Men of Essex
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Quite why Essex County Cricket Club didn’t appoint a President for the first ten years after its formation (1876) remains a mystery, but the first three Presidents were all distinguished Peers of the Realm, viz;
Lord Carlingford 1886-1895 (Lord Lieutenant of Essex 1873-1892)
Lord Rayleigh 1896-1910 (Lord Lieutenant of Essex 1892-1901)
Lord O’Hagan 1911 (Lord-in-Waiting to King Edward VII 1907-1910)
Other Titled Presidents
Sir William Courtauld 1921
(High Sheriff of Essex 1921)
Sir Francis Whitmore1923
(Lord Lieutenant of Essex 1936-1958)
Sir Frederic Carne Rasch 1924-1926
(High Sheriff of Essex 1924)
Sir Henry Honeywood Curtis-Bennett 1927
(Deputy/Chairman Essex Quarter Sessions, Recorder of Chelmsford, MP for Chelmsford 1923-1936)
Sir Richard Colvin 1931-1935
(Lord Lieutenant of Essex 1929-1936)
Sir Hubert Ashton 1949-1970
(High Sheriff of Essex 1943)
From 1921 to 1933, the Duke of York was ‘Patron’ of Essex CCC - the first and last such position at the club. Created Duke of York in 1920, he was to become King George VI in 1936. (Mrs C. E. Green, wife of Charles, the 'founding father' of Essex CCC, was also a Patron - from 1927 to 1930). The Duke’s connection with the county of Essex is unclear, although the Duke of York’s Royal Military School was evacuated to Hutton, near Brentwood, for the duration of the First World War. There are two pubs in Essex carrying the name ‘Duke of York’ - one is in Billericay and the other in Saffron Walden - but there isn’t any record of the Duke having stayed or dined at either establishment. Quite why these positions were created and, indeed, were discontinued, is unknown. The suggestion that too many gins were consumed by the Committee on a cold winter's night is, perhaps, a little unkind.
While also acting as chairman, James Round assumed the captaincy during the club’s first six years, and in 1894 A. P. 'Bunny' Lucas captained the club through its inaugural season as a first-class county. Some other fine players took the reins in subsequent years, either by desire or persuasion, including the disciplinarian Johnny Douglas who ruled from 1911 to 1928. However, none, it has to be said, achieved any success in the county championship. Even the post-Second World War tenures of such 'Greats' as Doug Insole, Trevor Bailey, and Brian Taylor failed to fill the trophy cabinet, but this hugely popular trio deserve much credit for laying, in their different ways, the foundations for subsequent glory.
Keith Fletcher - an outstanding captain
Eventually it was to be the legendary Keith Fletcher who steered the club to new heights with the now-famous first trophy successes in that memorable year, 1979 - winning the County Championship and lifting the Benson & Hedges Cup. In that one magical season, the club acquired a taste for winning and it proved the launchpad for its subsequent achievements by virtually dominating the county game for the next 12 years. Keith’s natural instincts for captaincy might now be in the county’s DNA because Essex has since provided no less than three other captains of England - Graham Gooch, Nasser Hussain and Sir Alastair Cook. So in the space of 30 years, Essex CCC spawned four captains of our national side - a remarkable record.
Essex Men as Presidents of MCC
Charles Green (1905)
Sir Hubert Ashton (1960)
Sir Cyril Hawker (1970)
Doug Insole CBE (2007)
Essex Men as Secretaries of MCC
Jack Bailey (1974-1987)
Colonel John Stephenson (1987-1993)
Essex Men as Test Captains of England
Frederick Fane (1907-1910)
Johnny Douglas (1911-1924)
Mike Denness (1973-1975)*
*Captained England prior to joining Essex in 1977
Keith Fletcher (1981-1982)
Graham Gooch (1988-1993)
Nasser Hussain (1999-2003)
Sir Alastair Cook** (2010-2017)
Sir Alastair Cook - a record number of matches as Test captain (59)
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'Wisden Cricketers of the Year' (Essex Players)
Fred Bull (1898), Charlie McGahey (1902), Walter Mead (1904), Percy Perrin (1905), Johnny Douglas (1915), Hubert Ashton (1922), Jack Russell (1923), Stan Nicholls (1934), Ken Farnes (1939), Peter Smith (1947), Trevor Bailey (1950), Doug Insole (1956), Brian Taylor (1972), Keith Fletcher (1974), Keith Boyce (1974), Ken McEwan (1978), John Lever (1979), Graham Gooch (1980), John Childs (1987), Neil Foster (1988), Mark Waugh (1991), Stuart Law (1998), Nasser Hussain (2003), Sir Alastair Cook* (2012), Jamie Porter (2018), Simon Harmer (2020).
In addition, Jim Laker (1952), Mike Denness (1975) and Salim Malik (1988) each received the award prior to joining Essex CCC.
Essex CCC 1970
Back (L to R): C. Brown (Secretary), Ray East, Keith Boyce, Brian Ward, Eddie Presland, Stuart Turner,
John Lever, Graham Savile, David Acfield, Jack Bartlam (Scorer)
Front (L to R): Robin Hobbs, Keith Fletcher, Brian Taylor (Captain), Gordon Barker, Brian Edmeades
The county club has given much pleasure to its supporters over the years (although a few more trophies would have been welcomed!), and members of Belhus CC are positively encouraged to pop along to the County Ground in Chelmsford as often as possible during the season - and sign up for membership to support your county.
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** Knighted in 2019
For more information about Essex CCC please see 'Essex County Cricket Club:The Official History' (David Lemmon and Mike Marshall 1987) and Essex CCC:Memories (Paul Hiscock & Tony McDonald 2018).
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