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Essex Shield

Tales from the Boundary

Lords and Commoners


It's surprising how many of the nobility have been associated with the first class game.   Here is just a selection: The Earl of Aboyne, The Earl of Gosford, Lord Dalmeny, The Earl of Dalkeith, The Earl of Darnley (also known as the Hon. Ivo Bligh of Ashes fame), Lord Dunglass, who later became Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Lord John Francis Granville Scrope Egerton Brackley and Baron Aberdare (or C.N. Bruce).

Above all these towered Lords Harris and Hawke.  Harris controlled Kent for about 50 years; his playing career lasted 40 years from 1870 and he was 60 at the time of his last game for them.   Hawke was the godfather of Yorkshire from 1880 up to his death in 1938.  It was gloriously ironic that Hawke – whose County boasted that it only used men born within its boundaries – was born in Lincolnshire!   The two men loathed each other, culminating in a violent quarrel in the Long Room at Lords, gleefully observed by Johnny Douglas, complete with cries of “Seconds out!”.

Turning to the commoners, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to distinctive or unusual names.   There is Major William Booth, not, as might be assumed, an officer in the Salvation Army, but a Yorkshire player pre - 1914.   Major was in fact his Christian name; he was a very decent all rounder who played for England, but perished in the First World War.   Or what of the unfortunately named Edward Bastard, who played for Somerset in the 1880s?   As exotic names go, who could better the splendid Leonidas De Toledo Marcondes de Montezuma (7 games for Sussex in 1898)?  His family hailed from Ecuador.

Who is the only Test cricketer whose first name begins with an X?  Step forward Xenophon Balaskas, who played a leading part in a South Africa victory over England in 1935.   Three Derbyshire players bear the surname Curgenven, which originates from Cornwall.

Finally, how about this for the longest name in first class cricket: John Elicius Benedict Bernard Placid Quirk Carrington Dwyer, an Australian who played 61 times for Sussex.  Beat that!

David Brangwyn