The genesis of the Wiltshire Queries lies in the County Under 19 sides of 1931 and 1932. These sides were particularly happy ones. They played their cricket seriously and had a nucleus of good players, but above all they had a capacity for good fun and enjoyment.
At the end of the 1932 season, they realised that as most of them were going on to further education or work locally, they would be available in August and September for the next 3 years. So on December 27th 1932 a group met at the Bath Arms in Warminster to discuss the idea of forming a Club to play other Clubs and village sides all over the County during the school holidays. A little research had shown that there were also a number of young cricketers who, while not being up to “under 19” standard, were very keen to play holiday cricket. The group decided to go ahead and form a club, but first felt that they should agree briefly what traditions they wished to establish and choose someone to be Captain for all matches to make sure that these aspirations were achieved. Michael Llewellyn, the most successful captain of the under 19’s declined the captaincy and James Wort was selected instead.
The guidelines agreed informally and conversationally were simple. Cricket should be enjoyable and fun; that the process of playing was to be carried out seriously; that as far as was possible, no-one would go home without having had a chance to bat, bowl or keep wicket; that no-one playing would ever feel “left out” off the field; that dull draws must be avoided at all costs; and that those who played for or against the Club would want to do so again the following season.
A fixture list of 9 matches was arranged, of varying standards so that the less good players would have their chance. The name “Queries” was stolen from a scratch schoolboy side at Salisbury which no longer operated and who themselves had stolen it from a touring side of 11 players all with the same name.
On August Bank Holiday 1933 the Queries took the field against a strong Winterbourne Gunner side and with a score of 284 for 6 declared, it was clear that the Queries meant business. They went on to finish the season undefeated.
From the start everyone seemed to enjoy playing for or against the Queries. The age limit of 21 was soon forgotten and the fixture list contained strong opponents. The real break occurred when the County, who for many years had been running two-day Club and Ground matches, and to give experience of this sort to potential County players, asked the Queries to take over this role in return for some financial assistance to cover the more expensive two-day cricket. This saved the County a lot of money, and it also enabled the Queries to shed their ill-chosen blue and red colours and don the white and green as “Wiltshire Queries” with a status similar to that of the Gloucester Gypsies, the Dorset Rangers and the Hampshire Hogs.
From then on various additions have been made to the fixture list which, by 1960 had become a full season programme.
As to the administration of the Club, it is an undeniable fact that the Queries have no written Constitution or Rules. Tradition has it that the only original rule was that all members should be under 21 but that was speedily annulled to allow FNS Creek, the distinguished England and Corinthian footballer to become a member when he was appointed to a teaching post at Dauntsey’s School in Wiltshire. It is a fact that the Honorary Treasurers who have served the Club so well accepted the office on the explicit understanding that any demand for an audited account would mean their immediate resignation.
It is also said that Dick Hurn, now the President of the Club, on visiting his Post Office with a view to opening an account for the Club was told that unless he produced a list of rules for the Club, no account could be opened – whereupon he scribbled on the back of an envelope “No person suffering from persistent boils on the neck shall be eligible for membership”. The Post Office apparently found this acceptable and the Club funds were duly banked.
It is difficult to summarise those factors which differentiate the Wiltshire Queries from other Clubs but it would be cowardly not to attempt to do so:
1. The Club has always been open to the enthusiastic but modest member and the fixture list reflects this.
2. The ability to absorb members which other clubs have found ‘difficult’.
3. The awareness of the Captain’s duty to give everybody a chance especially the young and the hired assassin.
4. A disproportionate belief in the efficacy of joke bowling.
5. A reluctance to hold catches.
6. An unparalleled ability to rabbit when in a commanding position.
Every member will have his own special memories of Query matches, but surely the overall impression is one of enjoyment of play and player.