Festival Cricket Match – A review by John Payne

July 25, 2017 - Martin

Hero dog saves Wilts cricket match!

The Frome Festival brought unexpected drama to the sleepy Wiltshire village of Broughton Gifford on Sunday 16 July.

Gatsby, a four-year old cocker spaniel plunged in bravely to retrieve the ball when a big hit for six landed in a muddy pond on the Common. As spectators and players shouted encouragement, a bedraggled Gatsby returned with the ball and play carried on.

The match, organised by Frome Festival founder and President Martin Bax, was one of a series of Frome Festival events commemorating the life and work of the poet Edward Thomas who died on the Western Front in 1917. The Broughton Gifford connection is that Thomas stayed at Broughton Gifford Manor on a number of occasions as guest of Arnold Bax (composer) and Clifford Bax (playwright) in the years before the First World War. Thomas scored 2 runs against the village team in 1912. He was a better poet than cricketer.

Now 105 years later, the Bax eleven captained by James Bax including no less than 6 members of the Bax family took on the village team captained by Tom Gerrish, great-grandson of one of the original Broughton Gifford team.

The ground at Broughton Gifford is a beauty. A circle of mown grass fringed by wilder common stretching away towards the surrounding trees and houses. Also the welcoming Bell on the Common pub which served tea to the players, and the stern grey Baptist Chapel.

Such cricket tours by the Baxes and their young friends were a regular feature of West Wiltshire life in the far-off years of endless summer before war changed everything.

Exactly what the villagers thought of those Edwardian matches is not recorded. But everyone present last Sunday enjoyed it enormously. There was an ice-cream van at tea-time and lemon drizzle cake for spectators, while the cricketers enjoyed a drinks break with lemonade served by – Martin Bax, no less. Some of them had ice-cream too! There were swifts and swallows. And Gatsby the hero dog, who is also a Bax (well, owned by a Bax).

An afternoon to remember. The score? Oh yes, the Baxes won by 235 runs to 190. Both teams scored quickly despite the rather long grass in the outfield, the direct route for six being the preferred option – including the afore-mentioned straight drive from Laurence Bax into the pond.

Three batsmen reached the retirement figure of 50 – Archie Crawford and Bryan Jater for the Bax team and Tom Gerrish for Broughton Gifford. Everyone in both teams managed to walk to the middle to bat and most made a contribution to the total!

The bowlers had a harder task given the prolific run scoring although Paul Girdler and Nick Gerrish for Broughton Gifford bowled magnificently with figures of 1 for 14 and 2 for 24 respectively. For the Bax XI the star performer with the ball was Nigel Arbury bowling at the start of the innings and conceding just 24 runs from his eight overs with 2 wickets, while Mathew Bax was just as economical with 1 for 21 off 6.

All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon’s cricket with the total runs scored of over 400 contrasting somewhat with the miserly figure of 159 made in 1912 when each team batted twice. And they say it’s now a batsman’s game!

John Payne

18 July 2017

Broughton Gifford team are as follows: Standing from left: George Balkwill, Rob Hawkins, Tom Gerrish (Captain), Nick Gerrish, Duncan Allsopp, Abdul Mohammed. Sitting from left: Ben Walters, Alex Ladner, Luke Neale, Alan Simmons, Paul Girdle
The Bax Team: Standing left to right:  Tin Bax, Martin Bax, Nigel Arbury, Mathew Bax, Archie Crawford, Bryan Jater. Sitting left to right: Patrick Bax, Simon Bax, James Bax (Captain), Laurence Bax, Stuart Horne
Photo credit Mervyn Clingan