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  • Writer's pictureThe Hambledon Club

Guest Speaker: Jonathan Rice

Updated: Jun 13, 2023


Jonathan Rice has been a Member of Kent County Cricket Club for about 25 years, member of General Committee since 2004. On Audit and Remuneration Committees. Consultant and trainer/coach specialising in cross-cultural communication and strategic change. 2006/08 National Chairman of The Lord’s Taverners cricket charity. Trustee of Brian Johnston Memorial Trust. Member of M.C.C., served on their Arts and Library Committee 2003 – 2011; Trustee and playing member of Saltwood Cricket Club (KVL Div 3; HS 65 v Great Chart, BB 7 for 10 v Newington, both many years ago); author of over 50 books, on cricket, golf, popular music, television sitcoms and business in Japan, among other things. Jonathan is also Chairman of Kent County Cricket Club’s Heritage Group.

 

Our Chaplain, The Reverend David Brown, said grace.


The President, Douglas Miller, welcomed all members and their guests.


Apologies for Absence: John Fingleton, Peter Ryder, Geoffrey Gough, Grayston Burgess, Ann Knott, Michael Woof, Brian Ford, Robert Brooke, Chrissie Marris, Keigh Mason, Anthony Mason, Roy Birch, Stephen Green, Dudley Green, Terry Johnson, Rick Ankers, Martin Davey


The President: Our next Speaker, Vic Marks, may be speaking to us at our next Spring meeting (TBC). Members were reminded to put their place names in the containers provided for the prize draw.


Dave Allen: In support of Youth Cricket, this season a Cage Cricket Kit will be donated to Purbrook School (previously the club has donated kits to St Edmunds School in Portsmouth and to a school in Leigh Park). A representative from the school was unable to attend to receive the cheque from Terry Crump, Vice Chairman of Cage4All, so Dave Allen accepted a cheque on the school’s behalf.


Mark Williams: MCC Laws of Cricket advisor briefly spoke to our members. His committee has recently surveyed the umpire community around the world to ask their opinions about various proposed changes to the Laws of Cricket. Should any member of the club think the law of cricket is wrong or should be changed, Mark asked members to contact him via our president.


The Treasurer: Members were reminded to pay outstanding subscriptions before they left; future subscriptions can only be paid by standing order. See the Secretary for membership forms. Ties are available at a cost of £15.


The Secretary: As there have been some problems with uploading recordings onto the club website, she may look to reproduce a new site in the near future. Also, any members wishing non-disclosure of their email address, please let her know.


The Steward: Prize Draw in support of Hambledon Youth Cricket was won by Nick Twine, and raised £265. After deductions including the speaker’s expenses, £187.50 was raised for Youth Cricket.


The Treasurer presented a cheque to Steve Toogood for Hambledon Youth Cricket.


The Toasts: The President asked members to be upstanding for the traditional Toasts:

The Queen’s Mother; The King; Hambledon Club; Cricket; The immortal memory of Madge; The President: (The secretary asked members to toast the President)


The Speaker: The President welcomed Jo Rice to The Hambledon Club and introduced Jo as an author of a number of cricket books on various topics, and a broadcaster, consultant and lecturer. He was a Member of MCC’s Arts & Libraries Committee and is also responsible for the resurgence of the counties’ archivists and curators – as well as having a musical brother who is also fond of cricket! There is a broad biography of his many interests to be found at http://www.timrice.co.uk/family.html


Jo began by recalling that cricket had been a part of his life from an early age. Appropriately to the day, he remembered his first view of county cricket having been Desmond Eagar’s Hampshire against Sussex at Bournemouth. He made no exaggerated claims for his own playing career although he was proud to reveal that in 1972 he was the leading wicket-taker in all of Japan on the Yokohama matting wickets. The ground was high up, while on the next level down the Germans were playing on the tennis courts, so the cricketers took great pleasure in peppering the courts with the occasional boundary! Continuing the theme of cricket abroad he claimed to have played once at the highest level – in Johannesburg, which is more than 5,000 feet above sea level.


While in South Africa on business he had a breakfast meeting (anathema to him) at which there was mention of his “famous brother.” Jo confirmed this and back came the response, “Wonderful player that Clive Rice.” Another case of mistaken identity by someone researching the history of cricket at Arundel Castle. He had played there once, scoring four runs for the Lord’s Taverners, but the caller wanted to talk to him as the man who had scored more than anyone else on the ground. He was confused until eventually, it transpired they were after John Rice of Hampshire.


He told us he had played quite often in Hampshire, particularly at Odiham, while one of the more memorable games was in February 1988 at Hartley Wintney. It was a charity match because the club had opened a new pavilion the previous summer, which was demolished in the great storm of October 1987, so they were fund-raising to rebuild it. Tom Graveney was one of his teammates as they froze while changing in Containers and continued to freeze on the field. They were then astonished when at around 5 pm two stark-naked streakers emerged from the pub and raced twice around the field. Jo added, “That’s Hampshire for you – it would never happen in Kent.”


He claimed a tenuous connection with the Hambledon Club, having edited the Wisden anthology on the Grace family, including of course WG, the greatest cricketer ever refused posthumous membership of our club. Andrew Renshaw had told him that this was on the basis that WG had failed to meet his agreed commitment to unveil the monument at the famous 1908 game.


Nonetheless, Jo observed that WG had changed cricket completely and recounted the memories of Major James Gillman who was interviewed for the 1977 Wisden. The Major had played with WG towards the end of his career and recalled that the great man was not out at lunch during which period he consumed a varied diet of hock, claret, the roast of that day, and cheese, concluding with his preferred whiskey. It is perhaps unsurprising that he was out shortly after – the wonder is that he returned to the crease at all!


In addition to this project, Jo has been researching for some while about The Reverend Charles Paulet who reputedly kept The Hambledon Club alive for 30 years. Despite this, Jo suggested that we should have ‘blackballed’ him rather than Grace and he explained why.

Paulet was possibly the illegitimate son of the Duke of Bolton - “A Ninny and a Fool” – who took up with the star of the Beggar’s Opera, which was the biggest hit musical of its time. The Duke fell in love with her, took her as his mistress and from 1729-1754 they stayed together, although he was already married but estranged. She gave birth to Charles Paulet within nine months of meeting the Duke from which we can conclude either a particularly lively start to the relationship or that he was actually the illegitimate son from her previous relationship with the Portuguese Ambassador.


Jo proposed as a consequence that Paulet can be considered a ‘bastard’ in three ways as the illegitimate son of either the Duke or the Ambassador and thirdly by his nature. With such qualifications, he of course went into the church. The real love of his life was gambling – he gambled on everything. He was the man who famously bet against Hambledon when Nyren and his teammates saved the game and Paulet lost a considerable sum of money. He loved the horses, and Jo described him as a man of fashion, a rogue, and an immense snob. He lived at Hackford Hall near Basingstoke and had two younger brothers.


Paulet was one of the men who formulated the Laws of Cricket 1774 at Pall Mall Inn, although Jo suggested his main interest would have been in the last of the 13 Laws, concerned with gambling and the calculation of scores. Jo observed that sport has always depended on the gambling instincts of those who follow it but was no fan of the regular gambling adverts on Sky TV’s cricket broadcasts. Paulet’s brother Percy died young but had left a son, also Charles, and so Charles Paulet Snr, his uncle, became his Guardian. Paulet Jnr also went into the church and was a similarly unattractive character to his uncle – and apparently the model for Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice. In 1830 because of his debts, he had to flee the country and settle in Belgium. In 1833 Bell’s Life published his obituary although he was still alive, so when he died the following year they simply re-published the notice.


Charles Jnr’s son was more significant in cricketing terms. Frederick Paulet immigrated to Australia where he helped to form Melbourne CC becoming their first President and he also played first-class cricket for Victoria.


Jo described some of his other books. One was the Pavilion Book of Pavilions to celebrate the publisher’s 10th anniversary. This was “great fun, with a wonderful photographer (Paul Barker) and they included Broadhalfpenny Down although on one occasion they did end up at different grounds in the Lake District.” Jo is still hopeful of a commission to do the worldwide version. He also wrote Start of Play about how various sports began – again including Hambledon.


To conclude, Jo returned to the Graces and focused on WG’s elder brother EM Grace (born 1841), one of his “absolute favourite players of all time.” Lord Harris praised his delightful stories, regretting that he never wrote them down because he told them “with bravado and good fun.” Jo suggested he was perhaps the most competitive cricket ever and cited the occasion when, in his sixties, he sent his career records to Wisden and the editor published it in the 1909 edition. His overall record was an incredible 76,705 runs and 11, 959 wickets. He listed the hundreds of wickets he took in his sixties each season for the Thornbury Club and also the season in which there were “208 catches missed off his bowling.” Sadly for him, he was probably the greatest cricket ever seen until WG arrived. The three brothers played together in the first Test Match, England v Australia, which was the only occasion that three brothers appeared in a Test match together.


There is a famous story of WG being bowled, replacing the bails and continuing to bat, telling the bowler “They came to see me bat, not you bowl.” But Jo noted that Wisden recorded it as Surrey’s Harry Jupp not WG. It was simply that WG was such a great ‘celebrity’ that anything said about cricket would be attributed to WG. Elsewhere, he captained England at bowls and also played golf to an age – he was a hugely powerful man.


Jo and Andrew Renshaw had produced the Wisden Collectors’ Guide and finally, Jo reflected on producing anthologies, which he thought originally might be fun as a ‘cut-and-paste’ job, except that “you have to read an awful lot.” For example, with regard to the Wisden Grace anthology, there is a Grace mentioned in everyone, with WG in all except the very first, which mentioned his brother, so that required reading 150 plus copies. He is used to it now.


The President thanked Jo and said it was a privilege to have him come to speak to us. Through appreciative applause, the President again thanked Jo for coming to speak to us.


AOB: None The president thanked the staff for looking after us and reminded people to pay for the lunch on leaving.


Next Meeting: 2 April 2016. The speaker to be confirmed.



Newsletter 34: 11 October 2015

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