Paul Edwards celebrates 90 years of the Lancashire Schools Cricket Association
This tale is being written in the Aigburth press tent but it refers just as validly to cricket in Leigh or Littleborough, Clitheroe or Carnforth. It is also being written on May 23rd 2012 but it has strong links with innumerable summer afternoons since 1922, the year in which Ernest Shackleton died and Mussolini came to power. The Lancashire Schools Cricket Association is ninety years old and we should all join in the celebrations.
On Monday I sat in contented isolation in the Old Trafford press box and watched an hour or so of the 50-over match between Lancashire and Yorkshire's Under 15 teams. The game had been arranged to mark the LSCA's birthday on Tuesday and there could have been no better way to blow the candles out on the cake.
Presiding with gentle geniality over the day was Greenmount's John Heaton, the current secretary of the LSCA and one of only three men to occupy the post in the organisation's history. Heaton has put together a database of the 841 players who have represented a Lancashire Schools team since he took office in 1984. It includes eight cricketers - Michael Atherton, Glen Chapple, John Crawley, Andrew Flintoff, Warren Hegg, Ronnie Irani, Graham Lloyd and Chris Schofield - who represented England in some form of the game. Atherton and Flintoff, of course, went on to captain England.
To that group can be added a further 15 ex-Lancashire Schools players who have played for England since 1945. That august list includes Graeme Fowler, Tommy Greenhough, Frank Hayes, Jack Ikin, Geoff Pullar and Roy Tattersall, not to mention a couple who slipped through the Old Trafford nets, Derek Shackleton and Frank Tyson.
Given the part played by the LSCA in the county's history it is not surprising that Heaton has written a book about the last ninety years. Who'd Have Thowt - 90 Not Out – the History of the Lancashire Schools Cricket Association was launched on Monday. The 220-page volume, including 32 pages of photos, costs £12.50 with a further £2.50 for postage and packing. It can be ordered via the LCB website at www.lancashirecricket.co.uk.
LCB Director Andy Hayhurst, himself an LSCA graduate, said: "John's book is a fascinating documentary record of both the Association itself and the person who has been part of its history since 1964. There have been many special moments in the author’s life which have not only had massive implications for him personally but also for the fortunes of the Association. I have been privileged to have been given the chance to read this book and would wholeheartedly recommend it.”
And even the weather seemed inclined to honour the occasion on Monday. Summer arrived at Old Trafford as I watched Farnworth Social Circle's Hasib Hameed resist the Yorkshire attack, his batting filled with the quietness which characterises high-class batsmanship. No one can know whether Hameed will make it in professional cricket. What we can assert is that his chances have been substantially increased by the work of his coaches and of the LSCA, an organisation to which we should all raise a glass this suddenly splendid spring.
Photo of Glen Chapple (c) Simon Pendrigh
Article (c) Lancashire CCC Ltd