Cricket Diary: Smith keeps going in family way

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rise in cricket. If there is a certain way to secure the game's future it might involve encouraging, even coercing, county cricketers to have large families.

This solution emerged as large as Tom Moody's bat during the NatWest Trophy semi-finals last week. Of the 44 players in the two matches, seven have fathers who played county or Test cricket. (And, no, as it happens, Moody's father did not.)

'I really haveno idea if it's in the genes or not,' said Paul Smith, the Warwickshire all-rounder and one of the septet. 'It's such a difficult game to play that I suspect it might not be inherited. I remember there was always a bat and ball around at home and it was natural to pick them up.'

Smith's father, Ken, played for Leicestershire for two seasons in the early Fifties as a middle-order batsman and while his record was not especially distinguished he went on to play for Northumberland for eight years. He also had three sons who were all signed by Warwickshire.

'It certainly wasn't a case of being pushed into it,' said Paul, the only one still playing. 'Perhaps when you come from a cricketing background like that it's something to aspire to. Maybe that's what has happened with the other lads too. I'm sure being urged on can have an opposite effect.'

There are some 20 sons of former players on the books of first- class counties. The seven who performed in the NatWest Trophy semi-finals were: Paul Smith, Neil Smith (son of M J K), Graham Cowdrey (son of Colin), Mark Ealham (son of Alan), Dean Headley (son of Ron and grandson of George), Alec Stewart (son of Mickey), Steven Rhodes (son of Bill, who was also a wicketkeeper).

There are plenty of others around, with 11 different counties - Liam Botham, son of Ian is probably at least a couple of years away from knowing if he will be good enough - and there will certainly be plenty to come.

The son of Ken Smith said that at 30 he is still probably approaching the peak of his career despite being forced to wear a knee brace which he always seems to be adjusting when television cameras focus on him. He is also happy to be playing in the Warwickshire team at present. ('Yes, we're on a roll and we have players who all do their bit when necessary.')

Smith tries to fit his performance to the requirements and context of a particular match and cares not for statistics. One that may be of significance for the game's future, however, is that he is, at 30, already the father of two sons.

THE Derbyshire batsman Tim O'Gorman is not quite the son of a county cricketer, his dad Brian having played for Sussex and Middlesex second XIs. He is, however, the grandson of one.

Joe O'Gorman played the odd match for Surrey in the late Twenties. He was an all-rounder who once put on 119 in 65 minutes with Andy Sandham and took a wicket with his first ball in first-class cricket, one of only six players to do so at The Oval.

When Joe O'Gorman died, his obituary in Wisden said that his cricketing adventures included batting with Jack Hobbs which 'gave him as much pleasure as seeing his name in lights on Broadway'. Therein lay the reason for his few appearances. O'Gorman was one half of a vaudeville comedy duo with his brother Dave.

Tim, while extending the family's cricketing prowess, claims to have inherited none of his forebear's performing talents and has not followed Joe on to the stage. He is a qualified lawyer.

THE evocative Hobbs and Sutcliffe T-shirt eye-catchingly worn at the Headingley Test by Mike Atherton has several companions. The self-confessed cricket nut Philip James produced them after trying and failing to buy something similar himself.

Test match grounds are largely filled with spectators wearing football shirts. James wouldlike to change that. Hence, it is possible to sport a Hobbs and Sutcliffe, a Hobbs alone ('I'm obsessive about Hobbs,' he said), a Compton, a Trueman, a Hammond, a Richardson and a Lara. Peter May and Ian Botham are in the pipeline. So is Atherton himself.

'I've h ad lots of help from the counties, though I'd like to see them better displayed in their shops, and Mike Atherton's been fantastic in wearing it,' said James. 'But I've still got roomfuls at home.

'The West Indies tour next year should help but I'm beginning to wonder if the average proper cricket fan might be too much of an anorak for them.' Surely not. What is good enough for the England captain should be good enough for the rest of us.

UNFORTUNATE team selection of the week, season and, the way things are going, probably decade, belongs to Gloucestershire. As they folded up the other day to Derbyshire, it was inevitably mentioned, not for the first time this summer, that a team containing Hancock, Dawson, Cooper, Ball and Williams were nothing more than a bunch of comedians.

Twelfth Man

VIC WILSON, former captain of Championship-winning Yorkshire who was 12th man in the 1951 batting averages, said of the present county side: 'It's amazing that Yorkshire have gone so long without a title. The batsmen keep getting the blame but I think this has happened because we struggle to bowl sides out twice. I'll be going to see them at the Scarborough Festival. I expect my record score for the ground of 220 to be broken by Brian Lara.'

(Photograph omitted)

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