Robin Brodhurst, 1953-2023
Robin Brodhurst, who had a lasting and supportive link to Broadhalfpenny Down died last month at the age of 70.
After six years in the Army, Robin read History at London University and took a PGCE at Cambridge before setting out on a career as a schoolmaster teaching history. A bibliophile, always surrounded by books including his full set of Wisdens from which he could quote almost verbatim.
He was also a writer and in 2020 edited the letters, which were exchanged in the 1950s between Harry Altham and Sir Donald Bradman in Australia, into a fascinating short book. This was the era of “throw and drag” - bowlers with bent arms being regularly no-balled by umpires and the back foot no-ball law which was impossible for umpires to adjudicate. The letters attempted to resolve disagreements between the then two major Test countries about how the laws should be adapted, for at one stage the heated debate threatened the cancellation of the Ashes series in England in 1961.
As we now know the front foot law was introduced in 1963 but little changed for some years on the subject of throwing. The ICC took until 2005 to reach a universal agreement on the degree of elbow extension. Robin's book contained a foreword by Bob Barber (England, Lancashire, and Warwickshire) for who whom as a schoolboy at Ruthin School, Harry Altham was a mentor and introduced Bob to Broadhalfpenny Down during cricket coaching at Winchester.
As well as playing on the ground several times in the past, Robin had an enduring family relationship with Broadhalfpenny and cricket. Robin's father was a well-known Winchester College master, Arthur (Podge) Brodhurst (an amateur player for Gloucester) who, in turn, was the son-in-law of Harry Altham who played for Hampshire and Surrey. Harry was not only a master at Winchester, cricket historian, first class player himself (Surrey and Hampshire), but Treasurer of MCC, later becoming it’s President, and also Chairman of the Imperial Cricket Conference (now the International Cricket Council). He was also Chairman of selectors in the 1950s and chose the team to Australia in 1954/55 which co
mprehensively won the Ashes. Harry was also the driving force in ensuring that cricket returned permanently to Broadhalfpenny Down in the 1950s which led to the formation of the Brigands CC in 1959. Whilst Robin was not as successful at cricket as his antecedents he played with just as much enjoyment throughout his life.
Robin was a great enthusiast, gregarious, and a regular attendee at the Hambledon Club lunches at the Bat and Ball Inn where his convivial cricket conversation will be much missed.