Keeping the traditions
From Alan & Philip Sutherland, Australia
|Graham Manou continues a long South Australian tradition © Getty Images|
For those to whom an organised fan tour, offering such delights as golf with players and drinks with coaches, has about as much appeal as facing a fit Shane Bond with little but a miniature signature bat for protection, there are alternatives. There is still the odd place, or two, where traditions appear to mean something. In the modern world this makes them very odd indeed.
Take the Adelaide Oval as one such example. Despite some modernisation, this remains a cricket ground - a ground for cricket rather than a stadium for herding cattle into. It comes as no surprise then, that the captain of the resident Sheffield Shield team in Adelaide is none other than one who appears to mirror the traditions of the ground - Graham Manou. Also somewhat of a throwback to a bygone era, Manou is a wicketkeeper's keeper, one who puts his glovework first.
When one thinks of Australian keepers, one tends to think of Queenslanders, New South Welshmen and Western Australians. South Australia, however, has an equally fine tradition behind the stumps. If Jack Blackham, the bearded 19th century Victorian, was known as "The Prince of Keepers" and, as writer Jack Pollard described him, "an original Australian hero", then Arthur Jarvis, an Adelaide coach-builder of rather taller and more solid proportions was the prince in waiting. Fellow South Australian and Test captain George Giffen wrote of Jarvis, also known as "Affie", as an outstandingly courageous taker of pace-bowling, standing up to the stumps to the express Ernie "Jonah" Jones and yet maintaining unbroken fingers.
Undoubtedly, were it not for Blackham, Jarvis would have played more than 11 Tests. Jarvis did, however, manage to win one, according to former English captain Alf Shaw, largely by his own efforts. This was the third Test of 1884-85 at the SCG, where Jarvis took five catches plus a stumping off the bowling of "The Demon" Fred Spofforth.
Better known than the 12-stone Jarvis, was another burly South Australian, Barry Jarman. Even heavier, at 13 stone 7 lbs, Jarman was long in the shadow of Wally Grout. In 191 first-class matches, he completed 560 dismissals, including 129 stumpings. One particular single-handed diving catch off Graham McKenzie in Melbourne in 1962-63 to dismiss England's Geoff Pullar is long remembered.
Trapped between Bert Oldfield and the Second World War was Charlie "Chilla" Walker. Quite possibly the best Adelaide keeper of them all, Walker recorded over three hundred first-class dismissals, an incredible 46% being stumpings. It no doubt helped his cause greatly to have legspinners of the quality of Clarrie Grimmett and Frank Ward in his Shield team. In a match against NSW at Sydney in 1940, Walker completed no less than three catches and six stumpings. Charles Walker died two years later while on active service for the Royal Australian Air Force.
Like Walker, Manou has over 300 dismissals and seems destined to be a Test reserve. With just five first-class centuries and an average in the mid-twenties his batting lacks the gusto of Brad Haddin's. However, Manou's keeping is undoubtedly world class and if it wasn't for the unreasonably heightened expectations from keepers with the bat since Adam Gilchrist appeared on the scene, he might well be accepted as the best in the country. Manou has certainly served a long apprenticeship, whereby his glovework has developed a silky smoothness.
Another who seems set on doing the same, is his state deputy, Tim Ludeman. A country boy, born in Victoria's Western District, Ludeman travelled further west for an opportunity at Shield level. Good enough to open the batting in the shorter forms of the game, Ludeman has already racked up quite a number of catches in just a few matches. One hopes that his destiny is not to be stuck behind Tim Paine. As good as Paine is, there should be enough room in the modern schedule for both of them.