Surrey CCC have partnered with Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack to produce four limited-edition booklets which will be released consecutively from the start of the season.
The individually numbered pamphlets have been produced in quantities of just 300 and will be launched over the course of the summer, priced just £5 each, enabling Members to collect a full set throughout the season. They will be available in the Club shop at The Kia Oval as well as in the Club’s online shop.
They shine a light on some legendary players from the Club’s past, helping publicise some of the great writing about Surrey history that was previously hidden away in the pages of relatively inaccessible back editions of Wisden.
The first to see the light of day, launched for the first home match of the season, against Hampshire on Thursday April 14th, will be The Hobbs Era, from Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 1935. Hobbs, having called time on his first-class career in September 1934, was given an open invitation by Almanack editor, Sydney J. Southerton, to spell out his thoughts on how the game had changed over his 30-year first-class career – for better and for worse. He ‘gladly complied’ with the request and, intriguingly, discusses many issues that remain hot topics almost 80 years later.
The second pamphlet is entitled A Hundred Years of Surrey Cricket and was originally part of the 1946 Almanack. The Club had been formed back in 1845 – which meant plans for centenary celebrations were never going to be straightforward. In 1945, the nation was understandably distracted by the Second World War. However, not to be dissuaded, the Club decided to stage a delayed commemoration the following year. This was partly to do with the requirement to raise £100,000 to rebuild The Oval, which had been badly damaged by the seven high-explosive bombs and thousands of incendiary devices that fell on it during the war. Wisden were keen to help the Club celebrate and commissioned H.D.G. ‘Shrimp’ Leveson Gower to write this short history of the Club’s first hundred years.
The third pamphlet, From Dr Grace to Peter May, dates from the 1959 Almanack. The great Herbert Strudwick’s cricket career ran from the icons of the late Victorian ‘Golden Age’ right up to the dashing matinée idols of Surrey’s seven Championship victories from 1952–1958. A young wicket keeper at the turn of the century, Strudwick played against Grace on numerous occasions. He eventually retired in 1927, after 674 games and an extraordinary 1,495 victims behind the stumps. However, without missing a beat, he was immediately employed as the Club’s scorer, staying until 1958. He eventually retired, aged 76, having served Surrey for 56 consecutive seasons. Strudwick was invited by Wisden editor Norman Preston to write a piece about his experiences.
The last of the four celebratory pamphlets is the obituary of Jack Hobbs from the 1964 Almanack. Hobbs was the scorer of an astonishing 61,760 first-class runs and 199 centuries, 100 of which were made after his 40th birthday. He was revered across the country, and in 1953 he became the first professional cricketer to be knighted for services to the game. When he passed away, aged 81, Wisden asked Neville Cardus to pen his obituary. That is reproduced here, along with various tributes from prominent cricketing figures from the first half of the 20th century, including his Surrey team-mates Andrew Sandham, Herbert Strudwick and Percy Fender.
The Hobbs Era will be launched for the first home match of the season against Hampshire on Thursday April 14th, with A Hundred Years of Surrey Cricket, From Dr Grace to Peter May and Jack Hobbs’ Obituary following throughout the summer.
The booklets have been produced as a limited edition run of 300, so when they’re gone, they’re gone! If there are any remaining at the end of the season, they will be packaged together and sold as a set.