Wednesday, 10 August 2016

A glimpse of greater times

Old Peakfan's on holiday now and next Monday will be heading away to the scenic splendour of Berwick on Tweed for a few days break with the family and pup.

For now, I have a chance to catch up on a few things and the first is a look at a wonderful archive clip of footage from a game between Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire at Trent Bridge in 1934. Thanks to Simon for bringing it to my attention.

You can find it on the superb British Film Insititute website here

The game was played from June 2 and Derbyshire won the toss and elected to bat. The footage opens with two of the great pre-war umpires, Frank Chester and Alec Skelding, walking down the pavilion steps, followed by a Nottinghamshire side led by skipper Arthur Carr and including Harold Larwood and Bill Voce. They are followed by the Derbyshire openers, Alan Skinner (in the cap) and Albert Alderman.

Predictably, it opens with footage of the great Larwood in action, then Charlie Elliott and Denis Smith at the crease. Stan Worthington then makes an appearance and we see the left-handed Smith, a player renowned for his grace and time to play at the crease, playing Larwood with some ease around the two-minute mark. 

Later we see the Pope brothers batting, and number eleven 'Tosser' Armstrong looking less than comfortable against Bill Voce. What is fascinating is seeing the players and umpires lying down for a rest at the fall of a wicket on a hot day, not something you would see these days!

Derbyshire made 263, with Les Townsend's 46 the top score and Larwood taking 4-53.

At the seven-minute mark we see Arthur Richardson lead his men on to the field at an interval, as Larwood comes in to bat with his partner, Bill Voce (I think) - again, check out his batting gloves with the 'wraparound' thumb guard and little other protection bar the pads.

Nottinghamshire were bowled out for 203, with Thomas Armstrong taking 5-72 and Les Townsend 4-59.

The footage then shows the start of the Nottinghamshire innings, with Charlie Harris taking strike against Alf Pope, before the slow left-arm Armstrong is shown bowling in tandem (and a cap) with Les Townsend.

Between times, Derbyshire had been bowled out for 135, primarily by Voce (7-53), leaving the home side 196 to win.

Towards the end - and out of sequence - Albert Alderman is seen being treated for a blow in the chest from Larwood, before Armstrong is seen wheeling away and finally getting Harold Butler leg before wicket as Nottinghamshire were bowled out for 167 and we won by 28 runs. Armstrong took 3-76 and Townsend 7-47.

The film is a fascinating glimpse of a Derbyshire side on its way to greatness - winning the championship two years later - and of the cricket of the period.

Armstrong was a spinner of some talent, unlucky that his career coincided with that of Townsend and Tommy Mitchell. The latter's absence in this game meant he got an opportunity, one of only 58 games he played between 1929 and 1950. 

Golden stuff - and more to follow in the coming weeks!

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