4 June 2010

Back nearly 100 years ago...

I'm continuing in the attempts to create a nice little (for the moment) cricketing library and the latest book that I'm reading is 'England v Australia 1912'. Pelham Warner's account of the 1912 Ashes despite the fact that he was in a hospital bed for most of it!

I'm not far in, but so far a number of players haven't been able to tour because of work commitments including the original captain, CB Fry. It's also clear that Warner is obsessed by the quality of the wickets (he ensures that he has an account from the groundsman for each match of how they've prepared the wicket) and the gate receipts at all matches (and therefore the amount that goes to the MCC).

George Gunn scored 50 against New South Wales but in doing so broke a bone is hand (he didn't retire hurt) and Warner remarks: "The accident was to some extend Gunn's own fault, as he went in without a left-hand glove, a foolish thing to do on a sticky wicket." But this paragraph about barracking really caught my attention:

"There was a good deal of 'barracking' at Gunn on the first day, the majority of the crowd apparently not realising that his hand was badly injured. The Sydney Daily Telegraph had the following comment to make on this: 'Gunn played for quite a time on Friday with a broken bone in his left hand. It of course gave him intense pain, the jar every time he made a stroke causing him to wince. To go on playing in the circumstances was undoubtedly plucky, but it was nevertheless foolish. But Gunn, no doubt, had the welfare of his side in mind, and thought it better to stay in, notwithstanding his injury, rather than to risk the loss of further wickets. While suffering from the disability mentioned, Gunn invariably raised his hand and shook it after making a stroke. Once he timed the ball exactly, and it went for four, and, as he had not been jarred by the stroke, he did not shake his hand as usual. The was the signal for one onlooking fanatic. He jeered at Gunn, and in a loud voice referred to the batsman's omission. The action suggested the basest kind of cowardice, and a sympathetic cheer went up on Gunn's behalf. This and other incidents suggest that some drastic action should be taken by the authorities. If a looker-on in a theatrical performance expressed his dissent in the fashion followed by many who objected to the slow methods of the Englishmen on Friday he would be promptly ejected. An onlooker at a cricket match no doubt has certain privileges, but if he oversteps them he should be arrested for offensive behaviour, or anything which would be the means of preventing him from repeating his offence.'"

Now let's think about Twenty20 crowds:

I wonder what Pelham Warner and the Editor of The Sydney Daily Telegraph back in 1912 would have made of today's cricket?!?

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