As summer is here we thought it was a good time to showcase items on Scottish cricket from the collections. Although not the first sport you might associate with Scotland, cricket in Scotland has a long and fascinating history. We also have more Scottish cricket items in the collections than you might expect. The collections are particularly strong on local club histories.
During June we have a display of Scottish cricket items in the display cases at the top of the main staircase in our George IV Bridge building in Edinburgh. On Wednesday 20th of July we have a free afternoon workshop at the Library when you can see and discuss Scottish cricket books from the collections and hear a bit about the history of the game in Scotland.
Amongst the items on display or featured at the event are the following
Clackmannan County Cricket Club. Official handbook. 1925. NLS Pressmark HP1.201.1138
The cover of this short history of the Club, pictured above, is reminiscent of a boy’s story paper of the period. Club cricket was played in Alloa as far back as the 1850s or 60s according to this handbook. Interestingly the Club engaged a number of professional players from the 1880s onward including some from the great cricketing county of Yorkshire. Amongst the great players for the club was the then captain T. A. Bowie who had a remarkable career that stretched to 30 years during which he scored at least eight centuries, was the top bowler for the Club and also played at international level. We have cricket club histories for all parts of Scotland in the collections including Perth County Cricket Club, St Boswells, Stoneywood, Forfarshire and Motherwell.
Reminiscences of the Grange Cricket Club Edinburgh 1832-62 with selected matches. Edinburgh, 1891. NLS pressmark K.212.a
Statistics play a bigger role in cricket than any other sport, both in terms of match statistics and player statistics. Pouring over statistics in “Wisden” the bible of the game is as great or even greater pleasure than watching the game for many fans. For those obsessed with statistics this volume is a treat as it includes statistics for 83 games played by the Club during the first sixty years of its existence. The first game in 1832 was against Brunswick another early Edinburgh club which Grange won by 40 runs. The first away game was in Glasgow on 12th July 1833 against Glasgow. Played on Glasgow Green the home side won by 5 wickets though Grange had beaten the Glasgow side in Edinburgh less than a fortnight earlier on July 1st by seven wickets.
Helpfully the Grange Cricket Club have made the book “Grange Cricket Club 175” published in 2007 to celebrate the Club’s 175th anniversary available to download from their website and you can find it here
Kevin Telfer. Peter Pan’s First XI: the extraordinary story of J. M Barrie’s Cricket Team. London, 2010.
This recent book tells the story of perhaps the most star laden celebrity sports team in history. Although he had little talent for the game J. M Barrie was completely obsessed with cricket and had his own cricket team the Allahabarries. Amongst those who turned out for the club, though not at the same time, were Arthur Conan Doyle, A.A. Milne, P.G. Wodehouse, H.G. Wells, G.K. Chesterton, A.E.W. Mason and Jerome K. Jerome. Barrie fell in love with the game when he watched games on Kirrie Hill, a windswept spot with views of the Cairngorms and Glen Clova. In his memoir “The Greenwood Hat” Barrie says “Cricket has been my joy since I first saw it played in infancy by valiant performers in my native parts”. The book includes many remarkable photographs of the team in action including Douglas Haig in full military uniform waiting to receive a ball bowled by Barrie. Barrie took his wicket. A short book “Allahakbarries C.C. 1893” was privately published by Barrie in 1893 for circulation amongst his friends. Now a very rare and valuable item you can look at a copy in our Special Collections Reading Room.
These are just three of the many books we have on Scottish cricket dating from the 19th century to the present. Others include a colourful souvenir brochure for a Scotland v Australia game played at Mannofield, Aberdeen in 1948; “Dad’s Army: How Freuchie Took Cricket by Storm” by Neil Drysdale the story of how Freuchie won the National Village Championship at Lord’s in 1985 against the odds and a delightful history of the game from 1950 “The story of cricket in Scotland” by John S. Carruthers. This last book has a lovely photograph on the cover of spectators at a game near Perth that will appeal to any cricket lover.
So next time someone says to you that cricket is not a game widely played or followed in Scotland you can point them to the Library’s collections as proof that this is not the case.