by Jon Batham and Ben Kosky
MIDDLESEX CCC THE CHAMPIONSHIP YEARS
On October 2nd 1873 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, a new-born son became the 21st and last child of lawyer Charles Warner and his Spanish wife, Rosa Cadiz.
That little boy, Pelham Francis Warner, would prove no runt of the litter. 150 years on, history shows his birth on a Caribbean island thousands of miles away from British shores had a seismic impact on the history of English cricket and Middlesex CCC in particular.
Warner travelled to England aged just 13 in the wake of his father’s death and donned the Seaxes’ whites in 1894 while still at Oriel College Oxford, where he was first dubbed ‘Plum,’ a nickname which stuck with him from then on.
His Middlesex debut was inauspicious, scores of six and four, yet nine years on he would be pivotal to Middlesex’s first ever County Championship title in 1903.
He led a successful Ashes tour that winter and despite several severe bouts of ill-health and losing five years of his career to the Great War, Warner endured to skipper Middlesex to their second Championship triumph in 1920, secured with a thrilling last-day win over Surrey.
By then, almost 30,000 elegant runs had flowed from his bat, yet retirement didn’t signal an end to his love of the game as he became an influential administrator both for Middlesex and England, not to mention journalist and author, knighted for his services to the game in 1937.
Warner’s adventures, which also included managing the ‘Bodyline’ tour to Australia in 1932-3, are chronicled as part of Middlesex CCC The Championship Years by Jon Batham and Ben Kosky.
The authors’ musings include part of Wisden’s citation to Warner on naming him one of their five cricketers of the year in 1904. It reads: ‘A more enthusiastic player it would be impossible to find anywhere. Cricket, if one may be permitted the expression, is the very breath of his nostrils. When our season is over, his greatest delight is to travel to some region in which the game is practicable during the winter months and few men have travelled so far or played in so many different parts of the world.’
Read more about Sir Pelham Warner and Middlesex’s 1903 and 1920 triumphs – plus the other 11 County Championship title wins in their illustrious history – by ordering your copy of the book now.