What you've missed

South Africa Cricket Exhibition
MCC museum, first floor level, March 2017 - February 2018

South African cricket has so often been affected by off-field troubles, such as the well-known D’Oliveira affair of 1968 and the long years of isolation that ended only with the fall of the National Party government and its apartheid policies.

South Africa Exhibition
Objects featured in the South Africa Exhibition

But while racial politics have never been far below the surface in the country’s sporting history, this exhibition reflected how much more there is to explore, from the early cricket played by British soldiers stationed in the Cape following the Napoleonic Wars to the re-emergence of South Africa as a major force in international cricket in the 1990s and beyond.

Artefacts on display included several from the family of South African Test cricketer Russell Endean, an outstanding all-round sportsman who set the mould for outstanding fielding, later followed by his compatriots Colin Bland and Jonty Rhodes.

Prominent among these were the scrapbooks he kept during his tour of Australia with the South African team in 1952–53 and a stump which was split during the final Test of that tour in Melbourne.

Also featured were several items relating to Geoff Griffin’s remarkable, sole Test match at Lord’s, in which he became the first bowler to take a Test hat-trick at the ground, while also being no-balled so often due to his unusual action that he never played Test cricket again.

‘Illustrating Cricket 1950 – 1965’ 
MCC Museum, ground floor, October 2015 – March 2016

The exhibition explored 24 original colour illustrations from Ladybird’s vintage books, ‘The Story of Cricket’, published in 1964, as well as The Boys’ Book of Cricket (1949-1954) and The MCC Book for the Young Cricketer (1950-1953).

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These books, filled with images of an Arcadian landscape in which fresh-faced boys played their cricket as though childhood would never end, are highly stylised, and quintessentially British.

The Story of Cricket romanticised the English cricket season where there is no mention of it ever raining, just of ‘fine summer day[s]’ and ‘women and girls wear[ing] pretty summer dresses’.

This exhibition was made possible by the generous loan of ‘The Story of Cricket’ (1964) artwork from Ladybird Ventures. The exhibition coincided with Ladybird’s century of publishing educational books for children (1915 – 2015).

Like the original book, the exhibition was aimed to engage a new generation of cricket lovers and inspire communities to engage in cricket. ‘HowZart’ - a Community Arts Educational Programme ran parallel to the exhibition.

Curated by Charlotte Goodhew with thanks to Ladybird Ventures and MCC librarian Neil Robinson.