Monday, 6 May 2013

Playing Japan at cricket

They say that international cricket is no place for the forty-something player, but then Sachin's taking no notice of that. Forty is the new thirty, anyway. So what about the semi-international game?

Having been ignored by the England selectors for my entire career despite repeatedly stressing my availability, I've played for the last season for the Authors XI, a team that once featured Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle and PG Wodehouse, but that fell into inactivity until its revival in 2012 by the captain, Charlie Campbell and novelist Nicholas Hogg. results are best described as patchy, so the news that Hogg had somehow arranged a fixture against Japan, the 37th ranked team in the ICC international list, had been met be equal amounts of incredulity, excitement and fear.

The venue was Chiswick House, the match the first that Japan would play on a tour to mark the 150th anniversary of cricket in their country. While the Authors arrived in Chiswick via the usual combination of scrounged lifts, delayed trains and reluctant WAGs, Japan came on a coach. They looked chillingly young and they immediately embarked on proper fielding drills with those flexible plastic stumps and tiny traffic cones, apparently oblivious to the lumps and bumps of the early season outfield.

Japan Cricket's 150th anniversary only came to light last summer. Until then, they'd thought it was next year, but a historian had chanced upon a line in the Wisden obituary of Admiral Sir Harry Rawson that referred to him taking part in 'the first game of cricket ever played in Japan', between The Royal Navy and a team of civilians in Yokohama in June of 1863.

A trail that led to the Harrow school archive and the British Library, and then the MCC Library at Lord's produced sepia images of both teams and papers that told the story of the game, surely the only match in the history of cricket in which both sides were armed.

This is the first part of a post for Cricinfo's new blogger's section the Cordon. You can read the rest of it here.


Anonymous said...

Hello OB,

I have been a long-time albeit silent admirer and so feel justified in making this anachronistic, inevitable complaint-masquerading-as-request. Please take care to not dilute the old-world charm of your blog by linking it (in both senses) to Cricinfo. Which is to say nothing against this rather funny and enlightening post, which was completely worthy of its presence here. Yet, while Cricinfo might well do for Mr. Hotten, it doesn't seem to become the OB.

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