Scot author Barrie’s amateur cricket team consisted of 19th century literary greats

April 11th, 2010 - 12:46 pm ICT by ANI  

Edinburgh (Scotland), Apr.11 (ANI): An incredible true story has surfaced of a cricket team that was founded by Scottish author J M Barrie.

According to a report in The Scotsman, the team included some of the best-loved authors in literary history.

The new book about the amateur team, which was curiously named Allahakberries, included prominent 19th-century explorers, as well as Arthur Conan Doyle and A A Milne.

It took its name from what the players thought was African for “Heaven help us” - although it actually meant “god is great”.

“Heaven help us” was a reflection on their prospects of victory as a number of the players, who were the delight of Victorian and Edwardian England, were unsure of which side of the bat to use.

Tragically, what began on the village greens of Worcestershire and Kent was to end among the trenches and bomb craters of Flanders when a number of players lost their lives during the First World War.

Peter Pan’s First XI, a history of Barrie’s cricket team, is being published to mark the 150th anniversary of the author’s birth in Kirriemuir in Angus next month.

Kevin Telfer, the book’s author, said: “J M Barrie was the one who made this team so special. It was an unusual obsession for a Scotsman, but Barrie was fascinated by the English and with cricket.

Founded in September, 1887, when Barrie rounded up a group of friends to play against the village of Shere, near Guildford, it was not until everyone arrived at Waterloo Station that the extent of their ignorance of the sport was revealed.

Joseph Thomson, a geologist, naturalist and fellow Scot, arrived wearing pyjamas as a substitute for cricket whites while in the train carriage an animated discussion took place among several players as to which was the most suitable side of the bat to use while striking the ball.

When it came to picking teams, Barrie favoured personality over play.

“With regard to the married men, it was because I liked their wives, with the regard to the single men, it was for the oddity of their personal appearance,” he is quoted, as saying.

Their most successful player was Conan Doyle, who is believed to have constructed the name of his famous detective from two Nottinghamshire cricketers, Frank Shacklock and Mordecai Sherwin.

Doyle proved to be the exception as a tremendous batsman and fierce bowler.

The team’s final match was played on 13 October 1913 when Alan Alexander Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh played his first and only game, along with George Llewelyn Davies, one of the family of children who inspired Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.

Despite the trauma, Barrie never lost his love of cricket and one of his final acts was to purchase a new pavilion for the cricket club at Kirriemuir.

On the day he was presented with the freedom of the town the local team renamed themselves as the Allahakberries when playing against the West of Scotland. Yet it was clear that this was not the real team. They won. (ANI)

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