With the wedding between HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton taking place on April 29, 2011, it’s fitting to look back to the Royal Wedding of 1981 and events in the cricket world when William’s parents – HRH Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer – were married at St Paul’s Cathedral on July 29 of that year.
On that day, a fresh round of County Championship matches began – then staged over three days rather than four – with a trio of games starting at venues no longer on the county calendar, namely Southport, Hinckley and Stourbridge. But it was at one of the regular venues. Somerset’s headquarters at Taunton, where the best performance of the day took place as Javed Miandad, the great Pakistani batsman, made a scintillating 200 not out for Glamorgan who made 336 for 9 before declaring. In all, Javed struck 29 fours and a six and his audacious strokeplay drew many spectators out of the pavilion bar where they had congregated to catch a glimpse on television sets of events up in London.
Another fine overseas batsman – Glenn Turner – took centre-stage at Stourbridge as the Worcestershire captain plundered an unbeaten 161 against Northamptonshire, and all at the ground where the New Zealander had played club cricket as a youngster for just 15 shillings a game in the Birmingham League. Phil Neale also struck 125 as Worcestershire amassed 376 for 5 before declaring. There were plenty of runs at Hinckley as well, as Leicestershire posted 360 for 4 against Nottinghamshire with Chris Balderstone and John Steele each making hundreds as they shared an opening stand of 206, before Brian Davison also struck an unbeaten 123. Another Southern African, Ken McEwan, notched up 102 for Essex against Kent at Canterbury, whilst Warwickshire’s Phil Oliver made a hundred – his first in county cricket – against Yorkshire at Scarborough.
Elsewhere wickets tumbled, with Gloucestershire dramatically losing all ten wickets for just 27 runs in an action-packed opening session at Derby as the West Country side collapsed from 64 for 0 to 91 all out with seamers Paul Newman taking 4 for 11 and Colin Tunnicliffe 5 for 40. However, the bowling honours on Royal Wedding Day 1981 went to Simon Hughes, with the Middlesex paceman and now TME columnist taking a career-best 6 for 75 as Lancashire were dismissed for 244 at Southport.
In that summer of thirty years ago, Nottinghamshire won the County Championship while Essex lifted the Sunday League title, Somerset won the Benson and Hedges Cup and Derbyshire were crowned the winners of the NatWest Trophy, beating Northamptonshire in a closely-contested final at Lord’s.
The new year has already started with some coincidences with events in 1981 – the summer when a Middlesex opening batsman led England to Ashes success over Australia. So will Nottinghamshire emulate their achievements from thirty years ago by winning the Championship and retaining the county title, and will Somerset set aside their disappointments at being the bridesmaids of last season by again lifting a limited-overs trophy in 2011? Only time will tell, after William and Kate’s big day has taken place.