KEEPING LORD'S WORLD CLASS
Founded in 1787, Marylebone Cricket Club is the most active and famous cricket club in the world and owner of Lord's Cricket Ground - the Home of Cricket.
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Last weekend's YB40 final may have signalled the end of the cricket season on main ground at Lord's but there's still plenty of cricket being played on the Nursery Ground as the Cross Arrows Cricket Club season is now in full swing.
The club was originally for MCC staff and was established to give those who worked at Lord's a chance to play cricket as they were too busy during the regular season to have time.
With the 2013 season coming to a close I started having a look through the archive at MCC to find out more about the Cross Arrows, and indeed, what rich history it has had.
In the beginning
Prior to 1880, members of MCC staff played away matches against other local cricket clubs, calling themselves the 'St. John’s Wood Ramblers Cricket Club'.
When they discovered another cricket club had the same name, they needed to call themselves something different.
The day before they played against Northwood Cricket Club, one of the staff members asked where Northwood was and received a reply of; "It’s cross ‘arrow way’", meaning that it was beyond the District of Harrow.
Jimmy Fennell, Assistant Tennis Marker at Lord’s, replied: "That’s it, let’s call the club the Cross Arrows" and thus the name stuck.
Membership of the club was initially only for MCC employees but nowadays anyone who has an association with Lord’s (male and female, including Members) can join.
I would join but for two reasons, I can neither bat or bowl!
Cross Arrows play 50-over friendly matches, some against regular opponents such as Stage, Gentlemen of Worcestershire, Adastrians, Stock Exchange, Butterflies and, unsurprisingly, MCC. The match with MCC is traditionally Cross Arrows’ biggest fixture and played to a high standard.
Other fixtures are played against Clubs around the country celebrating anniversaries since their formation who have applied to the Cross Arrows to play at Lord's.
Our archive holds Cross Arrows minute books and scorebooks, and while cataloguing these scorebooks I found some interesting facts that will live long in the annals of the club’s history.
Five wickets in five balls
The most striking bowling statistic can be found in Cross Arrows' fixture with Young Amateurs of Middlesex in 1963.
R C S Titchener-Barratt took five wickets in five consecutive balls.
Needless to say, they won the match, and Titchener-Barratt, or ‘Titch’ as he was known, was presented with the ball at the annual Cross Arrows dinner for his achievements.
A number of famous cricketers have turned out for Cross Arrows in the past. Gubby Allen, Denis Compton, Bill Edrich, Jim Laker, Fred Titmus, Mike Brearley, and even Sir Garfield Sobers have all represented the club.
But it's a club that has opened its arms to all, not just those you would normally associate with cricket. One of the most famous faces to play for Cross Arrows has to be the former England footballer Gary Lineker.
Lineker, who on his application form described himself as a "batsman and occasional wicketkeeper", played for Cross Arrows in 1990. He went out to bat at three for the club less than 24 hours after scoring the winner in an international friendly between England and Hungary at Wembley.
Two years later Lineker struck an unbeaten 103 playing for the club against the Stock Exchange, although it wasn’t enough to help Cross Arrows avoid defeat.
A chance meeting
Whilst researching this blog I had the pleasure of meeting another former footballer named Lloyd Scott, who popped into the MCC Library during a rain break in a Cross Arrows match to see whether we had any copies of scorebooks for previous matches he played in.
A scorebook from 1981/82 revealed that he had played alongside cricket broadcaster Mark Nicholas against Leamington Spa and scored 19 batting at three. Nicholas, on the other hand, was just two runs shy of a century as he scored 98 not out.
Cross Arrows currently has 350 members and the responsibility for selecting teams rests with MCC Out-Match Administrator James Overy.
Anyone wishing to join needs to be proposed and seconded by a current member, and should get in touch with James Overy via email or call 0207 616 8607.
The club's fixtures are taking place on the Nursery Ground in late September and October.
What is in the MCC Archive?
Work on cataloguing the MCC Archive, held next to the Ticket Office at Lord’s, commenced in March 2012 as part of a wider Documentation Project.
So far over 45% of the material held in the archive has been catalogued.
This has included minute books, scorecards, plans of the ground and surrounding areas, personal papers of past Secretaries of MCC, deeds relating to the ground and surrounding properties, touring files, audio interviews with famous cricketers and personalities past and present, cash books and scrapbooks belonging to famous figures within MCC such as Gubby Allen and Sir Pelham Warner.
Around 1,400 of over 2,250 cataloguing entries of archival material are currently available to view online at Lords.org, through the online catalogue, which also contains details of our Museum and Library collections.
As the cataloguing has progressed we have been able to open our collection up to Members and researchers, and as a consequence we have now had more visitors than ever before.