THOSE that agree with the poet Edmund Blunden that "Cricket to us was more than play, it was worship in the sun," will rejoice that another season, that quintessence of an English summer, is underway.
These pictures of Black Country cricketers from around 60 years ago have come to us from Bernard Francis of Walsall.
The first picture shows the works team that Bernard played for in the 1950s. He was a draughtsman for Thompson Brothers of Bilston, and the photograph was taken on July 21, 1951 at Alveley in Shropshire.
Bernard has provided us with all the names of the players. On the back row from left are, Alf Mills, Stan Cox, Fred Daniels, J. (Sonjie) Evans, Bernard Francis, Bill Cooper and Sid Abbotts. The three players seated on the bench are Wally Sharman, Bert Hayward and J. Homfray and the three sitting on the ground are Albert "Nobby" Clark, Jack Shakespeare and Ron Mansell.
The second photograph was taken a few years later in 1954 and shows a team got up by Rev E.H, Tutt, vicar of St Mary's Church, Bilston. The vicar knew Bernard played cricket and asked him to take part in a match against the Bilston police.
Unfortunately, Bernard cannot remember all of the players' names but from left we have Ron Hutton, unknown, J. Evans, R. Bird, Bernard Francis, unknown, unknown, Rev E.H. Tutt, unknown, unknown.
Can you supply any of the missing names? Do you remember either of these teams from the 1950s? Have you any stories of pictures of other Black Country cricket teams from days gone by? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at 41 High Street, Cradley Heath, B64 5HL.