest serving match official in the Football League and an Assistant Referee, who ran the line in a FIFA World Cup Quarter-Final both have a connection with Northamptonshire County Cricket Club.
Born on Wednesday 20th April 1966 at St. Mary’s Hospital, Kettering and raised at Desborough, Andy Woolmer became a Football League linesman in 1994 and was promoted to the Referees List nine years later. He is now in his 29th season as a match official, longer than anyone else during the 135 years of the competition.
Although he is known as Andy Woolmer, his birth certificate shows that his official name is Keith Andrew Woolmer. His Northamptonshire Cricket supporting father’s favourite was Keith Andrew who is arguably the best captain and wicketkeeper that Northants has ever had in its history.
Mr Andrew was born on Sunday 15th December 1929 at Oldham and he made his first-class debut for the County on Wednesday 3rd June 1953 and enjoyed 14 seasons at Northampton. He made 351 appearances in first-class cricket for Northants, just two short of the great Wollaston-born wicketkeeper Ben Bellamy who played in 353 matches and holds the record for a Northamptonshire player behind the stumps.
The Assistant Referee who ran the line at the World Cup Quarter-Final between Brazil and Croatia in December 2022 was Stuart Burt who lives in Baker Street, Northampton. Stuart became a Football League Assistant Referee in 2006 and his godfather is a member of the NCCC Hall of Fame – Peter Willey.
Born on Tuesday 6th December 1949 at Sedgefield, Peter made his First-Class debut at Cambridge University in a three-day friendly match which commenced on Saturday 4th June 1966 and spent 18 seasons at Wantage Road. He made 319 First-Class appearances for the Tudor Rose and was also a prolific one-day cricketer, including being named as Man of the Match in the Gillette Cup Final triumph over Lancashire at Lord’s on Saturday 4th September 1976
SECOND ELEVEN FIXTURES
11 to 13 April v Leeds/Bradford UCCE at Westwood Sports Ground, Leeds (Friendly)
17 to 20 April v Glamorgan at Newport (Championship)
24 to 26 April v Loughborough UCCE at Haselgrave, Loughborough (Friendly)
1 to 4 May v Somerset at Dunstable (Championship)
8 May v Netherlands at Dunstable (50 overs Friendly)
11 May v Netherlands at Dunstable (Two T20 Friendlies)
15 May v London Schools at Northampton (Two T20 Friendlies)
17 May v Warwickshire at Edgbaston Community Sports Ground (Two T20s)
22 May v Worcestershire at Kidderminster (Two T20s)
23 May v Glamorgan at Newport (T20)
30 May v Somerset at Taunton Vale (Two T20s)
1 June v Gloucestershire at Cheltenham College (Two T20s)
5 June v Glamorgan at Stowe School (Two T20s)
12 to 15 June v Gloucestershire at Rockhampton (Championship)
19 to 22 June v Yorkshire at Weetwood CC (Championship)
3 to 6 July v Worcestershire at Geddington (Championship)
17 to 20 July v Warwickshire at Edgbaston Community Sports Ground (Championship)
24 to 27 July v Leicestershire at Northampton (Championship)
30 July v Cambridgeshire at Peterborough (50 over Friendly)
1 August v Leicestershire at Leicester (50 over Friendly)
10 August v Leicestershire at Overstone Park (50 over Friendly)
14 August v London Schools at Finchley (50 over Friendly)
21 to 24 August v Glamorgan at Campbell Park, Milton Keynes (Championship)
28 to 30 August v South Asian Cricket Academy at Overstone Park (Friendly)
4 to 7 September v Sussex at Peterborough (Championship)
11 to 14 September v Nottinghamshire at Notts Sports Club, Lady Bay, Nottingham (Championship)
The first name which comes to mind is Sarfraz Nawaz because he was playing for Northamptonshire the first time, I watched them in 1979. He made a vivid impression when he took the new ball near the end of the day after Northamptonshire had reached 303 for 8 from the 100 overs which was the first innings limit at that time.
Having thought Sarfraz to be fast medium, he worked up considerable pace, giving Kepler Wessels a hard time and having the Sussex opener LBW for 0. His figures were 2 for 5 from 12 overs 9 of which were maidens.
Sarfraz was in the Pakistan team I had seen at the Oval in 1974 which was a high scoring test destined to be a draw from early on. The bowlers had a hard time England replying to Pakistan’s 600 for 7 declared with 545 all out.
That match gave me my first glimpse of Mushtaq Mohammed, probably the greatest overseas signing from Pakistan, as well as a 21 year old Imran Khan.
Mushtaq must have built up a keen following at Wantage Road as he is still well thought of. What surprised me was the number of wickets he took with his leg spin. I had thought of him as a batter who bowled a bit, but his bowling was high class. 936 career wickets at 24.34 with a best analysis of 7 for 18 says a lot.
There was one occasion I saw Mushtaq bat at Northampton Saints Ground . I think it was a benefit game of some sort and he opened the batting. He hit one sumptuous drive for 4, then put the next delivery straight into a fielder’s hands. Sheer disappointment.
Only two more Pakistan players have represented Northamptonshire according to my research, Mohammed Akram and Shahid Afridi. The former played in1997 as a pace bowler who seemed to be building a promising test career. He suffered injuries which meant a stop, start season and showed his best form occasionally. He did return to county cricket from 2003 to 2007 for Essex, Sussex and Surrey.
As usual please tell me if I have missed anyone. Of course, Shahid Afridi and Faheem Ashraf have been Steelbacks in the Blast.
Sadly, Wasim Akram did not play for Northamptonshire but I have memories of some fabulous bowling for Lancashire. There was 7-53 at the County Ground in 1988 when he received a little assistance from the weather resting during a number of rain breaks. 1995 at Old Trafford a defeat featured 7-73 for Wasim in the second innings after a brave 90 from Russell Warren in the first.
Best of all, though, was a leaping catch by Alan Fordham to hold on to a scorching drive from Wasim. Didn’t see him score many runs.
GEMS FROM INDIA
My first sight of Bishen Bedi was a test at the Oval in 1971. Working in London it was often tempting to rush out of the office at 5 and take the Tube to the Oval for the last hour. Bedi did not stand out; it was Alan Knott who made a typically inventive 90.
It ended as India’s first win in England although Bedi’s match figures were 3-121. It was Chandrasekhar who zipped through the English batting with 6-38.
My first sight of Northamptonshire cricket came two years after Bedi ended his spell at the County Ground. It was Kapil Dev who lit up many a quiet day at that venue. One of my fondest memories was a John Player game at Milton Keynes, the Bletchley ground I believe. Derbyshire made 233 for 5 from their 40 overs, the powerful John Wright top scoring with 75. What followed was a 5 wicket Northants win with one over to spare, and an explosive 75 from Kapil Dev. His bowling did not match his record with the ball but at Trent Bridge, his 4-24 set up an astonishing two day innings win against Nottinghamshire. Those first innings figures came from 21.1 overs and included 11 maidens.
Kapil was best known for captaining India to that remarkable World Cup final win against West Indies in 1983 and his assault on Eddie Hemmings in the Lord’s test in 1990 to avoid the follow on for India. He struck 4 straight sixes into the building works, formerly known as the Nursery End. When I had the privilege of watching him he was aggressive but graceful whether batting, bowling or fielding.
Wikipedia lists four Indian overseas players which brings me to Anil Kumble whose one season was the best I’ve witnessed. His 105 championship wickets in 1995 was an achievement I never expected and his contribution was enormous. There were a number of top drawer performances but the one which stands out for me, was the victory over Nottinghamshire at Wantage Road. It was only one of several fine contributions to an outstanding match, but he saw us home at the end. It was a victory from Nottinghamshire’s 1st innings 527 including Anil’s 4 for 118 from 50 overs, to which our boys replied with 781 for 7 including 4 tons and 2 50s, adding to Notts’ double and single tons.
Allan Lamb set a target of 255 when the free scoring ended abruptly. Nottinghamshire did not prosper in trying to reach what seemed a gettable total and only managed 157 from 88.1 overs. The stranglehold was particularly strong when Anil was bowling and his 39 overs yielded 5 for
43. It was a fascinating example of accurate probing leg spin bowling.
It was unfortunate that India toured England in 1996, otherwise he might have returned
The fourth Indian overseas player was Sourav Ganguly who played in the T20 and I believe one championship game. It was a short term signing something common these days but not quite so much in 2006.
The Indian player I would love to have seen batting for Northamptonshire was Mohammed Azharuddin. For a while he was forceful and aggressive in the manner of Viv Richards pressuring the bowlers from the first ball. It was sad to learn of his involvement with bookmakers which damaged his image and legacy as one of the greats.
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TOMBOLA AND RAFFLE 2023
This year’s Tombola will take place on Sunday 6th August during the 50-over match against Sussex. Please donate to us and purchase tickets on the day!
The Raffle will be held on Sunday 20th August during the 50-over match versus Glamorgan.
NUMBER 217 REMEMBERED – KEN FIDDLING
Ken Fiddling was born at Hebden Bridge in Yorkshire on 13th October 1917. He joined his native county in 1938 and made 18 appearances for the White Rose either side of the Second World War.
Facing stiff competition from Paul Gibb and Arthur Wood (both Test match ‘keepers) he moved to Northamptonshire in 1947. He remained Northamptonshire’s first choice wicketkeeper through to the middle of the 1952 season.
In his Northamptonshire career he totalled 203 catches and 63 stumpings, including 55 dismissals in the 1951 season. However in June 1952 he went down with appendicitis. This was followed in 1953 by his suffering a stress fracture to the foot which led to his contract being cancelled and the end of his first-class career.
Less successful with the bat Fiddling scored 1198 runs (average 11.98). His highest innings was 68 against Surrey at The Oval in 1947.Ken Fiddling died at Halifax, West Yorkshire on 19th June 1992