Full name Cecil Gerard Alexander Paris
Born August 20, 1911, Kirkee, India
Died April 4, 1998, Winchester, Hampshire (aged 86 years 227 days)
Major teams Hampshire
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm slow
|First-class span||1933 - 1948|
Cecil Paris, who died on April 4, 1998, aged 86, was Joint Patron of Hampshire CCC, the highest office in the club. He had held every other office of note: captain in 1938; cricket chairman; club chairman; and president from 1984 to 1989.
His long and loyal service to Hampshire was matched by the enormous contribution he made to cricket at national level, as first chairman of the newly formed Test and County Cricket Board in 1968, then being nominated by Prince Philip to succeed him in 1975 as president of MCC and chairman of the International Cricket Conference.
His period as head of the TCCB encompassed the admission of overseas players into the county game, the growth of sponsorship and the expansion of one-day cricket, and also saw controversy over the d'Oliveira Affair.
Jack Bailey, former Secretary of the MCC, said: "Quiet tact and diplomacy were the hallmarks of a man who never sought personal glory, merely the knowledge of a job well done. He handled skilfully the need to balance change with cricket's essential regard for tradition.
"If anyone deserved a knighthood, it was Cecil Paris. Not so much as an MBE came his way. Yet service was, for him, its own reward - and cricket never had a better servant."
His innate modesty was typified by his award of the Czech equivalent of the MC for his war duties as Liaison Officer between Montgomery's 21st Army Group and the Czechoslovakian Armoured Brigade under General Liske in Eastern Europe. It was an honour known only to a select few.
Outside of cricket, he was a third generation member and ultimately senior partner in the old-established Southampton legal firm of Paris Smith and Randall. He became a partner in 1938, the same year as he took on the Hampshire captaincy. Despite the examples set by his grandfather, Alexander, and his uncle Leonard, he professed no great aspirations to enter the legal profession. He confessed a year before his death that he "wouldn't have minded being a farmer".
While serving his articles it was not unknown for games of cricket to be played with a walking stick and a paper ball in the articled clerks' room, and he was once given an ultimatum: "Career or cricket, one or the other but not both." In the event, he not only managed to combine both, but succeeded in being widely respected in both spheres of activity.
Cecil Gerard Alexander Paris was born on August 20, 1911, at Kirkee, India, where his father, Alexander Lloyd Paris, a career soldier who attained the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, was based with the Royal Engineers.
He was captain of the XI at King's School, Canterbury, in 1929 and 1930. In 1928 he was second in both the batting and bowling averages, scoring 290 runs at 29 and, notably, taking 31 wickets at 18.12, and his bowling was again to the fore in 1929 when he took 28 wickets at 21.32, while scoring 241 runs at 20.09. In 1930 he enjoyed an outstanding season with the bat, scoring 501 runs at 38.53, and adding 21 wickets at 17.95. Wisden said of him in 1930 that he "seldom failed to give the side a good start". A genuine all-round sportsman, he was also to represent Hampshire at rugby and squash.
He played his first match for Hampshire in 1933, against Worcestershire at Bournemouth in August. His maiden century and top score of 134* came on the same ground in 1935, against Northants, out of a total of 458 for 3 dec. Wisden records: "Hitting all round the wicket with marked skill and accuracy of timing, he obtained a 6 and sixteen 4s and did not offer a chance." He shared a second wicket partnership of 145 with McCorkell (132). Unusually, Mead featured in the innings victory only under "did not bat".
In the last match of that 1935 season, when Hampshire were defeated by Yorkshire by an innings at Portsmouth, Paris (26) and Mead (29*) formed the only substantial partnership in a first innings total of 99, and then Paris stood alone in the follow-on with 51 out of 94.
Cecil Paris was appointed vice-captain in 1936, but for once the county's appointed captain, Dick Moore, played in every match. They celebrated their appointments by sharing a second wicket partnership of 183 in the first match of the season against Derbyshire at Southampton, Moore hitting exactly 100 and Paris 101.
In 1937, Paris played only 14 games, totalling 496 with a top score of 75. Moore, whose 316 against Warwickshire at Bournemouth that year is the county's highest, proved an enterprising captain, but Wisden complained that "at times his play bore the stamp of recklessness", and Hampshire ended in 14th place in the Championship.
Moore stepped down from the captaincy for 1938 - although he was to top the batting averages in his rare appearances - and Cecil Paris took charge, achieving his highest aggregate of 1,040 runs in Championship matches and showing great consistency as his top score was only 77. The official county history records: "Paris captained the side with immense concentration and effort." Despite his efforts, an inconsistent side found itself in the familiar 14th position.
In 1939 another local solicitor, GR Taylor, took over the captaincy from Cecil Paris, who played in only the first two matches of the season.
After his distinguished war service, Cecil Paris turned out in just two more games for Hampshire early in the 1948 season.
Thereafter it was off the field that his most lasting contributions were made to the game of cricket both at home and overseas.
Cecil Paris finally retired from Paris Smith & Randall in 1982. Two years later, aged 73, he was elected President of Hampshire CCC. It was at this time that, with Sir Donald Acheson, he worked to raise £4million to provide the Wessex region with a body scanner. After seven years as Hampshire President, Cecil Paris became Joint Patron with Lord Denning.
In a letter to Cecil Paris in 1985, the former Master of the Rolls had recalled: "When I was starting at the Bar, I was often briefed by your firm Paris Smith & Randall. I cannot say they actually gave me my first brief, only that it was one of the first."
The Cecil Paris Memorial Fund has been established under the auspices of the Hampshire County Cricket Youth Trust. In line with his family's wishes, the interest received annually will be used to help fund the club's community and ethnic coaching programme.
Members who wish to make a contribution in memory of Cecil Paris are asked to contact the Chief Executive at the County Ground.
For Hampshire (1933-48): Batting: M 98, I 169, NO 9, R 3660, HS 134*, AV 22.87, 100x2, 50x18, CT 74; Bowling: R 216, W 4, AV 54.00, BEST 1-10. Career: Batting: M 100, I 172, NO 9, R 3730, HS 134*, AV 22.80, 100x2; Bowling: R 216, W 4, AV 54.00, best 1-10.
What makes this innocuous-seeming bowler so difficult to handle?
What makes this innocuous-seeming bowler so difficult to handle?