TOM GRAVENEY was in great form, as was so often the case for him at Lord's.
The centre of attention at the launch of a book celebrating his life – 'Touched By Greatness' (Pitch Publishing; author Andy Murtagh), Tom said: "It is a great game – make sure it stays that way.”
The occasion was a joy. Many MCC presidents including Tim Rice and Mike Gatting were there, as was David Collier, chief executive of ECB, and Paul Downton, who leads Team England.
Stars of the occasion, however, were Tom’s children and grandchildren. It was a family occasion and the book is a family one, too. There is a hero and a heroine, easily identifiable for all the right reasons. They are son Tim and daughter Becky. Their support for their father has been unstinting and Tom is as proud of them as they are of him.
Knowing about Tom’s cricketing life I found the family story compelling. It was not an altogether easy one as the immediate years after retirement were difficult, but whatever happened Tom’s easy grace and calm humanity shone through. Working for the MCC when he was president I was able to see him at close quarters. He and chief executive Roger Knight brought the club out of the dark ages. The book pays proper tribute to that.
Tom was overwhelmed by the support on Monday. It was no more than he deserved. He epitomises the true spirit of the game.
Tom made his debut for Gloucestershire in 1948 against Oxford University. It was not a distinguished one. Keeping wicket for the university was W W Davidson, known to his many friends in the Cotswolds as Bill.
Living in retirement at Calmsden, Bill also played for Sussex but gave up a cricket career for the church. He is very good value on post-war first class cricket, having played with many Test cricketers. If you see Bill remind him of the fact he stumped both Tom Goddard and George Lambert. The bowler was A H Kardar who became a successful cricketer and administrator for cricket in Pakistan, where he was known as Abdul Hafeez.
We move from the cricketing Graveneys to another cricketing family who have much to celebrate, namely the Taylors of Great Tew. I know three generations of Taylors all of whom have contributed much to cricket in that beautiful area just over our county border. Two Taylors are on the professional staff at Bristol and the oldest brother Jack had a real setback to his career last season being reported for an illegal action and banned from bowling. His action has now been passed. Taylor family joy will have been unconfined, perhaps spreading as far as the excellent Falkland Arms.
There is one sad note. Former Gloucestershire captain and England off-spinner John Mortimore has died. John completed the double (100 wickets and 1,000 runs) three times and always gave good value. First to phone Bristol with a tribute was former England captain Mike Brearley. “John had a wry sense of humour, was philosophical, friendly and a very fine cricketer,” said Mike, getting things right as usual.
One matter that was far from right was the killing of a fox by hounds in a Chesterton street. No one can be pleased about what happened last week. It was a mistake and should not have happened and the hunting fraternity is clearly to blame. Prosecutions should follow but the law banning hunting is so unclear they may not.
With hounds running loose in the streets of Tetbury a few weeks ago and now this savage, public act there is a real need for the hunting fraternity to get things in order. Unsatisfactory legislation will not protect them forever.
Dorset was described as 'storm-ravaged' last weekend. To my astonishment Cirencester played a soccer match there, beating Wimborne and gaining a valuable three points.
Macclesfield never featured on the news at all yet Forest Green’s match was called off. Shopping resulted. Oh, dear!