By Charles Randall
3 May 2013
In 1789 the MCC had their first official tour of France cancelled due to the French Revolution -- which must have been very annoying -- but they have made the trip many times since the guillotine and they cross the Channel again this weekend for a six-match tour in Paris under the captaincy of Fraser Stewart, of Barnes CC.
Surprisingly there are records to suggest that some form of cricket has been played in France since 1478, and MCC touring sides visited regularly for matches in the mid-1800s onwards. Last summer during the 2012 Olympic Games build-up, and to celebrate cricket’s only Olympics appearance in Paris in 1900 – when France won the silver medal – an MCC side played two matches against France, winning a Twenty20 fixture by 34 runs and drawing another contest.
The former Dorset batsman Stewart, 39, has the support of ex-Surrey and Nottinghamshire left-hander Darren Bicknell as manager and leads a useful side, including two players from Farnham Royal CC in Oliver Claysdon and Ed Packard. Extra knowledge of the opposition could be supplied by Jonathan Riches, a leading member of the Standard Athletic Club for several years.
MCC visited France in August 2005 when they assisted with the development of the playing facilities at Standard Athletic Club in Meudon and at Dreux CC in a six-match tour. The 2013 party will be sampling these facilities again the second and third fixtures of the tour on the 7th and 8th of May respectively.
The MCC toured the Cayman Islands recently and visit France, Cyprus, Uganda and Rwanda in 2013 as part of their stated commitment to increasing cricket's appeal worldwide. MCC head of cricket John Stephenson said: "Similar to MCC, cricket in France has a long history, and I hope that this tour will contribute to the growing identity of France within the international cricketing community. I am absolutely delighted that the club can continue to support the development of cricket across the nation.
Itinerary in France:
Sunday 5 May: Association des Clubs de Cricket du Sud-Ouest (30 overs, Château Giscours).
Tuesday 7 May: Standard Athletic Club (40 overs, Meudon).
Wednesday 8 May: Dreux CC (40 overs, Dreux)
Thursday 9 May: Equipe De France 20 overs, Vincennes).
Thursday 9 May: Paris Universite Club (20 overs, Vincennes).
Friday 10 May: Equipe De France (20 overs, Vincennes).
MCC tour party:
Fraser Stewart (capt, Barnes CC)
Naseer Chohan (Wraysbury CC)
Andrew Clague (East Lancashire CC)
Oliver Claysdon (Farnham Royal CC)
Thomas Goodworth (Sevenoaks Vine CC)
Jeremy Green (Preston Nomads CC)
Alexander Griffiths (Richmond CC)
Peter O’Donnell (Leinster CC)
Ed Packard (Farnham Royal CC)
Jonathan Riches (Standard Athletic Club)
David Wigley (Old Northamptonians CC)
Andrew Wilson (Kendal CC)
Manager: Darren Bicknell
Umpire: Bob McLeod