Cricket: Principles of Arlott honoured

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The Independent Online
IT WAS appropriate that the eve of a Lord's Test match should be chosen as the day to launch the John Arlott Memorial Trust. It has to do with cricket, near to Arlott's heart, but more to do with looking after the rural poor (or under-privileged, in the modern term), which was even closer to his sensitivities.

Arlott is remembered as the incomparable voice of cricket, the man who through radio lit imaginations all around the world with his commentaries and observations. As Brian Johnston, one of his colleagues on Test Match Special and a patron of the Trust, said yesterday: 'When you heard Arlo's voice, that Hampshire burr, you could smell the oil on the bat.'

Arlott was an authority on wine and a poet but he was also a radical, a man who deeply sympathised with the plight of the agricultural labourer, the farm worker whose livelihood and home, a tied cottage, was dependent on the whim of the master. His favourite author was Thomas Hardy.

The idea of remembering Arlott by creating a fund to provide affordable village housing, and recreational areas, in some of England's 8,000 villages came to Moira Constable, chief executive of the Rural Housing Trust, when listening to a radio commentary from Australia while driving home in the early hours. Now the RHT is joining the National Playing Fields Association in this Memorial appeal.

Seeboard presented the first pounds 5,000, towards a target of pounds 5m in five years to set up the organisation; John Paul Getty has given pounds 10,000. 'The TCCB and MCC are showing interest and have been most co-operative,' the press officer, Janet Hart, said.

Johnston believes that a collection box, for odd coins, on each of England's 4,000 village cricket grounds would give all cricket lovers the chance to feed the game's grass- roots by enabling young people to continue living where they were born.