Articles

First Class cricket during the 1926 General Strike

In Uncategorized on May 6, 2016 by kmflett

Cricket during the 1926 General Strike

aus

Getty

The 1926 General Strike from 4-13 May 1926 took place during that year’s cricket season.

There are numbers of reports of strikers playing games of cricket from South Wales to Cambridge. Of course the core of the strike was locked out miners who provided a good deal of the fast bowling force for English cricket.

Indeed there is a recorded example of an 18 year old Derbyshire miner, Bill Copson, who had not previously played cricket, being persuaded by fellow strikers to play during the miners lock-out.

Copson was fast medium bowler who made his regular debut for Derbyshire in 1932 and went on to play for England in 1939. The war intervened but had made a final England appearance against South Africa in 1947 at the Oval.

From 1958 to 1967 he was a first class Umpire

I have so far however been unable to find any evidence of what relatives of Geoffrey Boycott were doing cricketwise in May 1926.

I’m concerned here however, briefly, to understand what happened to First Class cricket during the nine days of 1926.

It was an important question because an Australian side were in England that year and playing warm up matches before the start of the Test series.

The MCC issued a statement which recommended the continuation of country cricket matches ‘as well as circumstances permit’ and the provision of the best available elevens to play the Australian cricket team ‘out of courtesy’ to our guests..

The Lords Minute Book for 5th May 1926 records ‘recommendation by MCC committee to cricketers that they have a public duty to continue playing’

And play did continue. At Leyton 5-7th May Essex played the Australians. The first day was washed out but on day 2 the Australians scored 538-9 declared. Woodfull  scored 201 while for Essex Hipkin took 5-102.

On 8-11 May Surrey played the Australians at the Oval. Australia scored 395-9 dec with Woodfull again in the runs scoring 118. For Surrey Lockton took 4-105. In reply Surrey scored 265 (Sandham 84, Maccartney 6-63).

Papers in general were not printed in the General Strike but the Daily Mail (of course) printed a continental edition in Paris and distributed it in the UK.

Its 6th May 1926 edition reported on the front page under the heading ‘cricket and the strike’ that counties were advised to carry on. It noted that rain had prevented play at Leyton and the Oval on 5th May, celestial forces perhaps being more in sympathy with the strikers than the MCC. The match between Middlesex and Oxford University at Lords was however ‘scratched’ presumably because the Oxford students were engaging in the alternative sport of strike breaking.

What should we make of all this?

One would hardly expect the MCC in 1926 to stop cricket matches because of a General Strike, but the TUC itself was keen to encourage entertainments and sports to keep strikers occupied, most areas which had been called out being solidly so and hence requiring little picketing.

Those who wanted to extend the impact of the strike may have viewed matters differently but I have yet to find evidence on that

 

 

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