The formation of Almondbury Casuals

In 2006 I attended a cricket evening class at The University of Huddersfield lead by Peter Davies and Rob Light. As my fellow students were die hard league men, I was the sole representative of friendly Sunday cricket. Whilst the question ‘What is the point of friendly cricket’ was never formally asked, I sensed it was an issue. It stimulated an interest in the origins of my own club, Almondbury Casuals, a nomadic cricket team based in The Holme Valley, Huddersfield, playing in and around West Yorkshire and North Derbyshire.

I was aware that the club was formed in the late 1940s or early 1950s, hiring Thurstonland cricket club for their home fixtures up to 1969. It seemed reasonable to concentrate on this era in order to try and answer the question for Almondbury Casuals and maybe other friendly clubs setting up just after The Second World War.

The wider issues in cricket during this time have been covered by Birley (Social History of Cricket). The broad picture was of an elite administration facing backwards to the golden age of the gifted amateur as opposed to progressive elements in league cricket and some of the counties who recognised that cricket, both playing and administering, needed to become more business orientated. Money making schemes like lotteries, raffles, gaming machines and specific events (for example benefit matches) supplemented revenue from subscriptions. Playing started to become a career option. Interest in results and statistics increased, perhaps at the expense of elegant playing standards.

Another important issue was access. Post-war, only 20% of boys, in public and grammar schools, were playing cricket. The elite administrators wanted to retain this exclusiveness to prevent ‘denaturing’ the game. Despite this, many new clubs, from for example villages and work started up. Coaching began. The Playing Field Association and English Schools Cricket were formed. Access to cricket expanded.

The information which helps to answer the question ‘What is the point of friendly cricket?’