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THERE was a large and representative gathering at the annual meeting of county secretaries held on Tuesday, December 8, in the Members' Dining Room at Lord's Cricket Ground, for the purpose of arranging the fixtures for next season. Additional importance was perhaps given to the meeting owing to the collapse of the County Cricket Council and to the prospect of the subject of the visits of Australian cricketers to this country coming under consideration. Mr. Henry Perkins (secretary of the M. C. C.), as usual, occupied the chair.
The following gentlemen were present: Messrs. C. W. Alcock, and K. J. Key (Surrey); S. H. Swire, J. MacLaren, and E. W. Rowley (Lancashire); Lord Hawke and J. B. Wostinholm (Yorkshire); Hon. Ivo Bligh and F. Marchant (Kent); E. M. Grace (Gloucestershire); I. E. Walker and A. J. Webbe (Middlesex); W. H. C. Oates and E. Browne (Notts); H. T. Hewett, H. Murray-Anderson, and T. Spencer (Somerset); W. Newham and G. Goldsmith (Sussex); W. B. Delacombe (Derbyshire); R. H. Mallett (Durham); W. Ansell and G. H. Cartland (Warwickshire); T. Burdett (Leicestershire); C. D. Buxton and O. R. Borrodaile (Essex); T. C. Slaney (Staffordshire); H. Thornber (Cheshire); J. Thompson (Northumberland); Rusell Bencroft (Hampshire); W. E. Hasell and E. G. Buxton (Norfolk); T. H. Vialls (Northamptonshire); F. Phillips (Monmouthshire); N. L. Yorath (Glamorganshire); H. M. Tuerner and H. Tubb (Oxfordshire); A. Worsley (North and East Riding of Yorkshire); J. G. Walker (Scotland); L. C. H. Palairet and W. H. Brain (Oxford University).
The meeting commenced at twelve o'clock, and the first hour and a half was devoted to the arrangement of fixtures. After lunch the Chairman placed before the meeting a memorial from a number of umpires which had been handed to him. In the memorial, which was signed by the umpires of Derbyshire, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Notts, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire and Yorkshire, application was made for an increase of payment to umpires for county matches from £5 to £6. The memorialists based their claim for an increase on the ground of the constant strain and long and arduous work which their duties involved, and pointed to the difference which existed between players and umpires. Most of the counties paid their professional players £6 for each match, but whereas the cricketers had the advantage of playing in home engagements, all matches at which umpires officiated were played away from home. It constantly happened that umpires had to make long journeys to reach the various towns which they had to visit. This very often entailed considerable extra expense, and at the present rate of remuneration they, the umpires, were but little gainers by their engagements. The memorialists concluded by asking the county secretaries to pass the following resolution:- That county umpires for the future be paid £6 per match in all county matches played henceforth.
Mr. E. M. GRACE said he had been asked by the umpires named to bring their memorial before the meeting of county secretaries, and he was entirely in favour of the increase asked for. It must not be forgotten that the work of umpires was very arduous, and as a matter of fact they worked much harder than the players. The umpires had to stand out in the field all through the day, while the cricketers were able at intervals to take a rest. He (Mr. Grace) did not know whether any of the gentlemen present had officiated as umpires, but if they did so they would probably find it was extremely hard and tiring work. Speaking on behalf of Gloucestershire, he was entirely in favour of granting this extra £1 per match. If umpires were properly paid for their duties there was much less chance of having inferior men, and there would be no inducement for an umpire to give a man out leg-before-wicket when he was not out. Mr. Grace concluded by moving that in future umpires be paid £6.
Lord HAWKE pointed out that in two-day matches the players only received £4, and he suggested that if the proposed increase was granted in the case of three-day matches, the umpires should be content to receive £4 for two-day engagements.
Mr. A. J. WEBBE seconded Mr. Grace's resolution, without any reservation of the kind suggested by Lord Hawke.
Mr. W. H. C. OATES remarked that the meeting could hardly come to a definite conclusion that day, as the various county committees would have to be consulted on the point. He personally would not be able to vote one way or the other.
Mr. J. B. WOSTINHOLM observed that in Yorkshire at least there was a feeling that there was a desire on the part of some of the umpires to finish matches in two days. Where only one umpire was nominated by a county he had a pretty fair season, and as, as a rule, the umpire was a cricketer who had seen his best day, he could hardly expect to be paid as well as a professional who was actively engaged in the game. In cases where only two-day matches were played he was of opinion that £4 was sufficient. It would not be a bad plan to form a committee to receive the names of all umpires nominated, with a view of getting together a really good body of men. In the past they had had some very second-rate umpires in Yorkshire, and although they had not complained on the field-that would be very un-sportsmanlike-they had not felt altogether satisfied with the umpires that had been sent them, as some were men who were not quite up to the duties of their post. If umpires desired £6 for a three-day match, they ought to be satisfied with £4 for a two-day one.
Mr. GRACE agreed with Mr. Wostinholm's last observation.
Mr. HANSELL remarked that his county (Norfolk) paid umpires £1 a day and expenses in the case of out matches, and 10s. a day and expenses for home matches; and he did not think his committee would pay more. In reply to Lord Hawke, Mr. Hansell said his committee did not obtain their umpires from Lord's.
Mr. GRACE observed that one or two gentlemen had made remarks about umpires which he was sorry to hear. It was only intended that those umpires nominated by the counties and sent down by the secretary of the Marylebone Club should be paid £6 a match. If umpires were paid well there would be every inducement for them to perform their duties properly, if he stood umpire he should not know whom to no ball. (Laughter).
In reply to an observation that the meeting could not change the remuneration to umpires, the CHAIRMAN remarked that the present fee of £5 had been agreed to in that room. He suggested that the matter should be brought before the various county committees, who could send their decisions on the point.
After a little further conversation Mr. OATES proposed, and Dr. BENCRAFT seconded, "That all counties which nominate umpires for three-day matches send their answer to the memorial to the secretary of the M. C. C., the majority to decide," and this motion was carried.
The question of the visit of an Australian team then came under discussion and was introduced by Mr. ALCOCK, who remarked that he was sure he would be consulting the convenience of the representatives in bringing forward the proposal of Australian cricketers to visit this country in 1893. He did not think it necessary to go back on what had passed, as all knew that, acting on certain advice, the Australians had postponed the visit which they had intended to pay next year. With the telegram announcing that fact was a request that he should ask the good offices of the Marylebone Club and the counties in respect to a proposed tour in 1893; and as there was no other occasion when the collective voice of the counties could be heard, he thought it would be an advantage to the Australians and all concerned if the meeting gave an expression of opinion on the intended visit. In reply to an observation from Lord Hawke, Mr. Alcock said he was not suggesting that the counties would like to discuss the matter or that it was desirable to take opinion, but merely stated that the Australians proposed to come in 1893 if this met with the approval of the counties.
Mr. OATES said he had consulted his county (Notts) at a general meeting held in November, and it was decided that the proposal on the part of the Australians to come here next year should be objected to. There was also a general feeling that it would be great deal better if the visit were postponed until 1894. (Hear, hear.) If the Australians came in 1893 they would not have such a reception as a year later, and it would be better for county cricket that the visit should not take place until 1894. He proposed, "That the Australians be invited to visit England in 1894."
Lord HAWKE seconded the resolution, and remarked that it would be better for Australians to wait and see how they fared against Lord Sheffield's team. At the present time he did not think the Australians could send a side strong enough to hold their own against our representative elevens.
Mr. WEBBE said that Australians had done a great deal of good to English cricket, but there was an objection to the visits being so frequent. Counties were naturally desirous of placing their best elevens in the field for county matches, and they were frequently called upon when Australians were here to part with their players for the representative matches. If the Australians came here every four years the counties would more cheerfully give up their players.
The proposal to invite the Australians to visit England in 1894 was then put to the meeting and carried unanimously.