Wednesday, September 02, 2020

John Snow - my first cricketing hero

John Snow was my first cricketing hero. He played for Sussex, an affection for whose cricket team is about the only thing my father left me, and he was good enough to win series for England abroad.

Here you can see his two best test performances: 7/49 against the West Indies at Sabina Park on the 1967/8 tour of the West Indies (the first England tour I was aware of as a small boy) and a match-winning 7/40 at Sydney on the 1970/1 Ashes tour.

A couple of things strike the modern viewer. First, Snow is quick - quicker than most modern-day England seamers. Second, fielding standards have risen hugely in the last 50 years, yet at Sydney his fellow fast bowlers Peter Lever and Bob Willis are throwing themselves about to take close catches.

Snow, always a controversial figure. was left out by England throughout the 1973 and 1974 seasons because the authorities saw him as a troublemaker. 

As I was 13 and 14 at the time, that period seemed to last half a lifetime. I blamed Mike Denness, the England captain, for his omission, but later learnt that it was the doing of Alec Bedser, chairman of the selectors and professional misery.

Then in 1975 he was recalled and I paid on the gate at Edgbaston to see him open the bowling against Australia.

I came across a good recent article on Snow to share with you just now. Then I noticed the author's surname and realised, what with that and his being interested in Sussex cricket, he is probably a grandson of my first literary hero Malcolm Saville.

If only I could stay alive long enough and make enough trivial connections, I think I should understand the universe.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget this from 1966...

brandnewguy said...

Terrific clip. I too was at that 1975 Ashes test at Edgbaston (we lived just a mile away).
The singer Roy Harper was also a fan and name-checked John Snow in his sublime song "When An Old Cricketer Leaves The Crease" (also from 1975):
"When an old cricketer leaves the crease,
You never know whether he's gone,
If sometimes you're catching a fleeting glimpse
Of a twelfth man at silly mid-on,
And it could be Geoff and it could be John,
With a new ball sting in his tail,
And it could be me and it could be thee
And it could be the sting in the ale."

Anonymous said...

Did you know that he also wrote poetry? I bought a "slim volume" of Snow's verse at Lord's in about 1973, but I can't find it now and I cannot remember if any of it was any good.

Which makes me wonder if there's a market for a Cricketers' Poetry Anthology - Snow, Arlott, Francis Thompson......

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks Anonymous, I did know because some poems were included in Snow's autobiography Cricket Rebel in the mid 1970s.