The Nightwatchmen - Roses Special
The Nightwatchman is Wisden’s cricket quarterly. Launched in 2013, it offers readers an eclectic mix of the some of the best and most entertaining sports writing available. Contributors include journalists, award-winning novelists, poets, musicians, historians, ex-cricketers and even knights of the realm.
The Autumn 2018 issue is a Roses special, celebrating the rivalry between Lancashire and Yorkshire. The two sides have provided England with almost 170 of their 690 or so players, some 25 per cent. Both counties, wherever their protean borders have been drawn, have incredibly rich and proud cricketing histories, and matches between them are the stuff of legend. No quarter asked, none given.
It is quite possible that the Roses match is the most drawn fixture in sport (almost half of the nigh on 300 fixtures have ended in stalemate), neither side wanting to give the other a sniff of the victory that could ensure bragging rights for months to come. And neither set of supporters has ever shied away from a spot of gentle bragging.
Without wishing to replicate Yorkshire’s native-only policy, we looked to feature as many writers as possible with links to one county or t’other, or indeed both, and we were delighted that so many were happy to go into bat for their team. We also spoke to players who have worn the rose with distinction: the two Lloyds, Clive and David, for team red, and Richard Hutton and Katherine Brunt for team white. And even one, David Byas, who did what only six other Englishmen had done since 1900 and risked the wrath of the Broad Acres by moving across from Yorkshire to Lancashire. They all offer fascinating insight into the make-up of Roses clashes.
And we’ve gratefully borrowed from the two great writers of Roses cricket: Jim Kilburn of the Yorkshire Post – precise, prolific and polished – and Neville Cardus of the Manchester Guardian – descriptive and debonair. Thanks to the Guardian, the Wisden Almanack and to Bob Hilton at the fantastic Cardus Archive at Old Trafford for giving us access to these pieces.
Elsewhere Colin Shindler, David Hopps, Kamran Abbasi and Daniel Norcross recall their very different Roses upbringings, Colin Evans shares a very personal appreciation of Brian Statham, Harry Pearson looks at Yorkshire’s overseas players – or the lack of them – and Paul Edwards reminds us of the great games of the 1930s. Graham Hardcastle looks at some electric clashes of more recent vintage while David Warner and Alex Bowden both use Twenty20 as the springboard for discussing the age-old rivalry.
Finally, Andy Wilson discusses what it means to be Lancastrian, Ian McMillan runs the rule over the language used by the different sets of fans, Scott Oliver visits Todmorden CC to find out if it is red or white, and Alan Tyers imagines a nuclear war wiping out everything except the odd cricket-loving cockroach and, of course, Geoffrey Boycott.