Saturday, 13 June 2020

Picturing cricket in Old Buckenham

Cricketer artist Jack Russell and our village heritage
While no matches have been played at the Horry Panks Cricket Ground so far this year, encouraging signs of life emerged in June, notably with a second visit to the ground by celebrated cricketer-turned-artist Jack Russell.
The former England wicket-keeper, who played in 94 international matches including many doughty battles against the Australians, is fascinated by the story of the 1921 game. The so-called “Private Test Match” between a strong England team and the formidable Aussie touring side of the day was arranged by Lionel Robinson and his cricket manager, ex-England captain Archie MacLaren. The latter lived in Old Buckenham for about 10 years under Robinson’s patronage. 
Jack Russell at OBCC in June 2020
Hobbs and Knight open an innings for Robinson's XI
Self-taught, Jack Russell is now one of the UK’s best-known contemporary artists, specially renowned for his cricket pictures. He first came to Old Buckenham last year to do a painting of the present-day players in the picturesque cricketing arena. At the time, he was unaware of the ground’s history and the most prestigious cricket match ever to take place in Norfolk. 
A photograph that came to light a few years ago in a museum in Sydney of Jack Hobbs batting in the 1921 match caught his imagination. So now he has started work on recreating a panoramic scene that captures the elegance of Hobbs the batsmen, the spellbound spectators lining the boundary and the timeless beauty of the wooded backdrop.
Jack was back at the ground to sketch, photograph and work out perspectives and was struck by how little the overall setting has changed in 100 years.
His painting will be finished later in the year, well in time for the centenary celebrations of the match next May.

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