Since then we have been the Bar’s pre-eminent cricket club. We play at some of the loveliest grounds in England including Holkham Hall, Tilford, Sheffield Park, Parham House, Sandroyd School and Armoury House in London. A full and varied fixture list includes long standing rivalries with Tilford (now in its 80th year), the Law Society, the Australian Bar (in the form of the Wentworth Wombats), Castle Rising and the HAC, and newer ones with the likes of Chelsea Arts Club, Holkham Hall, East Woodhay and the Armadillos. Touring features prominently in the calendar, and in 2016 we are visiting Norfolk and Dorset. Recent tours have included Australia, Cornwall, Croatia, Jersey, Bordeaux and Porto.
Predominantly barristers, the odd ringer or two has been known to make an appearance, and we have a sprinkling of authors, film producers and some very talented teenagers to call upon. Our home-grown regular players include a former England Under 19 international (Anu Mohindru) at one end of the scale and a clutch of judicial sexagenarians on the other, with a range of talent and ability in between. But in general we encourage young barristers who have played a bit at school and university, and may now be playing league or club cricket, to turn out on (mainly) Sundays for competitive, but strictly amateur, wandering club cricket.
Our season traditionally begins with a dinner at the Garrick Club, and this year was no exception. Jason Gallian (formerly of Lancashire, Notts and England) and His Honour Judge Nigel Peters QC were our guests; Jason took part in a lively Q&A session moderated by Anu Mohindru, while Nigel Peters (a Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) committee member) gave an insightful look at corruption within the game and the steps MCC are taking to combat it. Previous speakers at the dinner have included three MCC Presidents (Lords Alexander and Griffiths and Sir Oliver Popplewell), Alvin Kallicharran, Peter Oborne and some distinguished members of the judiciary including Ward and Waller LJJ and Mostyn J.
On the field it would be fair to say that our cricket has improved out of all recognition in recent years. A Refreshers First XI today would be a match for any decent club side; the problem, as always with wandering cricket teams, is to get all of your best players onto the same pitch on the same day – not a feat we have yet managed. But among our ranks are a number of former West Indian island cricketers (including Owen Roach and John ‘the dentist’ Maynard, both of whom represented Monserrat), Rachel Godschalk (of the Northumberland women’s XI and our first regular woman player), two distinguished screenwriter/cricketers and more than 11 others who have scored a century within recent memory.
The Refreshers ‘youth policy’ governs the selection process these days, at least in theory, although the hardy annuals (including Lord Faulks, Paul Stewart, Charles Atkins, Keith Hornby, Oliver Wise and your correspondent) still make significant contributions from time to time – not least to post-prandial activities on tour.
Other clubs have represented the Bar of England and Wales over the years, the most recent being the BEWCC, a team that includes some decent players (some borrowed from the ranks of the Refreshers) which was formed to compete in the recently created ‘Lawyers World Cup’. Co-founder James Cartwright wrote an excellent account of their recent trip to Australia in the March edition of Counsel, in which he also expressed an intention to resurrect the Bar v Barristers’ Clerks fixture. This is entirely welcome, albeit that as a fixture it has not been as dormant for as long as he suggests – at least three current Refreshers played in the last incarnation of that game (Refreshers v Clerks) at the Oval in the early 1980s.
New players welcomed
As a club, the Refreshers welcomes any new player, young or old, who plays their sport within the Spirit of Cricket. Anyone reading this who is inspired to join us should contact Joe Cannon (Fixtures Secretary), Anu Mohindru (Captain elect) or myself (Club Captain). Full details, including a lengthy history of the club, details of the match managers and a few years of archived match reports may be found on our website. Our season, of 17 fixtures in all including two tours, began at Castle Rising in Norfolk on the May Day Bank Holiday weekend – a good start to the Refreshers 2016 campaign as we won our first match, bowling the opposition out for 142 and reaching 146 for 6 in plenty of time.
Contributor Philip Cayford QC, Refreshers Cricket Club Captain