Monday, 6 May 2013

50 up for One Day Cricket

The 1st May 2013 was the 50th anniversary of the first one-day game played in a national competition. Now being a traditionalist I still don't consider it proper cricket, but nobody can deny the impact it has had on the greatest sport in the world.

Ted Dexter lifts the TFCCKOCFTGC!

The first game was played at Old Trafford in the competition that was then and is still referred to, by many elder statesmen such as my old man, the Gillette Cup. Many a close shave was seen in that competition with the winning hit being the mark of a man! At its birth the Gillette had a rather grander and longer title, "The first class counties knock out competition for the Gillete Cup". A real mouthful even for Tulisa, like when you spray too much white foam and it gets into your gob.

The initial game in the "TFCCKOCFTGC" (that really is a fookin mouthful) was between Lancashire and Leicestershire at Old Trafford, a  battle of the L's. An early spin on the competition (flipping L, I'm not typing that Tulisa again!) was that the two sides finishing bottom of the county championship were pitted against each other in the preliminary round. Now having had to watch some wank Champions league qualifiers at the Bank of Kroenke head office after yet another glorious charge towards the fourth place trophy on the Denver dough trouserers gravy train, I am anti prelims but I digress. Leicester were favourites for this one having warmed up the season before in a regional Midlands contest involving neighbouring Notts, Northants and Derby.

Old Trafford semi final in 71

Compared to todays favoured T20 bashes the format was a positive marathon at 65 overs per side, with a maximum 15 overs per bowler. Given that some bowlers won't get through 15 overs a day in a Test match these days, it wasn't exactly feet up for them. However, whilst not exactly Chris Gayle in the IPL the scoring was brisk with Peter Marner of Lancashire making hay. I was going to say while the sun shined, but in typical Mancunian splendour the gloomy conditions meant the game stretched to a second day. Thrashing around like Ken Barlow and Kevin Webster of a famous Lancastrian soap at a Coronation Street Christmas party, Marner struck four sixes in an innings of 121 in just over two hours. His biggest hit was off tweaker John Savage which flew from the ground into a savage garden. What a savage hit!  Marners ton led his side to a total of 304-9 which may seem low off 65 overs by today's standards but was a very decent effort. In reply the other L fell over a hundred short, despite Maurice Hellam giving em hell with a ton of his own.

Bumble, Lloyd and Engineer with the Gillette Cup

One of the main reasons for the introduction of the one day game was to bring new fans to cricket. Even the 65 over format of the "TFCCKOCFTGC" did the trick despite widespread opposition from the establishment. The desire to bring new fans in led to even shorter formats, such as the much loved by some and hated by others, the John Player Sunday league, which was then considered a not so serious thrash. 

As a lad I loved seeing one of my heroes, Roland Butcher launch bowlers like Norman Gifford into the stands at Lords in the JPL during early visits to Lords. I also remember sticking on Sunday Grandstand and watching Frank Bough when he wasn't sneaking round the back of the set to bang a tom, tantalising viewers with the prospect of a ten over thrash at Chesterfield even when it was pissing down! That was an early version of sky today saying Tiger Woods can still win the masters when ten shots down with eight holes to play, in order to stop viewers switching off. Old gits like me still chuckle at the thought of the white line chalked out marking the bowlers restricted run up in the JPL.

A fan of the restricted run up in the JPL

I'm sure Bough who liked a white line or two, approved!

Today swashbuckling, all action T/20 is possibly the worlds favourite cricketing format. Nobody can argue that it has revitalised the game and brought a whole new generation to cricket both through the turnstiles and via the lazy boy recliner. So when you're watching Chris Gayle putting all comers to the sword in the IPL, remember where it all began at Old Trafford on 1st May 1963. 

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