Capel and District XI vs. London Counties XI - played Saturday May 9th 1942
The London Counties side was formed after the outbreak of war and allowed County cricketers to continue playing on an ad-hoc basis after cancellation of the County Championship in 1940. Their home games were played at Lords so a visit to Capel by this distinguished team was a huge honour and occasion for the host club.
All of the players therefore participating in the match held on Five Oak Green Recreation ground on May 9th 1942 had played at County level and included some who had, or would go on to, also play for England. Profiles of these cricketers are provided below:
CAPEL and DISTRICT XI
The Capel team on the day was a 'Capel and District XI' as it was bolstered by the inclusion of three Kent County players.
Peter Sunnucks played for Kent between 1934 and 1946 as a right-handed batsman and often appeared as an opener. He played quite regularly for Kent's first team in the period from 1936 to 1938, playing in 20 matches in 1937 when he made his only first-class century, an innings of 162 against Nottinghamshire spread across six-and-a-half hours and containing 21 fours. In 1938, Sunnucks set a so-far unequalled record of two double-century opening partnerships in one match with Arthur Faggs in the game against Essex. Sunnucks played in only a few matches in the 1939 season and his career ended after the War.
C. H. Knott
Charles Harold Knott (known as John Knott) played for Oxford University and Kent County Cricket Club as an amateur, making a total of 136 first-class cricket appearances during his career. He was noted as being a powerful batsman with a classic drive.
Knott attended Tonbridge School and made his first-class cricket debut for Kent in 1921 after completing school, appearing in a County Championship game against Nottinghamshire. He attended Oxford University and played in three varsity matches. He continued playing for Kent during his years at university before becoming a teacher at Tonbridge where he was master-in-charge of cricket, coaching, amongst others, future Kent and England great Colin Cowdrey.
Knott played for Kent mainly during the school holidays when not working. His brother, Freddie, also played cricket for Kent before World War I.
H. W. V. Levett
William Howard Vincent "Hopper" Levett played as a wicketkeeper for Kent County Cricket Club between 1930 and 1947. He played in one Test match in 1934. His nickname comes from the fact that he came from a family of traditional gentleman Kentish farmers that owned hop farms.
LONDON COUNTIES XI
F. S. Lee
Frank Stanley Lee was a reliable but often slow scoring left-handed opening batsman. He played two matches for Middlesex in 1925, but unable to hold down a place in the side he moved to Somerset in 1929 where he became a regular from 1933 until he retired after the 1947 season.
His best batting year was 1938, when he scored 2,019 runs at an average of 44.86. He bowled only occasionally but once took 5 for 53 in 1933. For several seasons he acted as reserve wicketkeeper if the regular Somerset keeper was absent.
Lee joined the first-class umpires' list in 1948 and a year later stood in the first of 29 Test matches. Lee officiated in Tests until the end of the 1962 season and retired from umpiring in first-class matches at the end of the 1963 season.
W. F. Price
Wilfred Frederick "Fred" Frank Price played for Middlesex from 1926 to 1947. Price also umpired from 1950 to 1967. He played in one Test match and officiated as an umpire in eight.
Price was a wicketkeeper who took 648 catches and 316 stumpings in his first-class career. He was named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1940.
Price's reputation as an umpire was as someone who would stand up strongly for what he felt was right. On one notable occasion, he lay down at square-leg and refused to get up until barracking at a Surrey-Yorkshire game had stopped.
Leslie Harry Compton enjoyed a dual professional sporting career playing football for Arsenal and cricket for Middlesex. He gained two England caps late in his football career and remains the oldest outfield player to debut for England at 38 years and 64 days. His brother, Denis, was also a footballer and cricketer for Arsenal and Middlesex, though Leslie was more successful in football and Denis in cricket.
Leslie Compton played for Middlesex from 1938 to 1956 and as well as batting, often played as wicketkeeper. He appeared 272 times, scoring 5,814 runs (at an average of 16.75), and taking 468 catches and 131 stumpings for the county. Together with his brother, he won the 1947 County Championship title with Middlesex, making them the only brothers ever to have won the national title both in football and cricket.
Compton's Arsenal career began in 1932 and ran until 1952. A defender, he won a Charity Shield winners' medal in 1939, playing 19 times that season. After the war he became a regular in the Arsenal side at centre half. Compton went on to win the FA Cup in 1950, with his brother Denis, and followed that with selection for England.
Jack O'Connor played for Essex and was selected in four Tests from 1929 to 1930.
He was a regular in the Essex county side between the Wars, scoring 1,000 runs a season 16 times. He scored 72 centuries in his career which included one against every other county and university side.
Bowling a mix of leg and off spin, O'Connor took 557 wickets, including 93 in 1926. He played one Test against South Africa in 1929 and followed that in the winter with three more in a tour of the West Indies. After retiring from the first-class game, he coached at Eton.
Joseph Harold Anthony Hulme was, like Leslie Compton, both a professional cricketer and footballer.
Hulme was an all-rounder, playing 225 times for Middlesex between 1929 and 1939 as an aggressive middle-order batsman and medium-fast bowler. Capped by Middlesex in 1930, he scored his first century that year and first passed 1,000 runs for the season in 1932, and in 1934 made his highest aggregate, 1,258 runs at 34.94, including four hundreds. He was known as an excellent fielder in the deep and a fast runner between the wickets. In 225 matches he made 8,103 runs at an average of 26.56. He was also a medium-pace bowler and took 89 wickets at 36.40, with a career best of 4 for 44, and he held 110 catches.
His professional football career began at Blackburn Rovers in 1924 before transfer to Arsenal two years later. Known for his pace and ball control as a winger, Hulme spent twelve years at Arsenal and became part of the great Arsenal side of the 1930s that won four league titles and two FA Cups. He made his England debut against Scotland at Hampden Park in 1927 and played nine times in all for England.
After World War II, which he spent working as a policeman, Hulme became manager of Arsenal's North London rivals, Tottenham Hotspur from 1945 to 1949. After that, Hulme left football to become a successful journalist.
J. W. Lee
John William Lee played for Middlesex and then Somerset from 1925 to 1936 playing regularly for them from 1927. He was an all-rounder, scoring six centuries and taking ten wickets in a match on two occasions by the end of his career. After the 1935 season Lee became head cricket coach at Mill Hill School in north London. He played little for his county side from then and did not participate in first-class cricket after 1936.
During the Second World War, Lee joined the British Army serving with the Pioneer Corps, a specialist combatant group involved in light engineering tasks. On 20 June 1944, a fortnight after D-Day, he was killed in France during the invasion of Normandy. When the London Counties side closed on the resumption of the County Championship in 1946, the club's remaining funds were given to his widow.
A. E. Watt
Alan Edward Watt was a fast-medium bowler and aggressive lower-order batsman well-known for hitting sixes. Watt made 230 appearances in first-class cricket mostly for Kent and took 108 wickets in the 1937 season. Later in life he became the landlord of the Star Inn at Matfield.
F. A. Hawkins
Frederick Albert Hawkins was an amateur batsman who played twice for Middlesex in August 1927.
John Albert Young played for Middlesex and England in a first-class cricket career that spanned from 1933 to 1956.
He was an accurate slow left-arm spin bowler who rose to prominence at Middlesex after the War. In 1947, he took more than 150 wickets as Middlesex won the County Championship, and repeated that two years later when the Championship was shared with Yorkshire. He also took more than 150 wickets in 1951 and 1952. When he retired following injury after just three matches in the 1956 season, he had taken more than 1,300 wickets in ten seasons at an average of less than 20 runs per wicket.
Young played Test cricket for England eight times between 1947 and 1949, but took only 17 wickets in those games. Always a reliable and economic bowler, he bowled eleven consecutive maiden overs on his home Test debut against the 1948 Australian side which included Don Bradman. In total, he took 1,182 wickets for Middlesex.
Alfred Richard Gover was a fast bowler for Surrey and played in four Tests either side of the War. He also founded and ran a cricket school in Wandsworth that coached many notable players.
After starting with Essex, Gover joined Surrey in 1928 but did not establish himself permanently until 1930. In 1933 he took 98 County Championship wickets. His strong build of 188 cm (6 feet 2 inches) and 87 kg (13 stone 10 pounds) was also combined with a tireless work rate which helped on the notoriously batting-friendly Oval wicket of the time.
In 1936 Gover took 171 County Championship wickets and played for England against India. In the following year, he took 201 wickets which is a record wicket haul by a fast bowler in a season. Gover was injured on a winter tour of India which ended his run of outstanding form and the outbreak of war meant his career did not resume until 1946 when he was picked again for another Test. The next year he decided to retire from first-class cricket and concentrate on his cricket school which he had opened in 1938.
In the following years Gover coached future Test cricketers including Frank Tyson, Viv Richards, Andy Roberts and Ian Bishop. Gover was President of the Lord's Taverners in 1974, President of Surrey for 1980 and awarded an MBE in 1998.
P. F. Judge
Peter Francis Judge was a right-arm fast-medium bowler and played for Middlesex and Glamorgan. In a career spanning 14 years, he appeared in 68 first-class matches. He is noted in cricket history for having recorded the fastest pair ever, at Cardiff Arms Park against the visiting Indians in 1946. He was dismissed by two consecutive balls within the space of a minute, when his captain decided to reverse the batting order, having been forced to follow on.
Capel Cricket Club
When Capel Cricket Club reformed in 2011, a celebration was held a year later to mark the re-opening of the Club's pavilion in the same month as the London Counties game was played seventy years earlier. Special guests included Kent and England's Derek Underwood and Ray Bousfield who played in the 1942 match for Capel.
Follow this link if you are interested in finding out more about Capel Cricket Club https://www.capelcricket.co.uk/