District Court v The Bar – A Well Fought Battle
Whilst historians remain divided as to the true origins of the majestic game now called cricket, the earliest recording of its existence is, unsurprisingly enough, due to the involvement of lawyers. In A History of Cricket, Volume 1 (to 1914), published in 1962, H.S. Altham refers to evidence given by Mr John Derrick, a Queen’s Coroner in the county of Surrey by way of a deposition given in 1598 in a case concerning the ownership of certain land brought by Guildford Royal Grammar School. Mr Derrick, was born in about 1538 and, at the age of 59, his testimony is recorded as:
“Being a scholler in the Ffree schoole of Guldeford, hee and diverse of his fellows did runne and play there at creckett and other plaies”.
Thus, thanks to this litigation, and in particular the work of the industrious counsel who led it, we can be confident that cricket in some form or another has been played since at least the mid sixteenth century.
Historians, it seems, have not been as interested in trying to pinpoint the earliest match between lawyers; probably because no one cares.
And yet, on 5 March this year a cricket match for the ages was played between the Bar and Judges (or partners as the case may be) in pursuit of the glory of the Chief Judge’s Cup.
The origins of this match can be traced all the way back to 2021 when Porter KC DCJ threw down the judicial gauntlet to the Bar, reckoning his band of crack judicial professionals would destroy all comers. Whilst the result of the match seems to have been lost to the annals of history, there remains amongst the Bar and Judiciary a measure of conflict as to who had the measure of whom. Flooding intervened in 2022 to prevent a rematch, and so the battle lines were redrawn in 2023 at the University of Queensland grounds.
Following a heavy off-season recruitment drive, the judges arrived with a team that included Lynch KC DCJ, Don McKenzie (QLD Coroner), Rangiah J, Cash KC DCJ, Long KC DCJ, Porter KC DCJ; Crowley J; Muir DCJ (at the time, herein Muir J), Chowdhury DCJ, Magistrate C McKenzie and some judicial spouses (Kefford DCJ and Loury KC DCJ).
The Bar batted first and faced a barrage of pace with Porter KC DCJ taking the new ball from the southern end and Crowley J from the north. The Bar was soon under pressure with the wily line and length of Porter KC DCJ catching the early pole of Messina, LBW. Whilst the Bar lamented the absence of DRS, the umpire, Johnstone had no doubt his chambers colleague was gone; that is until he remembered he had nothing on the judge’s list. No such controversy ensued from the other end. With Crowley J at times unplayable, the umpire, retired Chief Judge O’Brien, had little to do but admire the neat glovework of Muir J behind the stumps, who at one stage called for a second set of inners, such was the pace.
Nevertheless, as the pitch settled down, Shaw and Penrose set about building the score posting 45 (retired) and 44 respectively. Drysdale KC and Roney KC also contributed with the bat as did O’Sullivan (16*) with some decent hitting at the end setting up a chase of 119. For the judges, McKenzie took 1 wicket with his leg spin, and Lunch KC DCJ took 2 wickets at the end.
Lynch KC DCJ opened with Don McKenzie and whilst McKenzie fell early to a stellar spell from O’Sullivan who finished with figures of 3 for 10 from 4 overs (all bowled); Lynch KC DCJ anchored the innings in such a manner that it was only self-sacrifice that saw him depart, retired on 46. Unfortunately, by the time the Crowley J came to the crease (22* (13 of which from the 1 Skoien over)), helped by Kefford DCJ (according to the scorebook, but in fact husband Chris, 8*), the run rate was too high to chase, and the Judges fell 26 runs short.
For the Bar, special mention should also go to C Matthews (captain) and Katter, each of whom backed up from the earlier match played that day against the students from the TC Beirne School of Law (the Suri Ratnapala Cup), and Pezet who contributed with the ball.
Thanks also to Brewer and Jackson for scoring, the families who attended and the Chief Judge for attending and presenting the cup.
This is an important match in the social calendar for the profession, played in great spirit and fun. Members who are interested in playing are encouraged to make themselves available for selection next year.