A tale of two local heroes

Ralph Dellor reviews Corsham's Two Test Cricketers by D.T. Smith

Ralph Dellor
Go into any cricket pavilion in the land and somewhere you will find a fading photograph of the club's leading dignitary. It might be of someone who gained a Blue, played for the county, or even of a leading player who once appeared in a benefit match on the ground.
Go down to Wiltshire and in the pavilion of Corsham Cricket Club you will find not just photographs but a booklet emblazoned with the crest of the club and the crown and three lions of England. It has been produced to commemorate the achievements of the two men entitled to wear both emblems.
Septimus Paul Kinneir played for Warwickshire between 1898 and 1914, making his sole Test appearance in 1911-12 in the First Test against Australia in Sydney. Cedric Ivan James (Jim) Smith was a Middlesex man between 1934 and the outbreak of the Second World War, appearing in five Tests between 1934-5 (v West Indies in Bridgetown) and 1937 (v New Zealand at Old Trafford). They shared the distinction of being Wisden Cricketers of the Year for 1912 and 1935 respectively. That, in itself, is quite a distinction for the small rural town in which they were both born.
Another local man, D.T. Smith (no relation), has produced a most informative and entertaining volume in a limited edition of 100 that recalls the careers and times of these two cricketers. Painstakingly researched, the volume is much more than simply a collection of facts and figures.
It traces their careers with the club, the minor county, first-class cricket and their Tests. It looks into family and social history, and what happened to the two players after their first-class careers. Supporting photographs are a bonus, as are the delightful insights into the times in which they played from official documentation.
Take a letter from MCC to "Smith" dated 16.7.37, informing him that the Board of Control Selection Committee "will be glad if you will play for England against New Zealand." Signed by the chairman, P.F. Warner, it concludes "please let me know forthwith by telegram to Lord's that we may expect you, and whether you require hotel accommodation." Even if the rates of pay (for professionals only, of course) have changed from those more formal days, one thing has not. The letter contains the condition that "the Cricketer does not contribute a report or statement of any kind to the Press in regard to the match." The third estate was not to be trusted, even in those days.
The book is available at £16, including p&p, from the author at 22 Pickwick Road, Corsham, Wiltshire SN13 9BT.