Inflatable pads and all ….. by Rob Batiste    Guernsey Evening Press 1st Aug 2020

The remarkable Sir Julian Cahn was among the plethora of visiting cricketers Rob Batiste discovers as he looks back at the 1930s in the latest instalment of his series.

A DECADE that started out so promisingly for an expanding Island cricket scene ended prematurely – and not simply because of an impending war with the Germans. It was also an odd time in many ways. For a start you could still play for a draw in evening cricket, which was playing under the banner of the ‘Commercial League’, and it was not uncommon to start an evening game as late as 6.50pm.In the second week of July 1933 Pessimists and Gasco made the headlines: ‘An extraordinary ‘match’. Between them they scored 337 runs as the bowling was ‘flogged unmercifully’ up on the Fort Field. It was already 7.5Opm when Pessimists declared at 172 for 9. Yet, with Smith smashing a quickfire 75, Gasco stayed in the hunt and only lost their ninth wicket on 167, six short of victory and the clock now showing 9.30. Gasco sent out their last man who, on the grounds of having not fielded, was objected to by Pessimists. But ‘an eminent authority present’ stated that he could bat, but no sooner had he reached the middle in the dark, the stumps were drawn and the match declared a draw. For much of the period, Pilgrims were the team to beat, winning three successive titles between 1932 and 1934, while Banks helped themselves to two crowns, including the 1937 title which proved the last to be played for fully nine years. In their dominant years it was men such as Tudor Williams, Alec Rose, Hilary Rich and C. Helyer who caught the eye, but with Williams and Rose also being masters at the Intermediate, local talent was also being developed outside of the College.

By the end of the decade Johnny Martel, who had started out at the Intermediate before switching to the College, was also their predominant batsman and other young emerging players were PE Ryan, MA Wilson and G. Pugh.

Initially, it had started all so well with a major boost for the fast-developing evening game being when they said goodbye – with a degree of good riddance – to the bumpy Beau Sejour pitch. The Queen’s Royal West Kent Regiment was based at Fort George at the time and thanks to local groundsman Mr Veale, they maintained quite a good wicket at the Fort Field. In 1931, through the good offices of the Guernsey Press supremo Mr F. F. Peek, the Guernsey Cricket League obtained permission to use the ground and until the outbreak of the Second World War, cricketers enjoyed Evening League Cricket there under good conditions. It was at this time the eight-ball over was introduced. In 1932, the original concept of club teams was altered and club membership became open to all bona fide residents on the island. As many games as possible were to be played at the Fort Field – the insurance policy to be renewed if any games were played at Beau Sejour. The league’s relationship with Beau Sejour seemed to be fractious and in the closing weeks of the 1930 season the ground was suddenly made unavailable. Six years later, the pitch crisis had once again re-established itself even though the Fort Field was made available by the garrison once a week and Elizabeth College occasionally made their ground available. ‘The island’s need of more playing areas is a very pressing one … and this could be a very serious setback at a time when cricket is making a great advance’, wrote the Press correspondent in 1936, having noted what was happening in the UK with regards to the King George V Field playing fields initiative. Three years later Guernsey’s KGV was finally operational and played its first game in early June 1939, just in time for the Germans to arrive and turn it into a military camp. By then new Island stars had come to the fore, middle-order batsmen like Johnny Martel who, in July 1936, just missed out on scoring three successive centuries.

The very first game at KGV featured the Commercial League against Elizabeth College. Thanks to the brilliant bowling of ‘Willie’ Watling, the College boys, who now had the former county cricketer Jack Reddish running all their sport, triumphed. But the ground had come too late to allow a full Evening League programme.

At the start of the 1930s, Guernsey Island CC were still operating under the
captaincy of their star old Major Edward Morres, but it would be his last summer before being deposed by AVW Young. The August touring season had a new set of faces in Sir Julian Cahn’s XI and when they arrived at the College Field for a two- day game, Surrey amateur T. C. ‘Lofty’ Newman hit a double- century in a total of 406 of which Sir Julian, opening the batting, contributed exactly nought. Guernsey would have been demolished but for a fine second innings century from the newly- qualified Old Elizabethan, Howard Stone, back for the summer.

Sir Julian, a very wealthy British businessman, philanthropist and cricket enthusiast, had stacks of influence and no cricketing skills. His Wikipedia page states: ‘From 1929 to 1939, Cahn was the captain of his own team, the Sir Julien Cahn XI, that toured the world. It was one of the most successful teams, losing only 19 out of 621 cricket matches. Cahn recruited top players from outside England, including Australians Vic Jackson and Jack Walsh. Cahn played in many of his team’s matches, including six of the first-class matches they played between 1929 and 1939.

He made his first-class debut in March 1929 at the age of 46 when his team was playing in Jamaica.’ The cricket author Stephen Chalke wrote this less than glowing piece on Sir J: ‘No English first-class cricketer of the 20th century can have had less ability than Cahn. He was a hypochondriac, often preferring his electric wheelchair to walking he batted m special inflatable pads that it was his chauffeur’s duty to pump up. ‘Also playing in that 1930 touring side was the future England vice-captain, Walter Robins, who had made his debut in first-class cricket, for Middlesex, in 1925. At Cambridge he won cricket blues in each of his three years, 1926 to 1928, and the summer before scoring 75 in a big partnership with double- centurion Newman had played his first Test match, against South Africa.

Thereafter the talented amateur played intermittently for England in each of the seasons up to1937 and toured Australia as vice-captain to ‘Gubby’ Alien in 1936-37. In 1947 he led Middlesex to the County Championship.

Howard Stone was scoring centuries for fun this summer, while a year later fellow OE, Les, made the headlines when he returned figures of 8 for 0 as pessimists routed Militia CC for just 15.utside of the College, Guernsey was still struggling to produce outstanding new talent and in taking on Jersey and the top visiting sides, there was still a heavy reliance on the English gentry and men such as ‘Granny’ Alston and the new College pro. V A. Lewis. The ‘Island Club’ continued taking on strong touring opposition each summer, including the likes of Sir Theodore Brinckman’s XI who gave both Guernsey and the Cl sides a hiding in 1938.

It was that same August that the nomadic touring club Arabs -led by their founder and driving force E. W Swanton – arrived and the Sussex ‘Jessop’ Hugh Bartlett added to his achievement of having hit the fastest first-class century that season, by smashing 226 off the Island CC bowling out of a total of 331. It was the highest individual score ever raised on the College Field scoreboard and, quite possibly, still is. The summer of ’38 is regarded as the amateur Bartlett’s finest year. It is said that while travelling by train to Leeds to play Yorkshire in May, his captain Jack Holmes told him: ‘If you score 50, I will give you your cap … a 50 against Yorkshire is worth 150 against any other county’. Sussex lost their first five wickets for 106 when Bartlett joined Harry Parks. They added 126 in 75 minutes, of which Bartlett scored 94. The bowlers included Bill Bowes and Hedley Verity and he hit seven sixes (all off Verity) and nine fours. Later at Lord’s, Bartlett made 175 not out in his first appearance for Gentlemen against the Players. One six off Morris Nichols deposited the ball in a grandstand turret. ‘I do not recall’, wrote the Cricketer correspondent, ‘even Jessop treating professional bowling quite so roughly as he did in this innings’. On 27 August 1938, a few weeks after Bartlett had been in Guernsey, the Australians arrived at Hove and Bartlett hit 157 in two hours. That century won Bartlett the Lawrence Trophy for the fastest hundred of the season. With 1,548 runs at 57.33, Bartlett finished fifth in the averages behind Wally Hammond, Joe Hardstaff, Jr., Len Hutton and Eddie Paynter. Wisden elected him as a Cricketer of the Year in their 1939 edition, but whether his College Field double-century rated a mention is unclear. The 1939 Guernsey season proved quieter than usual and, unsurprisingly given the imminent threat of war, there were no touring sides that August. But Guernsey cricket bade a fond farewell until 1946 with a win over Jersey. Thanks to the efforts of the sturdy Stone (49 and 50) and the ‘Hanovian’ all-rounder Byam (64 and 10 wickets) and paceman Rose (8 for 60) GlCC beat JICC by 68 runs in the big annual two-day clash. Skipper Stone saved the home team from a second innings humiliation, thrashing the bowling for a quickfire half- century as colleagues fell cheaply around him. As it was GlCC only totalled 72 in their second knock, 190 fewer than their first. JICC were left 167 for victory but Rose and Byam soon dashed their hopes and it needed the Caesarean tail to wag for them to reach 98. For poor old Watling and Rose, it was the last they saw of their beloved old College Field as players, the young tyros casualties of the conflict just around the corner.

TEAM OF THE DECADE

  1. J. Reddish
  2. J. A. Symes
  3. J. A. Martel
  4. H. V. Stone
  5. W. C. Watling
  6. L.E.M. Byam
  7. R. G. Fletcher
  8. H. P. Rich
  9. R. P. Collas (w/k)
  10. B. C. Rose
  11. L L Stone

Outstanding College trio ended fallen heroes  by Rob Batiste  GEP      1st Aug 2020

THE Jack Reddish ‘effect’ had been quick to work – and work wonders it did on the cricket fields. The 1930s was a strong period for Elizabeth but it was ultimately blackened by tragedy. Three of Elizabeth’s quartet of truly outstanding players of the period were to leave the school as sporting heroes and by the time the Second World War was over they were all fallen ones. John Carey, ‘Willie’ Watling and Brian Rose were outstanding. Carey as a batsman who could concentrate for long periods, Watling for his outstanding all-round qualities which perhaps swung – just – towards his pace bowling, and Rose, perhaps the fastest opening bowler the school had ever possessed.

Elizabeth College 1st XI 1937

Initially, the star of the show was Paul Le Masurier, a tormentor of Victoria College batsmen between 1931 and 1934. Not with pace, but leg spin. In 1931, Elizabeth were bowled out for just 89, they looked pretty much done for. But Le Masurier was having none of it and returning figures of 21 overs, eight maidens, nine for 25, Victoria were shot out for 72. In the return game Le Masurier set up Elizabeth’s first win on Jersey soil in 13 years with figures of 7 for 32. By the end of the season he had taken 80 wickets. In 1932, the all-rounder took 8 for 23 from as Victoria were shot out for just 44. In the return game on a fast wicket in Jersey, he took 5 for 39 and 8 for 54, but the visitors lost after a disastrous first innings display. Only in 1933, did he fail to run through the Victorians, missing one game and then taking just two wickets in the second game. Not that anyone was complaining, as his team won. In the first game Carey had scored a fine 107 at No. 3 and Ryan a sprightly 80 at No. 6. It is intriguing to read what their coach and hard taskmaster, Reddish, said about his star men. In 1931, he wrote of Le Masurier – ‘Excellent leg-breaker with a very good length, never afraid to pitch them up and quite capable of going through a good side on a sticky wicket. His batting, unfortunately, shows traces of the firmly rooted stances of a golfer.’

As for Carey – ‘A good bat’ achieved the rare distinction of scoring a century in the first Jersey match; should remember, however, that every ball should not be played to leg.

Then, in 1934, after Victoria had won the opening game in Guernsey, Skipper Le Masurier, who had taken another five-for, took four more Victorian wickets as his side avenged the defeat by a 95-run margin. Incredibly, Le Masurier, who opened the bowling with his brother John, who would become a renowned British athletics coach, in the first Victoria game of that summer left the school with 48 Victoria scalps in his four years in the Eleven. Remarkable.

In 1935, Carey managed two centuries over the season and top scored with a fine 69 against Victoria. The Caesareans achieved a double in 36, but it might so easily have been 1-1 as Elizabeth fell just one short of a tie at home. The 1937 series was drawn, the side now enjoying the services of the fine left-hand opening bat Symes and the young all-rounder, Watling.

Of the final four pre-war games between the two old rivals, Elizabeth won three. Watling did not show his best form with the bat, but with the new ball he wiped out the Victorians with three six-wicket hauls. Keeping wicket to the hot deliveries of Watling and Rose, was one Roy Collas, who the coach clearly liked. ‘Excellent wicket-keeper; takes fast bowling particularly well.’

Of Rose, he simply said: ‘rather intimidating on a fiery wicket.’

COLLEGE TEAM OF THE DECADE

  1. J. M Symes
  2. R. L. S. Bichard
  3. J. A. Carey
  4. W. A. Watling
  5. J. A. Martel
  6. R. Batiste
  7. J. Le Masurier
  8. L. Siedle
  9. P. Le Masurier
  10. R. P. Collas (wkt)
  11. B. C. Rose