The Gentleman’s Game of Cricket

Rebecca Wilson a ‘sporting’ journalist for the Daily Telegraph stated recently about the
Gentleman’s pastime of cricket:

The game as it is played now is much, much tougher than before.  Bowlers consistently  deliver 130km/h balls six times an over.  Fieldsmen encounter missiles when they stand close to the wicket.

Now this demanded a response.

Dear Rebecca,

I respect your right to an opinion, that indeed is your role as a journalist, but!!!!

I have had the monumental pleasure of watching cricket since, but more importantly including, the Bradman era.

I have played many years of cricket, albeit without a great deal of success, however I certainly know what it was like to bat on a damp wicket when the sun comes out with balls rearing up off a good length breaking fingers or ribs or having your eye closed for weeks with internal bleeding.

My lifelong passion for cricket combined with the above are, I submit, sufficient credentials to make the observation that your proposition is unfathomable and beyond comprehension.

“than before” presumably means the era of:

  • unprotected wickets as compared with benign ‘drop in pitches’;
  • unrestricted field placing;
  • no helmets , no arm guards, thigh guards or chest guards; and
  • 8 ball overs in Australia from 1920 -1979 and at various times in other countries;

So what we have in Australia during that latter period in particular, is batsmen without any protection facing Jeff Thomson 8 balls an over at speeds up to 180km/h, Dennis Lillee, Frank Tyson, John Snow, Wesley Hall, Ray Lindwall, Keith Miller and  Michael Holding, to name just but a few.

As for missiles for fieldsman near the wicket, do you really think that it was easier for Simpson, Taylor, Mark Waugh and the Chappells’ etc?

Surely a knowledge of the history of the game is the ‘sine qua non’ for making statements which purport to have such absolute authority.

I think you would find it interesting to have a look at some of the Aus/England, Aus/West Indies tests of the early to mid 70’s in particular.  If you did, you would recant your proposition on reflection.

Oh yes, Australian batsmen faced Larwood and Voce on unprotected wickets, with unrestricted field placements without the armour of today, 8 times each over.

Kindest regards,

Max Lewis