On the Front Foot: Taverners raise a glass and celebrate milestone at Lord's
There were two significant anniversaries in the game yesterday. Charlie Barnett, the former Gloucestershire and England opening batsman, would have been 100. The Lord's Taverners were 60.
Barnett scored 25,389 runs in a career lasting from 1927 to 1948 and it would have been many more but for the Second World War. The aggregate is now not enough for his name to be included in 'Wisden Cricketers' Almanack' every year since little old yellow chops dispensed with the list of scorers of 25,000 first-class runs and replaced it with a top hundred in 2006. Barnett, 114th, was ahead of his time in being a dasher at the top of the innings.
His 194 against Somerset at Bath in 1934 contained 11 sixes. He might have liked playing today. The Taverners were born, fittingly, in the Tavern pub at Lord's in 1950. No praise can be too high for the charity work they have done in raising more than £50m – their aim now is for £3m a year – in helping disabled and disadvantaged children have access to sport. If you see youngsters with physical disabilities at a sporting event, the chances are they will have arrived in an adapted mini-bus provided by the Lord's Taverners.
Their president is the television personality Chris Tarrant, who was at Lord's yesterday as the organisation took over the ground for their birthday. He follows such luminaries as John Mills, Eric Morecambe and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh. It was the Duke who instigated a game of cricket in the ballroom at the Dorchester Hotel at the charity's first meeting. Were Tarrant to do likewise, the reaction would be fascinating. If there is anything dodgy about the Taverners it might be their red, green and blue maypole bat grip, one of which is used by Andrew Strauss.
You can bank on NatWest
Say what you like about banks but one of sport's most enduring sponsorships has been that of NatWest for cricket. This is their 30th year and (presumably the survival of capitalism permitting) they intend to continue. The match at Lord's yesterday was the 820th under their auspices, which must be some kind of corporate record. This has embraced their name before Trophy, Series, International and Challenge. Their first involvement was in 1981 when they took over sponsorship of what had started its life in 1963 as the Knock-Out Competition. They moved into international cricket in 2000, since when England have won 38 and lost 44 of their NatWest one-dayers. The bank started in cricket after taking over from cricket's first sponsor of all. With due respect to the bank, some of us hereabouts still refer to the oldest limited-overs knockout competition as the Gillette Cup.
Watch a Titanic 3D clash
The first cricket match to be televised in 3D will be shown in more than 1,000 pubs on Thursday. The first of the series of three between England and Bangladesh at Trent Bridge has been chosen for the singular occasion – and if it was not Trent Bridge you might think of going to the pub and seeing the action there instead. During their research, broadcasters Sky had talks with, among others, the film director James Cameron. Cameron should know what he is talking about since not only is he one of the more ardent admirers of the format but his 3D movie 'Avatar' is also the highest grossing of all time having so far clocked up $2.835bn (£1.85bn). If 3D helps cricket to do similarly at the box office, it will all have been worthwhile. And something you may not have known: whereas old-fashioned D cricket needs more than 20 cameras at a game to make it watchable, 3D needs seven.
Vodafone don't call it a day
As this is turning into sponsorship Sunday, it is worth noting that Brit, the new sponsors of the England team, may not be utterly overjoyed at the actions of the firm from which they took over. Having voluntarily withdrawn after a decade, Vodafone have now decided to sponsor the Ashes in Australia this winter, thus continuing their nameidentification with the game.
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