The game's sons also rise - but often not quite so far

Cricket Diary

Imraan Mohammed went out at the fall of Gloucestershire's first wicket at Cheltenham on Thursday and scored 24. It was a fairly modest opening to his career account, so of much more fascination was his family. Imraan is the 23-year-old son of Sadiq Mohammed, the former opening batsman for Glorious Glos and Pakistan.

Imraan Mohammed went out at the fall of Gloucestershire's first wicket at Cheltenham on Thursday and scored 24. It was a fairly modest opening to his career account, so of much more fascination was his family. Imraan is the 23-year-old son of Sadiq Mohammed, the former opening batsman for Glorious Glos and Pakistan.

He is also the nephew of Hanif, Mushtaq, Raess and Wazir, so he should know which end is the handle. Imraan is the latest example of a trait which has always been with us and which won't disappear. Cricketers breed cricketers.

There are in the English game this season some 15 players whose fathers played the first-class game, 10 at Test level. There are also three whose grandfathers played big cricket, all of them in Tests.

Of the sons/grandsons, five have played in internationals, which may or may not show that the strain weakens. Chris Tremlett, who took a wicket with his first ball for Hampshire last week, has joined Dean Headley and Ben Hutton in families with three consecutive generations of first-classcricketers.

The Headleys are the only ones so far in which all three have played in Tests. Dean (England) followed father, Ron, and legendary grandfather, George (both West Indies). Hutton, of course, is grandson of Len and son of Richard.

The list of father-son cricketers is, dads first: Christopher (Cambridge U) and James Pyemont (Cambridge U and Derbyshire); Jeff and Simon Jones (both Glamorgan); Sadiq and Imraan Mohammed (both Glos); Tony and Matthew Windows (both Glos); Alan and Mark Ealham (both Kent); David and Graham Lloyd (Lancashire); Barry and Nathan Wood (Lancs); Alan and Mark and Gary Butcher (all Surrey); Gordon (Hampshire) and Carl Greenidge (Surrey); David (Warwickshire) and Jason Ratcliffe (Surrey); Mickey and Alec Stewart (both Surrey); Mike and Neil Smith (both Warwickshire); Arnie and Ryan Sidebottom (both Yorkshire). You would just about fancy the dads.

In addition there are grandfathers-grandsons: Jack and Matthew Walker (Kent) and, most evocatively perhaps, Paul (Gloucestershire, Bengal, Europeans) and Charles van der Gucht (Hampshire).

But Shaun Udal of Hampshire perhaps has the longest lineage of all. He is the grandson of Geoffrey Udal, who played one match for Middlesex and two for Leicestershire between 1932 and 1946, and the great-great-grandson of John Udal, who played nine matches for MCC in the 1870s and later promoted cricket overseas as attorney general in Fiji and chief justice in the Leewards Islands. Welcome to the club, Imraan.

Talking of the younger Tremlett, his feat in taking a wicket with his first ball in first-class cricket will assure him of a permanent place in the annals. He became the 38th man to perform the feat in England. The first was Henry Stubberfield in 1857. The best was probably Colin Blythe, who took 2,502 more wickets after his first-ball success in 1899. The most memorable was perhaps that of Chris Lethbridge, who with his first ball, for Warwickshire, in 1981, had Geoff Boycott caught at secondslip. The oddest was probably either that of John Wright, who after five years in the game, had Faoud Bacchus of West Indies caught with his first ball. Or Frank Brailsford, also ofDerbyshire. He played only three matches, bowled only 12 balls but with the first of them dismissed Ted Dexter.

Another first-class ground bit the dust last week. First-class cricket will no longer be played at the United Services Ground, Portsmouth.

Hampshire will move to new surroundings from next summer so they will have no room for US or Northlands Road, Southampton. They left Dean Park, Bournemouth a few years ago. To lose three first-class grounds bespeaks more than carelessness.

Portsmouth's finest cricketing hours were probably in 1920, when Percy Holmes and Herbert Sutcliffe put on 347 for Yorkshire's first wicket, and in 1927, when Phil Mead and George Brown put on 344 for Hampshire's third wicket against Yorkshire. It was also in 1927 that Alex Kennedy, against Warwickshire, took7 for 8 in 10 overs. No longer.

BOOK MARK

MACO (Parrs Wood Press £9.99) is perhaps not the definitive biography of the great, so hugely lamented, Malcolm Marshall. But it is a faithful chronicle of the fast bowler's deeds by Pat Symes, who saw him more than most other reporters. It describes his last days and his unfair early death, it regales us with Marshall's career, simply using Symes' earlier ghosted effort. It reminds us that Marshall was once tempted to go on a rebel West Indian tour of South Africa. Crucially, he turned it down "after a great deal of lonely soul-searching".

On Thursday there is a further chance to remember Maco when the Malcolm Marshall XI play the International PCA Bunbury XI at the HAC ground in City Road, London. It is a measure of the man that the teams will include some of the game's greatest modern players, some as great as he was.

Men in the middle

Since Martin Bicknell and his 16 wickets are featured elsewhere it will take two men to fill his size 12s - Michael Bevan (left) and Richard Montgomerie. They shared stands of 292 and 266 against Notts at Hove, an aggregate of 558, and failed by five to become the first pair for 101 years to score hundreds in each innings for the same county. The brothers Reginald and Wilfrid (in his only season) Foster did it for Worcestershire in 1899, as did Greg and Ian Chappell for Australia in 1974. Must have been the lack of a sibling connection which persuaded Montgomerie to go for a second-innings 95.

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