Stat king Davage delivers Norfolk CCC masterpiece

Statistician supreme Mike Davage has taken his legendary devotion to research to a new level with a book that is arguably the greatest ever 'who's who' on a cricket club.

Best known for his works on Norwich City FC, Mike has turned his talents to the cricket field with the definitive work on Norfolk County Cricket Club.

Ten-hour days have been the norm for over two-and-a-half years as Mike set about satisfying his monster appetite for facts, figures and knowledge.

And the result of his labour of love is his first cricket book – Knights in Whites, Major Men and Preachers and Teachers, which is published next month.

The epic tome features all 784 players who have turned out for the county from 1876 to the present day.

Like a detective determined to crack a case, Mike has interviewed almost every living player (there are 56 aged over 70) and traced families of almost every player to have appeared during an incredible journey.

'I set myself a really difficult task. Now it is finished I am feeling really frazzled but chuffed,' said Mike, 65. 'I don't normally put my head above the parapet as I am not a salesman but it's by far the best thing I've ever done – I am absolutely thrilled with it.'

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He admitted: 'I've had to eat, drink and sleep it because there is no other way of doing it. When the book comes out you don't enjoy it because you have lived with it for so long – I must have read it 50 times. I'll be pleased it's out, though.'

Sporting all-rounder Mike embarked on his literary career to fill a void when his playing days ended.

'I played for Dulwich Hamlet at football in the Isthmian League, played hockey for Southampton University and played cricket for Southend in the Essex Senior League. I was a medium-paced bowler.

'Once I had stopped playing I needed something else to take its place. My three sporting loves are cricket, baseball and football in that order,' said Mike, a retired assistant vice-president for an American insurance company.

A historian and genealogist who has been acknowledged for his help with over 100 books, Southampton football fan Mike co-wrote Canary Citizens and followed this with Glorious Canaries.

Now Norfolk County CC has come under the Old Catton-based Hampshire cricket supporter's high-powered microscope.

All championship, cup and first team friendly appearances have been incorporated into a fascinating book. There are potted biographies of players from all walks of life including the aristocracy, war heroes, clergymen and players with royal connections.

One entry reveals, among other things, that Archibald Cozens-Hardy, editor of the Eastern Daily Press from 1897 to 1937, scored seven for Norfolk against MCC at Lakenham in June 1888.

Norfolk was a founding member of the Minor Counties Championship and has won the title five times, including two shared. The first championship in 1895 was shared with Durham and Worcestershire before outright wins in 1905, 1910 and 1913. The most recent success was a shared title with Herefordshire in 2002.

Norfolk has won the MCCA Knockout Trophy a record five times (1986, 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009) since its inception in 1983.

The book can be pre-ordered at a cost of �12.99 from Breckland Print, Haverscroft Industrial Estate, New Road, Attleborough NR17 1YE. Phone Alison Harper 01953 454699. When available in shops it will cost �15.99.