Club Cricket Conference

Wednesday, 16th October 2019

Mitcham and Sandham have their place in war Remembrance

By Charles Randall

8 November 2018

Andy Sandham, Mitcham CC's most famous player, is one of the county cricketers from the First World War mentioned in the ECB's Remembrance project this week.

To commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day on Sunday  November 11, the ECB have launched Cricket Remembers, a campaign to remember the cricketers who fought in the war.

The ECB have commissioned the eminent cricket historian David Frith, author of more than 30 cricket books,  to recreate the atmosphere in county cricket at this time. The championship was suspended between 1914-19, and at least 210 cricketers served in the First World War.

Sandham was one of the best batsmen in Surrey's history. He was unlucky and lucky. His opening partnership with the older more established Jack Hobbs put on 100-plus for Surrey on 66 occasions, but the war interrupted his county career when he was in his prime. Yet Sandham had the fortune to survive when others did not. His Test appearances were limited to 14, all after the war, in an England career that included an innings of 325 against the West Indies at the age of 39.

Sandham started his club cricket for Streatham United before joining Mitcham. He signed for Surrey as a professional in 1910 at the age of 20, though he turned out for Mitcham whenever he could, once scoring centuries in four consecutive matches. Despite the fruitful partnership with Hobbs, the Surrey pair surprisingly never played for England together due to the presence of Herbert Sutcliffe.

Sandham made his hundredth first class century for Surrey against Hampshire in 1935 and continued playing another two years. After World War II he took up a position as coach with Surrey, and later scorer, completing 60 years of service with the county while retaining his links with Mitcham as an active vice-president before his death at the age of 91.

Frith's feature, titled County Cricketers and the 1914-18 War is published on this week. He uses Archie MacLaren's observations to give a taste of the times. Examples include Sandham, who was sent home from the war due to injury, and Percy Jeeves,  the Moseley CC and Warwickshire seam-bowler. Jeeves, a Yorkshireman, was a near-certainty to play for England, but he was killed in France in 1916 and his body never found.  While never an England player, he was immortalised instead by PG Wodehouse as the valet, Jeeves, in his best-selling books.

The year 1915 featured the death of WG Grace, covered by Frith, and the founding of the Club Cricket Conference, set up by a group of eminent enthusiasts to protect the interests of recreational cricket against rampant war bureaucracy.

Frith, founder editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly, said: "As someone who had four ancestors fight in the Great War, two of whom never returned, and someone who has an enduring love for cricket, this project is very close to my heart.  The service and sacrifice made by the county cricketers and the countless more 'ordinary' cricketers who were killed while fighting for their country remains incalculable."

Frith added: "With this campaign I hope we can at least acknowledge the vast contribution of cricketers from the length and breadth of the British Isles and beyond to one of the most cataclysmic conflicts of our era."

ECB and MCC have partnered with the charity Remembered on their nationwide project called There But Not There, commemorating those who died with the aim of educating all generations about why they made the ultimate sacrifice.

To support the campaign, ECB is inviting people to share their own stories of the contribution cricketers made to the First World War using the hashtag #CricketRemembers.

This week, three England cricket teams abroad will  commemorate Armistice Day - Joe Root's team in Sri Lanka, England Women in the West Indies and England Lions in UAE.

Tom Harrison, ECB chief executive, said: "Cricket Remembers highlights the contribution made by people from cricket to the nation’s war effort.  We can only imagine the courage of those who went to fight and it is important that we commemorate their sacrifice. Through this campaign, we hope all followers of cricket can join us in remembering those from the game who played their part in the First World War."
David Frith's article: