DateLine: 5th January 2020
By Arshad Chughtai
Tribute to Sir Winston Churchill: Rehearsal of Funeral Procession
Incidentally out of my sheer love for the game I had an opportunity to read a good number of books on cricket and on occasions I found some amazing stories regarding exceptional personages. These are just not remarkable but are also worth sharing with others.
One such story is related to Duke of Norfolk and his love for Sir Winston Churchill.
The events recorded by Michael Colin Cowdrey, Baron Cowdrey of Tonbridge CBE in his autobiography, “MCC The Autobiography of a Cricketer” are historic and are of some indication how immensely the British people admire Sir Winston Churchill.
MC Cowdrey recalls in his book that Bernard Fitzalan-Howard, the 16th Duke of Norfolk was the manager of the touring MCC team to Australia in 1962-63. The tour matches commenced on 16th October 1962 and ended on 20th February 1963.
Ted Dexter was leading the 13th party of England Cricketers to go out to Australia under the banner of MCC. Other members of the team were Colin Cowdrey, Rev David Sheppard, Tom Graveney, Ken Barrington, Geoff Pullar, Peter Parfitt, Freddie Truman, Brian Statham, Len Coldwell, David Larter, Barry Knight, David Allen, Fred Titmus, Ray Illingworth, John Murray, Alan Smith and Alec Bedser was Assistant Manager.
Suddenly, amidst the tour the Duke left for home on the eve of the new year and Billy Griffith who was then Secretary of MCC was released form Lords for a few weeks to tide over this period. Incidentally, at that time the visiting team had a disappointing spell of cricket, the press implied criticism that perhaps the Duke had left home for some unscheduled leave with his family at Arundel.
The Sheffield Shield Champions, New South Wales, had defeated the visitors by an innings and 80 runs in their most important match prior to the first Test. Richie Benaud was unplayable, took 7 for 18 and the visitors were dismissed for paltry score of 104 in the second innings.
Later in the first Test at Brisbane the visitors had to fight out a draw on the final day, when at the end they were trailing by 99 runs and only 4 wickets were left.
Back home, what was the Duke doing?
Later, Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill died on 24th January 1965, was given a State Funeral and was the only commoner to receive this honor in the 20th Century. The funeral was the largest state funeral in world history up to that time.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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