Sims put his side of 'Bosanquet incident' in autobiography

Lynn McConnell

August 8, 2002

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More news on the Bosanquet incident at Lancaster Park during the Canterbury-MCC game of 1903 has emerged.

Arthur Sims, the Canterbury batsman at the non-striker's end when Bernard Bosanquet appeared to bowl Walter Pearce around his legs, suggested that Pearce await a decision from the umpire.

As it turned out neither umpire, the bowler's end administrator being Charles Bannerman, the former Australian player, was able to give a decision. Bannerman being blocked by the batsman, and the square leg umpire Robert Spencer ducking for cover.

Sims was then the target of abuse from both Bosanquet and wicket-keeper Arthur Whatman.

Sims, who was later knighted for services to commerce, was the subject of an autobiography in 1961 which was written by the former New Zealand Press Association writer in London, Alan Mitchell. Mitchell covered the 1949 tour of England and wrote the book of the tour, Cricket Companions.

Sims referred to the incident and its consequences in the book of his life 84 not out.

"It had been a good match so far, too. The Englishmen batted first and their young captain 'Plum' Warner had shown some nice shots to help his side reach 352. When Canterbury went in everybody was curious to see the man who had invented the 'googly' or the 'bosie' - the 'josser who bowls leg breaks from the off' - B J T Bosanquet, formerly of Eton and Oxford. Certainly Arthur would have liked to see more of him. He survived only three of Bosanquet's balls - the first two, leg breaks, he patted to third man; the next nipped the other way and took his leg stump. After that Bosanquet got no more wickets and was punched for 50 runs. Canterbury were all out for 224, Warner declared the Englishmen's second innings closed at 159 for seven, and wickets were down and Canterbury wanted over 200 when Arthur was joined by W Pearce.

"Pearce seemed quite at home to Bosanquet and keen to use his favourite shot - a sweep to leg, bending his knees and getting well down to it. Sure enough he shaped up to a lofted delivery, and Spencer, level with the crease at square leg, ducked instinctively to aid self-preservation.

"Whoosh! Pearce put everything into his sweep - and missed. Arthur, backing up, lost sight of the ball and the stumps, and returned to his crease. He saw Pearce hesitate and then began to walk from the wicket. The bails were off.

"'Go back,' Arthur called. 'Wait for the umpire's decision.'

"'How's that' yelled Bosanquet and the wicket-keeper A D Whatman.

"Bannerman, who had made his name in Australia before coming to coach Christ's College, stared stonily down the pitch.

"'Well, how was it?' Bosanquet demanded.

"Bannerman said: 'I don't know. I couldn't see whether the ball hit the stumps because the batsman's body was in the way.'"

Bannerman then consulted with Spencer who said that he was busy ducking and didn't see.

The players gathered round the umpires and Whatman said there was no doubt about it, Pearce had been bowled around his legs.

Bannerman returned to his position and gave a not out decision.

Bosanquet said to Sims, who had remained at the non-striker's end: "You're a nice cheat. I bowled him round his legs. Anybody could see that."

Sims replied that there was reasonable doubt as he didn't see the ball hit the wickets.

"The over was bowled out, the fielders changed. Whatman, passing Arthur who had moved to his block, said contemptuously: 'Bloody cheat'," Mitchell wrote.

"Arthur took his stance, the bowler made his run. Just as the ball was about to bounce and he was making his stroke he heard Whatman say: 'Just a bloody cheat. Why don't you get back where you belong.'"

Whatman carried on with his comments, and Sim reflected that Warner, who was aware of what was happening, had done nothing to stop the comments.

Sims got out bowled by Bosanquet soon after and the game ended with Lord Hawke's team the winners by 133 runs.

Controversy broke out afterwards with Sims having support and also criticism.

Sims told Mitchell his main regret had been not stopping the game and asking Warner to speak to Bosanquet and Whatman.

Sims was asked to play for New Zealand in two internationals that followed but declined, although newspaper coverage at the time suggested his employer at Canterbury Frozen Meat said he could not play unless he received an apology from Bosanquet and Whatman.

Mitchell rounded out the story by recording: "Bosanquet apologized [sic] before the team left for Australia in March 1902, and Arthur told him to forget all about the incident."

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