From The Archive: Hampshire Memorabilia

Hampshire Cricket historian Dave Allen looks at items housed within the club's archives with a focus on the great Barry Richards

We have many cricket bats in the Archive, most signed, including some from international matches played on our ground, quite a few of Hampshire’s post-war teams and some very special ones. Those include ‘Teddy’ Wynyard’s bat from 1896 on which he lists the centuries he scored that year, Phil Mead’s inscribed bat with which he scored his 100th century (at Northampton) and one signed by all the Hampshire and Australia players at Southampton in 1934 – including Don Bradman.

We have a couple also from the early 1970s that are connected with another great batsman, Barry Richards. They are both Gray Nicholls bats and the earlier is signed and inscribed by Barry, informing us that he used it in John Player Sunday League matches in 1971 when Hampshire finished sixth with Barry topping the averages of their regular players. His inscription tells us that it’s notable for being the first coloured bat to be used in that English competition – it has a distinctly orange hue. We are currently talking with Gray Nicholls who wish to borrow the bat to display.

The second Gray Nicholls bat is signed by all 13 of the Hampshire players who won their second (and to date last) County Championship in 1973. The bat was originally one of those provided by the company for Barry in 1972, but I believe he had sufficient, so passed this one to the young bowler Richard McIlwaine – who as it happened had shared a 10th wicket partnership with Barry on his debut at Bournemouth in 1969 that avoided a probable follow-on. Richard played four Championship matches in 1969 & 1970, but by 1972 was completing a teacher training course, while playing for the 2nd XI, and he would play no more first team county cricket.

Richard and I were old school friends, and after a couple of years away from education I met him again at the college in Portsmouth. I played as an opening batsman for the college cricket side, and Richard, who batted lower down offered me the bat for a nominal sum. So, I became its third owner and used it for some years during my very modest college and Hampshire League career.

Some years later (2003), as Hampshire’s Archivist, I went down to Taunton to see what happened to be Robin Smith’s final appearance for Hampshire. I was there also to collect two Roy Marshall ‘autograph’ bats from his daughter – they are also now in the Archive – and in following years I took one of them to our former players’ reunions to get it signed by those of the 1961 Champions that were still with us. Then it struck me I might do the same for the 1973 Champions with the Richards/McIlwaine bat. Some were regular visitors so that was easy, but when we held what will be sadly a one-off 40th reunion of them all in 2013, I got the last two, Tom Mottram and David O’Sullivan. How I would love to add a third such memento – perhaps in 2021?

Dave Allen

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