Sir Michael Parkinson was the guest of honour as the Lord’s Taverners and the ECB celebrated the 2017 triumphs of Essex and Lancashire this week.
The broadcasting legend, and former Barnsley opener, attended in his role as President of the Lord’s Taverners – reflecting on his love of cricket in an interview with Chris Cowdrey, the former England captain who was his predecessor as President, and congratulating both teams.
After being crowned Specsavers County Champions last September, their first title since 1992, Essex received the gold Lord’s Taverners ECB Trophy from Colin Graves, the ECB chairman.
Carole Garner, the President of the Lady Taverners, then presented the Royal London Women’s One-Day Cup to the Lancashire captain Megan Fairclough.
The players of both teams were then presented with their medals, before the Essex players posed in the Warner Stand with the pennant which has been awarded to the county champions since 1951 – and which will now hang proudly at Chelmsford for the first time in 25 years.
Sir Michael had earlier presented the five winners of the ECB’s Domestic Cricket Journalism Awards with commemorative silver bats – after reflecting on the beginnings of his own career in local newspaper journalism, “covering chip fires in Oldham while the great Manchester Guardian cricket correspondent Neville Cardus was composing a theatre review”.
The journalism awards were introduced by the ECB in partnership with the Cricket Writers Club in 2011, and this year’s winners included two significant firsts: Isabelle Westbury, who became the first female winner of the Christopher Martin-Jenkins Domestic Cricket Broadcaster of the Year; and then Charlie Taylor of BBC Radio Somerset, who became the first broadcaster to win the Young Cricket Journalist of the Year, which is also named after CMJ.
After they both received their awards from Sir Michael, further presentations were made to The Times for Outstanding Newspaper Coverage of Domestic Cricket; BBC Online for Outstanding Online Coverage of Domestic Cricket; and to the Nottingham Post as Regional Newspaper of the Year, with that award presented to David Collier, the former chief executive of Nottinghamshire as well as the ECB, in the absence of their cricket writer Matt Davies.
Graves said: “It’s been a pleasure and a privilege as ECB Chairman to attend this special occasion at Lord’s.
“County cricket has been honoured to have our champions invited to Buckingham Palace to receive their medals from the Duke of Edinburgh, the patron of the Lord’s Taverners, since 1973.
“That era had to end when it was announced last May that His Royal Highness would not be carrying out public engagements from the autumn – fittingly, on a day when he was here at Lord’s.
“So congratulations and thanks are due to the Lord’s Taverners and everyone else involved in finding an equally fitting way to recognise the 2017 champions. Sir Michael Parkinson’s deep love of cricket is well-known, and I know the players of both Essex and Lancashire appreciated his presence at the event.
“Thanks also to Carole Garner, the President of the Lady Taverners, and to Graham Gooch for presenting the medals to the Essex players – and we were also pleased to welcome representatives of Specsavers and Royal London, in recognition of their support of our county competitions. They are great partners for the game.
“Sir Michael was also an ideal man to present the ECB Domestic Journalism Awards.
“County cricket journalism has suffered two sad losses in recent days, with the deaths of the former BBC Kent reporter Neil Bell, and the Yorkshire cricket correspondent Dave Callaghan. The amount of tributes to both these men has underlined again the superb coverage that county cricket receives from the BBC, and the genuine affection for the journalists and commentators who provide it.
“We at the ECB are consistently grateful for that, and we send our condolences to their families and friends. They will be missed and remembered in the forthcoming season.”