Brocklesby Park Cricket Club


The British Pacific Fleet put in at that most beautiful of harbours: Sydney, as we sailed from the Indian to the Pacific Ocean. The year was 1945 and the war had only eight months to run, but we didn't realise that those months were to be punctuated by numerous Kamikazes, and rounded off by Atom Bombs; in close proximity, two of the most fiendish man-made weapons.

So what a welcome to have what was an imitation Test Match for we in HMS Indefatigable, with 71 aircraft, and 2500 men, the largest ship in a large fleet, had been challenged to a match on Sydney Cricket Ground by, "Old New South Wales".

Entry forms were circulated for would-be players, but my career as 2nd XI, St James', Grimsby, change bowler, No. 10 bat, good singer, did not impress. Although we did have a number of useful players.The Commander (exec) was in the Navy team, and Lieut. (ops) opened the bowling for Durham. There were also several mature league cricketers, from prewar, plus ex-university and school cricketers.

Whoever they were, when they arrived on the huge Sydney ground, they must have been shaken by their opponents who were, and this is from a memory of fifty years ago: Mailey(capt), Oldfield(wk), O'Reilly, Kippax, Ebeling, Chipperfield, McCartney, McCabe, Babcock, plus two good A N Others. Fortunately, the great Don was away, but this was still nearly a Test team.

Some of the ship's company preferred to go Crumpet Hunting in Sydney, rather than watch cricket, and some of us were on flying duty, but even so there was a good crowd, and the match was by no means a walkover.

The ship batted first and scored 151 all out, and Old New South Wales knocked them off for six wickets. As most of the Australians were aged forty plus, and most of our team were a good deal less, they considered this quite a triumph.

So eleven Navy men played their version of a Test Match, and the rest of the day was given over to a party in the Wardroom, where the food was good, as it usually was for parties, and with gin at 2d a tot, and whisky at 3d, one couldn't afford to be sober!

We returned from our Pacific operations on Sakishima and the Jap Islands, but never had a return match; as the first time it was winter, with the temperature below 70F, like it is here in midsummer; and our second return when the war was over, and most of us were due for our relief.

Our only active game on deck was deck hockey, played on a steel deck of two and a half acres, with no protection: obviously a blood sport.

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Just the one, Mrs. Wembley?