Martin Chandler |
Having only joined the ranks of the First Class counties in 1992, 110 years after the club was formed, Durham’s will be by some distance the shortest of these pieces, though over that relatively modest 28 years the county has still generated a number of books.
Durham’s First Class bow was greeted by as many as three histories. Jack Bannister and David Graveney combined to write Durham CCC – Past, Present and Future. The first 170 pages are Bannister, former Warwickshire opening bowler and long time journalist and broadcaster, writing the history of the county club up to 1990. At that point Graveney takes over the story and describes his journey from Gloucestershire to Durham as one of the experienced old hands recruited to help mould the products of Durham’s youth policy into a team. His narrative extends to a further 90 pages and there is then a comprehensive set of statistical records of the Minor County that occupies a further fifty pages.
Competing with Bannister/Graveney, but not on a like for like basis, was writer/broadcaster Ralph Dellor who published Durham: Birth of a First Class County, covering much the same ground as Graveney had albeit in rather more detail. The third book, from another of the old hands recruited to the playing staff, was Simon Hughes’ From Major to Minor, which amounted to a diary of that first season.
It has been an up and down existence for Durham. Initially they were, unsurprisingly, the whipping boys of the Championship. By 2008 however they were Champions, and in 2009 local journalist Tim Wellock extended the history with Summers With Durham, looking at the club’s time at the bottom and its slow climb to the top. This was complemented by The Impossible Dream Come True, published the same year. That book was written by Tom Moffatt, one of the architects of the elevation to First Class status, and gives an insider’s account of the process.
After that first win Durham remained at the top for several seasons before financial burdens, contributed to in large part by the county’s efforts to bring Test cricket to the North East brought with them a crisis that saw the best players leave the club and a relegation forced on them by a points penalty in 2016. That story is told by Stuart Rayner in the excellent Five Trophies and a Funeral, published in 2019
As far as biographical books are concerned there have only been three relating to Durham players, two of which concern Steve Harmison. The first, Fast Work, was written by Tony Lawrence, and the second, Speed Demons, an autobiography, appeared in 2017. Ben Stokes autobiography, one suspects the first of several, appeared as Firestarter in 2016. There is also a Tempus 100 Greats book, put together by Matthew Appleby. That collection appeared in 2004 and covers both pre and post First Class status, 78 pre and 22 post.
And the two on my wish list? The first is a biography of Paul Collingwood, which surely will appear one day. My other choice need not be a substantial book, and perhaps even a monograph would do, but an account of Durham’s historic victory over Yorkshire in 1973 when they became the first Minor County to defeat a First Class county in the old Gillette Cup would be very welcome. It would also be the perfect sort of project for a de luxe leather bound limited edition signed by all the surviving players from both sides.