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The day that Jack Newman was sent from the field by his captain
September 24, 2005
Jack Newman was the archetypical old-fashioned cricket professional. A stalwart of Hampshire for more than two decades, he turned out season after season, taking more than 2000 wickets with his flighted offspin, which he supplemented with seam bowling when Hampshire needed someone to take the new ball. He was also a good enough batsman to have passed 1000 runs in a season seven times. He never played for England -one of only three men to have take more than 2000 wickets and not done - but many less capable cricketers of the same era did.
Newman, 37, was widely regarded as an amiable, sensitive type, which made what happened at Trent Bridge in August 1922 all the more remarkable.
On the second day of Hampshire's match against Nottinghamshire, the home crowd began to grow restless at what they perceived as time-wasting by Newman as he rearranged his field after opting to bowl round the wicket. When at the start of this next over he again took a while fiddling with his field placings, the crowd started to barrack him.
An exasperated Newman, who then had an appeal turned down, threw the ball to the ground at the end of the over. He was not in the best of health at the time and was struggling for form - his previous four matches had yielded only 10 wickets at 38.20 - which may help explain his subsequent actions. Lionel Tennyson, Hampshire's eccentric but all-powerful aristocratic captain, instructed Newman to pick it up. Newman refused, at which point Tennyson ordered him from the field.
The two were good friends, despite the class difference, and even shared racing tips. Newman obeyed the order but demolished the stumps with a kick as he stomped from the field - "a most unusual display of petulance from a likeable man," according to Wisden.
Tennyson proceeded to speak out loud a letter to the president of Nottinghamshire in which Newman, who copied his captain's words down without a murmour, offered his profound apologies. A second letter, to Carr, the Nottinghamshire captain, followed.
Tennyson was not quite finished. "Now, Jack, a final letter. To the Hon. L H Tennyson, captain, Hampshire County CC, Trent Bridge, Nottinghamshire. `Dear Skipper, I humbly regret my behaviour, and so on, you confounded old villain; and don't let us have a repetition of your disgraceful conduct. And, good evening to you, Jack, and, damn you, take this." He thrust a five pound note - a considerable sum in those days - into Newman's hands.
Tennyson told reporters that Newman had been ordered off for using "objectionable language" and that the matter was considered closed. The following day Newman took the field with his team-mates and was warmly applauded by the crowd when they saw he was back in the fold.
The Cricketer, while deploring Newman's reaction to being expelled, questioned whether Tennyson would have not be better off in waiting until the close before reporting the incident to the county committee. But Tennyson was implusive in everything he did.
Newman played for Hampshire until 1930, becoming a first-class umpire before he emigrated to South Africa during the war. Tennyson lived life to the full, but ran up crippling debts and died virtually penniless in 1951, "like a typical English gentleman, sitting up in bed reading The Times and smoking a cigar."
Newman bore his captain no ill feeling. On being told of Tennyson's death, he said: "What a wonderful man. We loved him, every bone in his body."
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Regency Buck - Alan Edwards (Robson, 2001)
Playfair Cricket Monthly - 1967
The Cricketer - 1922
Wisden Cricketers' Almanack
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