MONDAY 24 rd JULY 2017

Game 6 at Port Hill Park Staffordshire was the furthest destination for the Aussie 050s during our stay at Leamington so we got up at 6.30 am for our religious bath together. A quick breakie and off in convoy through the guts of Birmingham “HI HO HI HO….off to work we go!”

We only lost 2 vehicles this time so we are improving. Upon arrival we were greeted by a fine sloping greenish ground steeped in cricket history. Plaques everywhere heralded the ghost of Sydney Barnes generally regarded as one of the greatest bowler ever.

Sydney Francis Barnes (19 April 1873 – 26 December 1967) was a right-handed bowler who bowled at a pace that varied from medium to fast-medium with the ability to make the ball swing both ways and break from off or leg which was somewhat reminiscent of Skipper Paul Shenhouse when he was 7 years old .

Barnes (aka Stenhouse) was unusual in that despite a very long career as a top-class player he spent little more than two seasons in first-class cricket, representing Warwickshire and Lancashire. Instead he preferred league and minor counties cricket for mostly professional reasons. He played for several clubs in the LancashireNorth StaffordshireBradford and Central Lancashire leagues between 1895 and 1934 and between 1906 until to 1914, he moved to the North Staffordshire League and played here with Porthill CC. In addition he had two phases playing for Staffordshire in the Minor Counties Championship. In Test cricket, Barnes played for England in 27 matches from 1901 to 1914, taking 189 wickets at 16.43, one of the lowest Test bowling averages ever achieved. In 1911–12, he helped England to win the Ashes when he took 34 wickets in the series against Australia. In 1913–14, his final Test series, he took a World Series record 49 wickets against South Africa.

In 1963 Barnes was named by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack in its hundredth edition as one of its "Six Giants of the Wisden Century". In 2008 he had the highest rating among bowlers in the ICC Best-Ever Test Championship Ratings and in 2009 he was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame. He died at the youthful age of 94 and at that time was still good enough to play against us.

A decent crowd had built as they were trucked in from the local nursing homes as the locals had heard a top quality International team was in town and they connected with the speed of our more matured aged cricket. One such dedicated fan regaled us for several hours about his 6 month stint living in southern Sydney and insisted photos with the 2 Shire lads in our team with his favourite 1963 photo of Cronulla beach which he just happened to carry around with him in his car for the last 54 years. Ah the rigors of our media commitments to an adoring public!

Local Captain Tony Dutton lost the toss to our Captain Tim Pellen standing today instead of Paul Shenhouse (aka Sydney Barnes ) who was rested to practice his long lost art of swinging and breaking the ball both ways at speed.

The team was Tim Pellen Capt; Alan Chellew; Geoff Doyle; Gordon McGurk; Mal Coleman; Bobby Mc Gee; Mick Munro; Fabian Heath wkpr; Greg Briggs; Ross Belstead and David Crocker who was playing his last game before returning to Australia for urgent family reasons. Constant recent Facebook photos showed his wife throwing out his cricket gear and his other toys whilst he was away and also indicated the demolition and new house renovations she was making in his timely absence. It seems the fact that Mojo is a practising Barrister is of little consequence whilst he is away from home as a touring International cricketer in the UK.