Cricket diary: Evans Gate and other celestial homesteads

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The Independent Online
STEP forward Milton Keynes, a true shrine to cricketers. It may be a new-fangled sort of settlement with concrete cows and an Open University, it may have yet to produce a Test cricketer but it knows how to honour the game. Not content with naming a street here or an avenue there after a flannelled fool or two it has an entire grid-square full of them.

The Diary's search for cricketing place names began after the establishment in the London village of Thames Ditton of Heathfield Place. This enclave, comprising four houses with cricket connections, was so called because Heathfield Stephenson had lived in the village. He was one of the most outstanding of all Victorian cricketers and the first man to lead an England team to Australia.

Milton Keynes went somewhat further. Martin Petchey wrote to the Diary saying the whole of the grid-square (the town is designed around grid- squares) is dedicated to the game and its players.

The square is centred on a cricket pitch and the pub is called The Cricketers. Then there are the roads which include: Appleyard, Barnes, Barrington, Blackham, Brearley, Cartwright, Dexter, Douglas, Edrich, Laker, Larwood, MacLaren, Milburn, Statham, Trueman, Tyson, Ulyett, Underwood, Wardle. Not to mention Arlott and Johnston, who represent cricket broadcasting.

That seems to cover every era from the Golden Age to the Seventies. Of course, not everyone was selected on grounds of their runs or wickets. Few probably could bring immediately to mind the attainments of Canon William Rashleigh, Edward Wynyard or the splendid Valentine Adolphus Titchmarsh, all of whom have given their surnames to Courts.

Valentine played only eight first-class games, became an umpire who stood in three Tests and died of locomotor atoxy. The name alone deserves a place name - though it might have been another Titchmarsh, Charles to be precise. Nobody is sure. "Several of them seem to have been picked for euphony rather than achievement," said Petchey. The exit from the grid-square to the city centre is called Evans Gate. Which leaves only Oldbrook Square itself. "It was Holbrook before Oldbrook and was a field," said a spokeswoman at the city library. There never was, unfortunately, a cricketer by either name.

All that remains now is to find a cricketer recalled in a place name who played before Heathfield Stephenson.

IN scoring 146 in the women's First Test last week Jan Brittin broke several records. She became the highest scorer in the history of women's Tests, breaking the long-standing record of Rachel Heyhoe-Flint, the first England batsman to score a hundred at Guildford, the second to score four hundreds and the fourth to make two centuries against Australia.

Brittin made her first hundred against Australia on the 1984-85 tour and the most recent of her centuries was against India at Worcester in 1986. Thus, 12 years (though only 19 innings) separate her third and fourth Test hundreds. Surely, there can never have been a bigger span in Test matches - of whatever gender - between three-figure innings.

IT is difficult to disagree with the declaration by the group cum newsletter called Socialist Cricketer that to survive "English cricket needs nothing less than a revolution." Lord MacLaurin himself might agree. Among the six manifesto aims of the organisation are "a ban on anyone from a public school representing England". Looking at the team in the Fifth Test and the selectors who picked it this wish seems to have been fulfilled. And we are all in the land of milk and honey are we not?

WALKING, or the perceived lack of it, has been the subject of an uncommon amount of comment lately. According to Chris Adams, the captain of Sussex, the only player who invariably walks is Andy Moles of Warwickshire. Or, as David Millns, the Leicestershire fast bowler, has it, most players seem to walk. Then again, as Steve Marsh, the Kent captain puts it, almost nobody walks. David Gower suggested that it would be easier to walk on 150 if you liked the bowler than on nought and you didn't. On walking everybody has twopenn'orth but nobody knows what is going on out there.

BOOK MARK

"WHAT seems to count most in the making and unmaking of great international sides is the place that cricket occupies in the national culture. The most significant difference between cricket in England and cricket in its major rivals is that the game's social base in England is proportionately smaller and less representative to the nation as a whole. Although the game of cricket is of huge symbolic importance in England (hence the media's fixation with the Test side) in the active life of the people it is relatively a minor fixation."

Extracted from the newly added chapter in the paperback version of the contentious, but still very welcome, Anyone But England by Mike Marqusee, who is an American.

Silly Point

WHEN the Sri Lankans came to England to play their first Test here in 1984 they cannot have known what they were starting. Indeed, someof the England side must wonder where they went wrong. Chris Tavare and Richard Ellison became schoolteachers, Allan Lamb, Pat Pocock and Paul Downton (who is, at least, on the Middlesex committee) drifted out of the game. But more than half the side had a real future. The connection between (in batting order) Graeme Fowler, Chris Broad, David Gower (right), Ian Botham, Paul Allott and Jonathan Agnew is that they all became, with varying degrees of distinction, cricket broadcasters. Did any England team ever produce a higher preponderance?

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