MY FIRST PARTNERSHIP WITH DENIS COMPTON ON STANMORE GROUND
By W. J. Edrich (England & Middlesex)
WELL remember the first time I played against the Stanmore Cricket Club (of which, I may say, I have for some years been a member). This was on the 1st September, 1934, when I played against the Club for the Lord’s Ground Staff. It was a day I shall not easily forget, for not only was the game played in perfect weather, and the whole occasion a most enjoy- able one, but it marked the first of many delightful partnerships in which I have been happy to be associated with Denis Compton.
The Ground Staff batted first, and the Stanmore Cricket Club got off to a sensational start. Laurie Thursting (who played many times for Stanmore, and subsequently played as a Professional for Leicester- shire) opened the batting with Charlie Goldsmith, to the bowling of Bruce Chapman, who was making them come down the hill at great speed. In the first over, Goldsmith was very well caught in the gully for nought. Number three in our side was Andy Wilson, who subsequently moved to Gloucestershire and played for that County as a wicket-keeper. At the beginning of Bruce Chapman’s second over he played over a good one and was bowled for nought, and when Frank Putner, who had batted a number of times for Middlesex, was bowled by Bruce Chapman for five at the end of his second over, we were obviously in trouble. Denis Compton batted at number five on this occasion, and he and Thursting had an uncomfortable time against the two Chapmans. Thursting was soon run out as a result of a sharp return from the leg side by Ken Chapman, and at the end of one hour the Ground Staff had scored 30 for 4, with Denis Compton and Harry Lee, the Middlesex opening batsman, at the wicket.
At this time, Denis was sixteen years old, but even then had apparently no nerves at all, and obviously was full of big match temperament. His method of dealing with an accurate attack was to use his feet to get to the pitch of the ball, and he did this to such effect that in a short time 6’s and 4’s began to flow from his bat with increasing speed. Several hits of astonishing power for a boy of his years cleared the Pavilion or went into the road. He scored at a great rate, whilst Harry Lee was content to keep the other end closed. At lunch time the look of the score board had been completely altered, and although Harry Lee was bowled immediately after lunch by Ken Chapman for a painstaking 35 the tide had turned. I was fortunate enough to see the ball from the start of my innings, and Denis and I had a most enjoyable time.
Three quarters of an hour after lunch the score was 200 for five, and with Bob Beveridge and Ted Roberts making runs fast our total eventually reached 316, with Denis 129 and myself 63 not out.
When Stanmore batted, I was given a bowl at the bottom end. In those days I had ideas of being a genuinely fast bowler, and on this occasion I was able to make the ball fly about a bit. On looking at the records I see that I took 4 for 26, and I am reminded by Ken Chapman that in trying to play a hook off me he was hit on the chin and had to leave the field for the insertion of stitches. This was not the only casualty, for R. Gurney, the Stanmore bowler, as the result of attempting to stop a fierce drive with his foot during the Lord’s innings, had already been carried off the field. Under these handicaps, Stanmore were only able to total 62. I well remember the festivities which followed the game at the Abercorn Hotel, which was then the Club’s Headquarters.