A case of sledging and abuse of an umpire lost in antiquity

Lynn McConnell

July 5, 2002

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Critics of modern behaviour in cricket would have you believe that standards have seriously declined with the advent of sledging and abuse which has reached the point that match referees and two neutral umpires are required to stand between two opponents on the field of play.

But there are many instances where the laws of the game have been fully tested.

New Zealand in its early years was no different to many other countries and while in the on-going quest to find out the origins of the word 'googly', a long-forgotten incident involving Lord Hawke's XI during their 1902/03 tour of New Zealand under the captaincy of Pelham Warner when meeting Canterbury at Lancaster Park was recalled.

Warner claimed in his book of the tour that the word 'googly' had been coined by a writer for the Lyttelton Times. However, a quick look at microfilmed, and poorly lit, copies of the said newspaper revealed no mention of the word 'googly' in the match coverage of either the game against Canterbury or the 'Test' match against New Zealand, played three weeks later.

The search continues.

But what did come to light was an incident while Bernard Bosanquet was bowling in Canterbury's second innings to one Walter Pearce, who was at the wicket with Arthur Sims, then aged 25 years, due to Dan Reese having to leave the field after being laid out.

Lord Hawke's XI had batted first and scored 352 to which Canterbury replied with 224, including Reese's 111. Hawke's XI then declared at 159/7 and Canterbury took to the park again.

The Lyttelton Times noted: "With 28 showing, Bosanquet took the ball from Thompson. There was an appeal against Pearce for bowled, but the umpires declined to give a decision, neither having properly witnessed the incident, and there was a little delay owing to several of the English players being inclined to argue the point."

Christchurch's rival newspaper, The Press, reported in an editorial on the matter.

"We have been at some pains to ascertain the facts. Bosanquet bowled one of his slow breaks to Pearce. It beat the batsman, who lunged across the pitch, completely obscuring the stumps from the view of the umpire and of Sims, who was batting at the other end. A bail flew to the ground, and Bosanquet believed that he had hit the wicket.

"Sims called to Pearce not to leave till the umpire gave him 'out'. It was, of course, for the bowler's umpire to decide, but for the reason stated he was unable to give a decision. The other umpire was appealed to, and he also was unable to say whether ball hit the wicket or not.

"Pearce accordingly remained at the wickets. The umpires were quite right.

"Assuming that Pearce was bowled, as is probably the case, neither of them was in a position of certainty. They could not act on probability nor on the authority of the bowler.

"The rules of the game compelled them under the circumstances to give the batsman the benefit of the doubt.

"For English gentlemen to so far forget themselves as to openly dispute such a decision, and to say that it was the worst decision they had ever heard, was strange conduct.

"If Canterbury men had done such a thing 'shockingly bad form' would be the mildest comment to expect from University-trained players.

"But that is not all. Sims was told that it was a disgrace for him to suggest an appeal to the umpires, though in doing this he was not only within his legal rights but he was in no way transgressing the very strictest etiquette of the game. Hopes were audibly expressed by the field that he would be bowled, and he was subjected by the wicket-keeper to a running fire of disconcerting remarks.

"It is little wonder that a highly-strung boy - Sims is only just out of his teens - [he was in fact 25 years old at the time] was completely put off his play by such treatment, and it is more than probable that the early dismissal of himself and of his partner, Pearce, who heard all that passed, was accelerated by conduct which neither expected from Eton and Oxford men."

The following day The Press recorded that Warner had written to Mr A E G Rhodes, the president of the Canterbury Cricket Association, stating that neither he nor his men disputed the decision of the umpires.

"Both were quite right, under the circumstances, in refusing to give the man out, but, as it happened, it was extremely unfortunate that neither saw what occurred, for an immediate decision one way or other would have averted all the subsequent trouble.

"The other visitors most prominently connected with the incident having also expressed their regret that they should have made the remarks, in the heat of the moment, to which objection could be taken, the incident comes to a close," the Press noted.

Unfortunately, it wasn't the end of the matter.

As the Lyttelton Times recorded, so upset was the managing director of the Canterbury Frozen Meat Company, Mr F Waymouth, by whom Sims was employed, that he did not accept Warner's apology as being sufficient.

In a letter to Sims, a copy of which appeared in the Times, Waymouth said:

"I read in yesterday's papers the report of the incident which took place at the cricket match on Monday. I have also your personal explanation in the matter. In view of all the circumstances, I do not think the letter appearing in this morning's papers, over the signature of the captain of the team, is a sufficient apology. I do not, therefore, think you can, with dignity to yourself or to the credit of cricket in Canterbury, play any further matches against the English cricket team, unless Messrs Bosanquet and [wicket-keeper Arthur] Whatman apologise personally to you for their conduct. Failing your obtaining this apology I must withdraw your leave of absence from this office for further matches against this team."

Bosanquet wrote to the CCA expressing his regrets for any words he may have used during the match which may have been capable of giving offence to the umpires or players.

Whatman also expressed regret for a remark he made to one of the umpires and said he would apologise to Sims if it could be shown that he had used the words attributed to him.

But he said he had no recollection of having used the words.

Bosanquet then issued a statement to Rhodes.

"As there has been so much notice taken of this incident in the match on Monday last, it might be as well if the facts of this case were generally known.

"I hope the following will be admitted to be a fair statement of what occurred.

"I bowled a ball to Pearce which pitched on the leg-side of the wicket. The batsman tried to hit it to leg, and missed it. I heard a sound as if the ball had hit the wicket, and Whatman said: 'Well bowled!'

"Warner at mid-on, and [Sam] Hargreave at point, both of whom could see what happened, said the same, and walked towards the wicket. Pearce started to walk away, thinking he was bowled, when Sims said: 'You had better appeal!'

"Pearce then returned to his ground, and we appealed to the umpire ([Charles] Bannerman), who was quite unable to see, owing to Pearce being between him and the wicket.

"The decision was therefore referred to [square leg umpire RW] Spencer, who said that he also had not seen what occurred. We were then left at a standstill, as neither umpire would say 'Out' or 'Not out.'

Pearce then said: 'Well, I was out; I had better go,' and started to walk away, but we pointed out to him that the matter had been referred to the umpires, and therefore he could not go till one of them gave him 'Out.'

"After some time, as we could not get a decision, Warner requested me to go on with the over, which I did. I then addressed the remark to Sims, for which I have since apologised.

"Whatman then made remarks to the umpire, for which he has also apologised, and we hoped the matter was at an end.

"As far as I am concerned it seems to me to be a purely personal matter between Sims and myself, and the same applies to Whatman's remarks, and it is much to be regretted that the matter has been publicly taken up.

"We are sorry that a tour we have all enjoyed so much should be marred by any unfortunate incident, and hope that the pleasant relations which have hitherto existed with the teams we have met may be continued," Bosanquet wrote.

As a footnote the paper said that Sims wanted it to be known that he was not responsible for the publication of the letter sent to him by his employer.

When England returned to Christchurch a month later to play the first 'Test' of the tour everyone was keen to downplay the incident which was described, in any official comment that was reported as one of those that, 'should never have made its way into the newspapers.'

However, the greatest loser in the issue appeared to be Sims as he took no part in the series, and given that his career-best bowling performance was achieved that season when taking five for 36 against Otago, he would almost certainly have been favoured to retain the position he first won in 1898/99.

He had been named in the side chosen, according to Arthur Carman in his book New Zealand International Cricket 1894-1974 but withdrew.

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