The Cricket Society
The Cricket Society, which prides itself on no further adjectival requirement than the de-finite article, is the largest and most active body of its kind in the cricketing world. With a membership exceeding 2,000 in Britain and overseas, the Society exists to share and extend among its members the wide variety of experiences that cricket offers. There is no qualification for membership, beyond an enthusiasm for the game, either on paper, in debate or at a cricket ground.
The overwhelming majority of its members have been distinctly poor performers with bat or ball (and often positively non-performers) but have been none the less welcome for that. They make good spectators and good companions. The declared object of the Society is "to support the game at all levels wherever it is played, regardless of race, colour or creed".
Apart from the old Cricketana Society, which was founded in late 1929 and had a brief prosperity in the early 1930s, there was no organization (outside cricket clubs them-selves) for enthusiasts to indulge their cricketing fancies until after the Second World War. Then, at a now historic meeting at Great Scotland Yard, London, on 17 November 1945, was founded The Society of Cricket Statisticians (the original name of The Cricket Society). The founder - uniquely distinguished in the entire cricket society movement - was Antony Weigall (1902-1977), a Kent man who lived in Surrey, an accountant of infinite charm and as thoroughly devoted to the game of cricket in his own way as was his distant cousin, Gerry, in his. Until ill-health intervened in his later years, Tony Weigall was a constant attender at Society functions and remained an inspiration to all. Treasurer of the Society until 1952, he was then appropriately created the 1st honorary life member.
The Cricket Society assumed its new name on 6 November 1948, when it became clear that statistics were by no means the sole interest of its members. The new title attracted fresh members, those interested in the literature of the game, in attending meetings and dinners with fellow members - and in playing the game, for whom a then modest Society fixture-list was inaugurated for the following summer. The Society XI, like The Cricket Society itself, has since gone from strength to strength, and now plays about 40 matches each summer and tours abroad. Among the several captains since the first season in 1949, the longest-serving deserve mention - C. S. (`Con') Davies, Geoffrey Nicholson, C. C. W. Box-Grainger and J. M. Kershaw. The 1st overseas tour was to Paris in June 1954, when 2 one-day matches (both drawn) were played against the Standard Athletic Club; and altogether to the end of 1979 there have been 18 playing tours (as well as occasional social tours) embracing Paris, Belgium, Holland, Corfu, Australia, Hong Kong, Barbados, the Channel Islands and Philadelphia.
The regular monthly meetings, however, have formed perhaps the most attractive feature for Society members in the London area. The Cricket Society has always been based in London, and the principal meeting venues have been successively `The White Swan', off Fleet Street, the Shaftesbury Hotel, the old Tavern at Lord's, the Berners Hotel, the National Liberal Club and the Royal Overseas League, off Piccadilly. Some 10 or 1 t meetings are held each year, and the speakers have ranged over the entire spectrum of cricketing activity - Test match captains, county secretaries, coaches, groundsmen, collectors, journalists, curators, publicists, umpires, scorers, committee-men, authors, lady cricketers, and many more.
These meetings, where freedom of speech is encouraged in the absence of the press, are notably well attended (especially in winter) and are sometimes accompanied by film shows.
The stature of the Society has been much enhanced by its publications and programme of research. An early object was a bibliography of cricket, which, after many years of Trojan effort, not least by G. K. Whitelock, was brought to magnificent fruition in 1977 by E. W. Padwick. The Society's journal, a twice-yearly vehicle for much original re-search, began under its founder-editor, Irving Rosenwater, in 1961, and has thrived subsequently with a world-wide reputation under the editorships of Cmdr H. Emmet and J. D. Coldham. Statistics continue to fascinate many members, who find outlets in both the journal and internal News Bulletin. The Society administers many awards, among them the Most Promising Young Cricketer of the Year, the Wetherell Awards to leading allrounders, and the annual Silver Jubilee Literary Award, endowed in 1970 by John McG. Edwards of Beaumaris, Victoria.
In Australia alone there are seven active branches. The structure is healthy and happy, the officers de-voted. The past serves as a sure foundation for a prosperous future.
Adapted from Barclays World of Cricket (Collins 1980)