Berkhamsted Cricket Club - Jennifer Booth Memories

 

Remembering Jenny Booth (1942 – 2020)

 

Berkhamsted Cricket Club offers the following memorial piece to remember Jenny Booth, who died at the end of last year aged 78.

With her husband Keith becoming a stalwart player for BCC, the Booths arrived at Berkhamsted from Leighton Buzzard in 1980 and were key parts of the club’s cricketing exploits for a full decade before moving to Sutton in 1989. Jenny settled in as Scorer for the 2nd XI, demonstrating a loyalty to ‘her team’ by staying in that role regardless of Keith stepping up to become a 1st XI regular.

Thereafter they went on to enjoy 1st-class and international success, with Keith joining Surrey CCC as Scorer from 1994 and Jenny becoming Surrey’s 2nd XI Scorer from 2004. After a string of memorable occasions at Surrey matches, England games staged at The Oval and on various international tours, Jenny and Keith retired from the scoreboxes at the end of season 2017 and were awarded Surrey CCC honorary caps and honorary life membership. The latter was also granted to Kumar Sangakkara, so they were in distinguished company for the honours.

Keith sends his best wishes to all Berkhamsted CC fellow-players and supporters from the 1980s, and has provided a large part of this profile of Jenny. His cricketing reminiscences are blended with further contributions from Craig Anderson, Richard Eames and Jon Griffin.

Here is a photo of Jenny, scorecard in hand, and Keith enjoying the great game of cricket while shaded from the Barbadian sunshine during BCC’s tour there in 1987.

  


 

Jenny first met Keith as undergraduates at the University of Reading, when he captained the University side and she was Scorer.  Keith recalls playing a pretty tedious innings comprising mostly dots and singles, whereupon Jenny threw the scorebook at him accompanied by ”You can add those up yourself!”

Returning to the start of the Booths’ decade at Berkhamsted, here is an extract from Cyril Hughes’ 2nd XI Captain’s report for 1980:

“The statistics for the season have been compiled by one of the most efficient scorers it has been my good fortune to meet, Jenny Booth. Not only is she a scorer extraordinaire but also a coach, non-playing skipper, critic, kit-carrier, team manager and press reporter."

…while Keith’s immediate impact on the field drew Cyril’s praise as follows:

"Also to be congratulated is Keith Booth, whose tenacity and consistency was rewarded with 85 wickets. He is the work-horse of the team, and took 5 wickets in an innings on no less than 5 occasions during this season."

Jenny would have had plenty of practice at writing the family name in the scorebook during Keith’s best bowling performance for Berkhamsted, a match at Radlett 2nd XI in 1981 when he took 9-29. Looking forward to a well-earned rest, Keith was then asked by Cyril to open the batting !

Keith is happy to describe Jenny as always being “feisty, spirited and someone who didn't suffer fools gladly (especially captains, umpires and fellow scorers)”.

One 'anecdote of legend' demonstrating Jenny's strong cricketing principles was an occasion when she disagreed with the captain during an away fixture at Sawbridgeworth and proceeded to pack up her scoring equipment, march off to the station and make her way home early by train, via King’s Cross and Euston !

On another occasion, Jenny was working completely on her own with a scorebook and scoreboard in a match with a very officious umpire (who had earlier insisted that Keith remove his towelling wristbands as they were distracting the batsmen, even though no objection had been raised) who complained that the scoreboard was not up to date.  The rejoinder “I've got ONE pair of hands!” was heard across the Cow Roast and beyond.

For an away match at Ickenham, Jenny's navigation efforts had first sent some of the players the wrong way down the M4 towards South Wales, Arriving with not much time to spare and the pitch looking a bit green, Keith opted to put the home team in and was rewarded by the opening batsmen of Hayward (later of Hampshire) and Jones (later of New Zealand) declaring at the fall of the first wicket at 270.

Keith captained Leighton Buzzard prior to the move to Berkhamsted, and his medium-pace skills are shown in this photograph from Lower Kings Road.

 

 

Berkhamsted won the Gazette Cup in 1981, and Keith skippered them to the Final in 1982, although they were defeated by Langleybury on that occasion.

BCC having gained great publicity from the ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams both having got through to the Final of the 1975 competition (in the Club’s centenary year), they proceeded to be drawn against each other in an early round of the 1983 Gazette Cup, which was a season played at the Cow Roast while the Kitchener’s Field ground was being completed.  Jenny thus took enormous pleasure from ‘her’ B team defeating the senior squad, David Perfrement clearing the Cow Roast hedge with great regularity in a match-winning innings.

The BCC tour to Barbados in 1987 was another memorable cricketing occasion for the Booths. In one particular match, with former England international Peter Willey playing for the host team, Keith slipped in his disguised ‘slower ball’ which was duly lofted straight to Steve Bateman to grab a famous scalp. Then, during Berkhamsted’s innings, Peter O’Toole faced Willey’s off-spin bowling and, after a few air shots for practice, got one in the middle of his bat. It was still rising when it hit a tree and brought down a branch !  At the end of a memorable tour, the suggested Gazette headline of ‘Booth gets Willey out’ was not taken up...

Jenny’s job as an archivist at the Tate Gallery in Pimlico made her one of the Club’s many regular rail commuters. Keith’s roles in university administration led him, towards the end of the 80s, to take a job at Durham University, so he played for Chester-le-Street while there and returned to represent Berkhamsted once a fortnight. After the 1989 season, Keith, Jenny and their two daughters bade Berkhamsted and the Club farewell and moved to Sutton.

Jenny certainly enjoyed her time with Surrey 2nd XI and delighted in the progress - many to international level - of then unknown youngsters : Jason Roy, the Curran brothers, Rory Burns, Ollie Pope (who was one of the first to send condolences to Keith when Jenny died), Dom Sibley, Zafar Ansari and Ben Foakes. Most of these were products of Graham Thorpe's time as 2nd XI coach, a position for which he was obviously over-qualified when moving straight from there to become England’s batting coach.

Between them, Keith and Jenny did the scoring duties at over 150 international matches, working together many times when the ICC required The Oval as host venue to provide both scorers.  True to form, Jenny gave short shrift in one match to the South African Manager's request that Shaun Pollock's no balls which went to the boundary should count one no ball and four byes rather than five no balls.  That would be the case now but it wasn't then, as Mr Pollock was duly informed.

This photograph of Surrey CCC shows Keith and Jenny, second from left and right respectively in the back row, ready for their penultimate season at The Oval.

 

During those years, Jenny did much of the research for a series of cricket books written by Keith which won a string of sporting awards. Surrey CCC’s fulsome tribute to Jenny can be read via :

https://www.kiaoval.com/main-news/jennifer-booth-1942-2020/ 

Her funeral was restricted to thirty mourners because of pandemic regulations, with Surrey's contingent headed by Director of Cricket Alec Stewart. Keith is planning to also have some kind of memorial service at The Oval later this year.

If you have further reminiscences of Jenny you could add to this Memorial, please email them to petedudley@aol.com