Recently I heard from Nick, our local French builder (via
Blackburn), that cricket was coming to our local town, La Roche Posay.
The plan is to create a pitch at the local hippodrome. The town website had an announcement that at 14.00 hours on 27th May 2012 cricket was coming to the town. It said that the site was ideal for the pitch and it could use the facilities already in place such as easy parking, changing rooms and the use of a grandstand. The opening event was a match for Poitou Cricket Club (formed in 2011) with the Samur Club. Nick had also heard that they further hoped to establish a national training centre there (unconfirmed).
Having caught my attention I decided to do some research into the present standing of cricket in
France. According to France Cricket, the French governing body, there are some 69 registered clubs in France with some 850 registered players. Interestingly over half of the registered players are French with no expat or commonwealth connection. They are presently ranked 49th in the world but this did not stop, in 2001, their under 17 team winning the World ICC Championship in Corfu. They are also the reigning Olympic Silver Medallists, more of that later.
When the ICC sold world broadcasting rights recently, they allocated some $300K to the development of the game in
France. Progress has been made by being able to incorporate the game into the national curriculum for primary schools in the Haut Vienne Dept. They further hope to expand this into the Nord Dept in September 2012. This of course is the indoor softball version, but the advent of 20/20 and the other shorter versions of the game are within the sights of the National Governing Organisation. I think the full test match format may prove too much. It is likely that our French cousins will fail to understand how you can play for 5 days for an honourable draw.
There is a document in the French National Archives from 1458 which mentions "Le Criquet”. Horror of horrors does this mean the game was invented in
France? The game mentioned also records the death of a player, but as the match was played near Calais, it is highly likely that it was played by the English. There are other historical French cricket records available such as the proposed MCC tour of France being called off in 1798 because of the Revolution, and there are also records of a match, in 1860, between the Paris Cricket Club and a team called Warwickshire Knickerbockers!
The Olympic Gold Medal Match was a 12 aside match against
Great Britain held at Vincennes, outside Paris, in 1900. After close first innings scores, the French collapsed to 27 all out in the second innings. The match was largely irrelevant as the only two other teams in the competition, Belgium and Holland, had already withdrawn. Cricket has not appeared in the games since.
The Daily Mail in typical style has offered likely translations for our French cousins:
Leg Before Wicket (LBW) Jambe Devant Guichet (JDG)
Silly Mid Off Milieu fou
Sticky Wicket Wicket gluant
Maiden Over Fin de serie d’une jeune fille
Daisycutter Couper de marguerites
My mother could have hit that with a stick of rhubarb. Ma mere pourrait avoir frappe avec un baton de rhubarbe.
That’s just not cricker. Ce n’est pas le cricket
Owzat!!? Er… owzat!?
Poitou Cricket Club promise a full program of matches in 2013, until then we shall have to wait for the sound of le cuir sur le saule.