Chesterfield Cricket Lovers' Society


Relatively few of The Society`s Guest Speakers during its 50 years of existence have been ladies and so it was with especial delight that, on Tuesday 12th March, we were able to welcome CALLY BARLOW, the widow of the distinguished former Derbyshire Captain and legendary South African Test Cricketer, Eddie Barlow. Cally told us that Queen`s Park had always been one of her husband`s favourite Cricket Grounds - statistics confirm that he played very successfully there - and it was some disappointment to him that when Mr. & Mrs Barlow decided to settle in UK after Eddie had been struck down by serious illness whilst acting as Coach to the Bangladesh Team, it was at a time when Derbyshire had removed the venue from its Home Fixture List.

Eddie (nicknamed "Bunter") had suffered from poor eyesight and it was after he had twice in one day knocked over the same policeman whilst riding his bicycle as a young school boy that the decision had to be taken to visit the optician. In later life Eddie had drawn up a list of highly successful bespectacled Test cricketers (including, of course, our most recent Guest Speaker, M J K Smith). In his early sporting days Mr. Barlow had sampled several sports and, before opting for a career in Cricket, had been good enough to play Rugby Union at Centre Three Quarter for Transvaal against the visiting British Lions and New Zealand All Blacks Teams. It had been Peter Walker, the Glamorgan & England Cricketer, who had encouraged him to take seriously to Cricket whilst carrying out a coaching engagement at Witswatersrand University.

Whilst with Derbyshire the Barlow family had lived in Wingerworth and had been invited to the then Derbyshire Chairman`s home for dinner. The two young children were ordered to be on "best behaviour" throughout the evening and simply to follow what their parents did. Mr. Barlow was offered a glass of wine, which he solemnly raised to his lips, sniffed and then drank. On cue, the two Barlow children raised their own (empty) glasses, sniffed and "drank". The faces of their parents were, apparently, an absolute picture!

In 1978 Eddie introduced to Derbyshire Peter Kirsten. Peter arrived at his first pre-Season training session (in late March) in shorts and a tee-shirt. His Captain advised him that conditions in Derby in late March were a far cry from those in Cape Town at the same time , but the new recruit was happy to proceed as he was. A couple of hours later he returned from the training run with icicles adorning the Kirsten moustache and he acknowledged to his skipper that a tracksuit would perhaps be more appropriate attire for tomorrow`s programme.

After the Break there was time for the Members to share with Cally their own reminiscences of her husband. It was believed that Eddie had first appeared at Queen`s Park as Vice Captain (to Peter van der Merwe) of the 1965 South African Tourists. This was the first of the "split tour" Seasons of the modern era and the South Africans` arrival in The Park, in late June, had been the opening fixture of the Tour. The second day of the match had been decreed by my School`s Headmaster as an official School holiday; Day three was declared by many of the pupils, as well as some staff, as an unofficial one. Our guest was also able to report to us on one or two former Derbyshire stalwarts who had settled in South Africa; Fred Swarbrook had taken up the post of Coach to Griqualand West in Kimberley; Phil Russell, who had served as the Head Groundsman at the Kingsmead Test Ground in Durban, was now happily retired over there.

A most enjoyable evening of pleasant reminiscences.

Cally was accompanied by former Derbyshire Chairman, Vic Brownett and Mrs Brownett, whilst our own Chairman for the evening (in David Marshall`s absence overseas) was Mike Taylor.

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