INSIGHTS: Agatha Christie & Cricket
Updated: Aug 5
There are many ardent fans of Agatha Christie and cricket - just not commonly in the same group. Both groups also have a robust and thriving collectors market - many participants quite fervent in their passion! However, there are few places where these worlds overlap.
Agatha Christie (nee Miller) enjoyed the game throughout her life, but her interest began at a young age. Her father, Frederick Miller, was a member of the Barton Cricket Club in Torquay. Not only was he a player, but often scored for the team and also served as club President for many years. Agatha usually accompanied her father on Saturday mornings during the cricket season to watch him play or just sit at the table and score the matches.
"I was extremely proud of being able to help my father with the scoring and took it very seriously" - Agatha Christie.
Agatha Christie's time at the club as a young spectator resulted in the large oak tree there becoming known as the 'Agatha Christie Oak' - a tree she was known to have sat under on the days her father played so she could enjoy watching him. While the tree sadly died in 2018, its memory lives on as the logo for the club.
Christie's enjoyment of cricket was obviously instilled in her grandson, Mathew. When he attended Eton and was chosen to lead the Eton First XI team at Lord’s, she declared it to be one of the happiest days of her life.
The Agatha Christie Under-19 Test Series:
Her love for cricket was memorialized after her death in January 1976 through Agatha Christie Ltd sponsoring the visit of the England Young Cricketers to the West Indies in 1976. Players on that youth team include Allot, Athey, Downton, Gatting and Gower - all who subsequently played for England at the senior level. As a result of the sponsorship this tour became known as the "Agatha Christie Under-19 Test Series".
Sponsorship continued with the 1978 Under-19 West Indies Cricket Team's tour of England from 12 July to 23 August 1978 (programme image at the top of the page). While there are some who speculate that Christie made provisions in her Will for this sponsorship, the public record of the Will does not show this. The more likely answer is that Mathew Prichard, a keen cricketer and fan, found this a moving tribute to his grandmother's love of the sport.
"My grandmother, Agatha Christie, would have heartily approved of young people being given the opportunity of using their talents and bettering themselves in a way that can do nothing but good for themselves and their countries" - Mathew Prichard, 1978.
In 1980, sponsorship was again provided to take England's Young Cricketers to the Caribbean - though this trip was in the winter.
Agatha Christie Ltd continued sponsorship of the tour in 1982 when it ran from late July until early September. This now marked the fourth year that they sponsored the tour. The programme again contained a message written by Mathew Prichard.
Of note, the programme for this tour also had an advertisement for the new film "Evil Under the Sun" featuring Peter Ustinov which had been released earlier in the year.
There are a variety of items related to Christie and cricket that periodically show up for sale. Whether historic items related to Barton Cricket Club, her father's time there, or the 1976, 1978, 1980 and 1982 sponsored series. Items are still affordable but are hard to find. However, they are unique collectibles that remind us of Christie's interest in sport and her connection with her father.