Our 150 Years of Lancashire Cricket book has been completed, and Paul Edwards reflects on a busy time for himself and his colleagues.
My diary assures me that it was on the morning of March 11 that Malcolm Lorimer, Graham Hardcastle, Andrew Searle and I met in the Old Trafford Lodge to discuss the possibility of collaborating in the production of a book to mark Lancashire’s sesquicentennial anniversary.
Ever charitable, Malcolm supplied the danish pastries; equally thoughtful, the club’s archivist suggested that Graham, Andy and I roughly divide the club’s 150 years between the three of us and that he would contribute 150 short profiles as well as searching for photographs and other illustrative material. Lancashire's scorer Alan West proof-read the whole book with his exemplary attention to detail. All being well, the result of our work will be published on January 12th, the exact anniversary of the club’s founding. We hope you like it.
Critics may argue that the book lacks the unifying historical interpretation which would have been provided had only one author been commissioned. I think we all hope that what we have provided instead are three, perhaps contrasting, perspectives on the county’s story; there are also three different writing styles. Those searching for a single view can consult the often excellent histories written by Archie Ledbrooke, John Kay, Eric Midwinter, Peter Wynne-Thomas and Brian Bearshaw. We have not attempted to replace those works; we hope we’ve added something of our own to the story.
The division of the 150 years into three roughly equal periods was not prompted merely by a liking for equal distribution of labour. The three sections cover important eras in Lancashire’s history.
Andrew, the biographer of S.F. Barnes, charts the story from the foundation of the club to the outbreak of the First World War. I cover the period from 1915 to 1962, during which the deference of the pre-Second World War professionals was gradually replaced by a feistier, more independent spirit, one which reflected the rapid social changes taking place in Britain. However, the format of the game changed virtually not at all. None of my 40 pieces about Lancashire made reference to anything but Test and County Championship cricket.
Graham, on the other hand, was faced with the tricky task of covering Lancashire’s performances in four limited-overs competitions, the 65 or 60-over trailblazer, the 55-over B&H Cup, the 40-over Sunday League and latterly, the t20 business. All this on top of his need to assess the Red Rose’s success - or lack of it – in first-class cricket.
Every year is dealt with separately, although we all hope that a narrative emerges. Important years receive a double-page or around 1100 words plus photographs; the less significant are covered in no more than about 650 words. I suspect my co-authors will share my view that it was frequently agonising having to leave out interesting stories. It would have been possible to have doubled the book’s length of just over 200 pages but, speaking purely for myself here, writing the book was tough enough already.
However, there is no need for the more interesting tales we found to be left in our notebooks. I hope to write about some cricketers, their matches and the social environment in which they were played on this website. In the meantime, let me reiterate our wish that you enjoy the book. Let us know if you do – or, I suppose, if you don’t. And finally, I hope you have a peaceful Christmas and a fulfilling New Year.
Click here to order your copy of 150 Years of Lancashire Cricket.
We will be holding a signing session involving present and former players in the Pavilion at Emirates Old Trafford on Sunday 12th January at 1pm.
At the same time there will also be a Fans Forum with Mike Watkinson, Peter Moores and two current players between 1pm-2pm.