Cricketana in 2006

Nice piece in today’s Wisden Almanack special on cricketana last year.

But auctions and controversy do seem to go together. In November, Christie’s auctioned what was definitely a cricket ball. It was said to be the one that Garry Sobers clobbered for the last of his six sixes in an over at Swansea in 1968. But how do we know it was that ball?

Christie’s had done a great deal of research. A 17-year-old spectator, Richard Lewis, searched for the ball as he was leaving the ground and found it in the gutter. The ball was handed back to Sobers and was believed to have been destined for the Trent Bridge Museum. But it never got there. For a time it was on display in one of the bars there, then supporters’ club secretary Josie Miller popped it in her make-up drawer for safe keeping. The ball arrived at Christie’s with a certificate of provenance signed by Sobers. But some players from the match say Stuart Surridge balls were in use. This was a Dukes. On the other hand, at least two balls were used in that over, so the replacement could have been a different make. Whatever, it made £22,000.

With relief, one can report there were no arguments at all about the burr walnut Victorian kidney-shaped pedestal desk sold by Bonham’s in March for £54,000 to an anonymous bidder. Barry Johnston, son of Brian, has fond memories of his father sitting at the desk in his study.

“Every morning, he would religiously sit at this desk and sort through his post,” he recalled. “He would receive countless letters from cricket fans and people asking him to open fêtes and so on, and he would scribble replies on the back of Donald McGill’s saucy seaside postcards – whether it was to a cricket fan or a bishop.”

There are always a host of really interesting, different, offbeat articles in the Almanack and we’ll be putting one up each week in its usual Sunday slot. Of course, you really ought to just go and buy it as well.

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