1943

Notes on season

Every critic thinks that he alone is right; otherwise, why trouble to think at all? This confidence in personal judgement blossoms best in Sport, and in cricket comes to its full and redolent flower. A man may change his opinion about a Sten Gun or the Secretary of a Club; a woman may be converted to the tone of a wall-paper or the angle of feather; but no self-respecting follower of cricket will budge an inch from his view that A is the worst batsman who was ever invited, by mistake, to open the England innings, and that B is the best googly bowler who ever pined the afternoon away at deep long-leg. In short, no reasonable devotee is open to reason. It is too late to ask and too churlish to expect that this should be otherwise.

Those of us who can still keep ready by the mind's fire a chair for cricket's welcome, have certain matters apt for discussion. They are trivial in the face of the one great issue, but they lack neither recreative pleasure nor a bearing on what Mr. Skimpole, good simple humbug, referred to as "Some pounds, odd shillings, and halfpence." From a host of subjects, each one being good enough for a day and a night's talk among the faithful, I mean to take three, one at some length, two in brief.

    (i)
  • Some cricket, such as it was, in Summer 1942.
  • (ii)
  • Some cricket, such as it may be, in summers to come.
  • (iii)
  • The amateur and professional question.

Also, subsidiary questions may poke an inquiring head round the corner.

Cricket in summer 1942. I have an almost irresistible urge to tax the benevolence of the editor and the patience of the proprietor with the cricket which is England--matches played often in the uniform of Service, at random, at the sudden idea of someone, somewhere, with no scoreboard, a tea-interval of an hour and a half, and umpires who bowled if they happened to feel that way. I had the fortune to take part in several such games, on Sunday afternoons, after we had all discarded those curious little gaiters which illumine the extremities of the Junior Service. In most of them there stood an umpire of long experience and of an integrity that surmounted the not infrequent appeals of his favourite son. His authority was unshakeable; he gave no answers to unofficial questions; and, at the end of a certain match in which he had sent back their best batsman on a somewhat delicate l. b. w. decision, he said to me: "the secret of umpiring is never to bandy words. Bandy, and you're done." Only once did this principle tremble. We were using the eight-ball Over. Suddenly the scorer, if such he can be termed, shouted to him: "Nine balls." "No," shouted back the upmire, "seven." "Nine," resumed the scorer. "Seven," reiterated the umpire, "and, whichever it is, it's a--odd number, and we're not going to stop on her."

In the "superior globe" of cricket, spectators watched the fun at Lord's, Brighton, Trent Bridge, Edgbaston, Leicester, Derby, Worcester, Northampton, Reading, and other towns of repute. League Cricket flourished at weekends in Yorkshire, Lancashire, Durham, and the Midlands. Perhaps the highest standard of play was maintained in the Bradford League, where teams were often enriched by three or four of the illustrious who happened to be serving in the district; and specimens were provided of a type of play, intense, competitive, and enjoyable, which may yet become the standard first-class game of future years.

Lord's, where Sir Pelham Warner ably continued as Deputy Secretary to the Marylebone Club, once more provided a farrago of cricket which varied pleasingly from the first class, or near it, to that in which "the players were remarkable rather for their enthusiasm than for their technical ability." Matches were played at Lord's by such teams as the Royal Navy, the Army, the Royal Air Force, Sir Pelham Warner's XI, the British Empire Team, and the Buccanneers. Of these, the Royal Navy, as in time of peace, only more so, were unable for obvious reasons to raise a team even dimly approaching their true strength; but, in Surgeon-Lieutenant K. Cranston they had a batsman, tall, powerful, and orthodox, of whom it is hoped that "more will be heard"; and in their losing match against the Army, on July 11th, Lieutenant G. C. Newman, at number five, played a stubborn innings of 38 not out which revealed yet another quality of this easy and versatile athlete.

In this match, too, Lieutenant J. D. Robertson, the Middlesex batsman, played an innings of 102 in just over an hour and a half. Once more he showed a method and a grace that distinguish him as a cricketer of England class. The scores of the principal matches may be found in another part of this volume, but memory recalls a dashing century by Sergeant Washbrook for Royal Air Force versus Army, and for the Army in this match an innings of 81, at number nine, by Major S. C. Griffith, full of courage and driving. His wicketkeeping, too, was of the highest order. He was helped in a last wicket stand by Company-Sergeant-Major-Instructor A. R. Gover, who, as ever, maintained speed and accuracy of bowling throughout the season.

Pilot-Officer R. E. S. Wyatt showed little, if any, decline in batting skill, and none at all in keenness. Sergeant-Instructor D. C. S. Compton was sometimes to be seen batting in his own spirit of freedom, and, though he seldom interested himself in heavy scoring, his "eye was as steady as ever." Squadron Leader W. J. Edrich, like-minded as to freedom, batted and bowled and fielded as if each match were to be his only appearance in the season, and Flying Officer C. J. Barnett looked as usual, as if he meant to crack the screen behind the bowler.

Among the older men, Sergeant M. Leyland and Sergeant-Instructor M. S. Nichols suggested intimations of immortality, and Flight Lieutenant Ames wafted at least one spectator back to Canterbury at peace. From these scenes the great Yorkshire batsman, Sergeant-Instructor L. Hutton, was missing, because of a severe injury to his arm. Latest advice informs that he has recovered. May it be so.

The Royal Air Force had won their first match against the Army by seven wickets; but in the second, on September 5th, their bowlers were treated lightly. For the Army, Sergeant C. B. Harris (115), most whimsical of modern batsmen, after a meditative beginning, drove past the covers like flaming fire. He was kept good company by Major B. O. Allen (69). The Army declared their innings at 291 for 3 wickets. The Royal Air Force had three hours for batting. Squadron Leader W. J. Edrich hit 48 in 30 minutes, Flight Lieutenant Ames 70 in 70 minutes. A collapse followed, but a stubborn last wicket stand by R. G. Emery and Pilot Officer A. D. Matthews baulked the Army of victory. Once more, Sergeant T. G. Evans, of the Army and Kent, showed very fine form as wicketkeeper. A discovery indeed.

Cricket at Lord's abounded in tight finishes. One May 30th the British Empire team beat the Buccaneers by 2 runs on the last ball of the match. C. B. Clarke, the West Indies Test player, bowled it to G. Lambert, of Gloucestershire. Lambert drove it high and far, just on the off side. Surely a boundary. But L. B. Thompson, running from the on side of the screen at the Nursery end, made a wonderful catch.

Then, on June 27th, Cambridge beat Oxford on the seventh ball of the last over, when A. F. G. Austin, the last Cambridge choice, a slow leg-breaker, bowled the Oxford captain, W. J. H. Butterfield. Cheers and groans. Let the feelings of Butterfield be unspoken, for his 22, at number seven, had in another few seconds saved the match. Yet Cambridge deserved to win. Their start was magnificent, even contemptuous. J. R. Bridger and the left-handed J. D. Matthews (captain) scored 118 in 75 minutes, and the Oxford bowling, never very sure, was spreadeagled. Cambridge supporters gaily recalled the feat of M. W. Payne in 1906, when "in the first half hour of the Cambridge innings he hit to the on boundary nearly every ball he received," and was then out for 64 in a total of 73, his partner, R. A. Young, continuing to 150.

Matthews was free and fallible, Bridger was free and safe. C. F. Anson added a fine innings of 85, and Matthews declared at 295 for 8 wickets, leaving Oxford three hours. Oxford answered with spirit, L. K. Purkiss (36) and C. P. Lindsay (61) scoring 70 for the first wicket at good pace. At 104 for 2 they seemed safe from defeat, but the militant D. F. Henley was stumped, and Lindsay was very well caught low at mid-on. On and around the field Cambridge stood on its collective toes. G. L. Robins, a lefthander, bowled A. N. Mather, the Oxford number eight. Butterfield and ten minutes remained. Bang went G. E. Dixon and L. L. Toynbee to Robins. Then Matthews, inspired by some imp or genius, gave Austin the ball for that last over to Butterfield from the pavilion end.

On July 16th there was a match between teams purporting to represent Oxford Past and Present and Cambridge Past and Present, but, since it had to be played in mid-week, few indeed of the less legendary "Past" could help either side and Oxford won a narrow victory, mostly owing to the astute and genial captaincy of B. H. Lyon and the all-round ability of E. D. R. Eagar, and in spite of the apparent refusal of one of their team to cease from bowling.

Then, at August Bank Holiday, a crowd of 22,000 were given something good to see and talk about, for on the Monday and Tuesday Middlesex and Essex (United) played Kent and Surrey (United). The match was in aid of King George's War Fund for Sailors. The result was a draw, but the cricket was grand and the end exciting. Middlesex and Essex were left 95 minutes to make 190 runs for victory. S. M. Brown and A. V. Avery strove to keep up with the clock, but not till W. J. Edrich joined Brown was the race level. Then D. Compton succeeded Brown, and the real fun began. Edrich was out for 73 to a glorious catch and bowl by A. V. Bedser. Twelve minutes were left for play, 34 runs were needed, when L. Compton joined his brother, who attacked Bedser and A. R. Gover with most of the known strokes and several peculiar to himself. Four balls remained to come, 4 runs were wanted; and D. Compton, going out to drive Bedser, was neatly stumped by T. G. Evans who, with 55 in the first innings of Kent and Surrey, showed that he is not only a good wicketkeeper. Most reluctantly the spectators re-assembled themselves for departure. In a match so full of skill and adventure the performance of Major E. R. T. Holmes stood out. He returned to captain Kent and Surrey after a year's absence from all cricket; also, he had recently been ill; but he scored 39 and 114 not out, making many of those drives which are the crown of batting and the joy of watching.

Among teams of less eminence but, perhaps, even intenser ardour, much obviously good, some enjoyably bad, cricket was played, and many words about old and absent friends were spoken. On July 7th a team of Eton Ramblers surely raised by, but not, for once, including, that Napoleon of Eton cricket, Colonel G. H. M. Cartwright, played a team of the Home Guard from the London District, and the Home Guard, "with a reasonably mobile side," avenged their defeat of 1941. For "the domestic defenders" A. C. L. Bennett (103) and C. V. G. Haines (85) put on 123 in a second wicket stand, Bennett reaching the 100 in 90 minutes. The Eton Ramblers, "collected with considerable difficulty," could only answer 326 for 7 (declared) with 135; and their number eleven batsman, unbeaten for 3, remarking that he could have batted for the rest of the day, mounted his motor-cycle for Salisbury Plain, whence he had set out very early that morning. The concluding hours of this match were "further brightened by the band of the Metropolitan Police."

For enthusiasm, and excellence of fielding, the London season's (unpresented) prize must be accorded to a team of the Royal Australian Air Force who, in beating a team from the Royal Air Force, displayed an agility, a speed and accuracy of picking up and throwing the ball, a comprehensive brio, which might have surprised even Leary Constantine in his boyhood. The bowling and batting were, certainly, not quite of the same standard; that was hardly possible. But, for those who were present, it was a scene that no man would wish, and no boy ought, to forget; an entertainment and a lesson in one.

On August 29th the match between Hornsey and Southgate produced a remarkable last wicket stand. T. Plant and R. W. Somerville of Hornsey stayed together for the last hour and 35 minutes, added 79 runs, and saved the match.

In summary, 1942 was the best war-time season that Lord's has had. In 1940, receipts for War Charities were £1,033; in 1941, £1,075; in 1942, £1,397. The "gates" for War Charity matches totalled 89,299, as against 74,325 in 1941. All officers and men of the Services in uniform were admitted free.

Turning aside for a moment, I should like to pay a tribute, short, as he himself would have had it, to Andrew Ducat, who fell dead while batting at Lord's on July 23rd for the Surrey Home Guard against the Sussex Home Guard. His character was gentle and kind, but strong and clear. Nothing showy, insincere, or envious came near his nature. As an athlete, in his prime, he looked and was magnificent, and he was one of the very few who have played both cricket and Association football for England. I first met him in a match at the Oval against Surrey, and remember most his strong leg hitting and square cutting. I was fortunate to meet him more often, later, in the Press Box, and he used to tell me, in his quiet way, something about the footballers of his time. In football, Aston Villa, whom he led to victory in the Cup of 1920, was his chief love. Very many will miss him. He was a fine player of games, and, in his simplicity, a fine man.

Television being in a state of suspended infancy and travel in a temporary decline, I did not find it possible to see more than a glimpse of the obviously enjoyable and often excellent cricket played away from London. The copying out of scores and the embellishing of hearsay would, with reason, exasperate readers and alarm the proprietors. So, those who followed, arranged, or played the provincial cricket of 1942, must forgive the somewhat narrow space given to it. Absence of body, not of mind or heart, is the cause. But, as regards one famous old home of cricket, Brighton, I am fortunate to have before me some matter as committed to The Cricketer by Sir Home Gordon, who likes, when he can, to take Lord's and Hove in one day. He will, I trust, allow me a summarized use of his information.

Upon his motion, Sunday cricket was started at Hove. That marks, as they say, if not "an epoch," at least an advance. "Usually," writes Sir Home, "play began some-what after two o'clock." Very many of us gratefully recall peace-time cricket around villages and towns on Sunday afternoons which might else have been spent with boredom, friend of mischief. But Wisden is no place for theological discussion; further, it enjoys the advantage of not opening its columns to daily correspondence.

Apart from Sunday cricket, more matches were played at Hove than anywhere else except at Lord's, three a week from the end of May to the third week in September. Here, the "Seven Services" tournament took place, causing over twenty matches. They were played on the time-limit system, and seldom did any team bat up to the full limit. Pleasant and keen as the cricket was, most of the scoring and wicket-taking was done by first-class players of tried ability, and, so far as Sussex was concerned, no new stars, let alone comets, whizzed into the sky. The tournament was won by Royal Air Force, led by Flying Officer H. P. Chaplin, who captained Sussex over twenty years ago and keeps a spirit ever young. The Bedser twins, E. A. and A. V., were often prominent in bowling, batting, or both, and the bowling averages were headed by H. P. H. Kiddle, one of the most promising of the younger school of cricketers. The Royal Navy team, for whom Surgeon-Lieutenant K. Cranston batted very well, came second. Bottom place was taken by the Army team, led by the tireless Captain Maurice W. Tate, the famous England cricketer. The years cannot take away his length, but they have confiscated something of that wonderful "nip."

League Cricket

In the Bradford League "A" Division, there was a close struggle for first place between Lidget Green and Windhill. The issue was delayed till the very last Saturday of their season, September 5th. On that day Windhill beat Saltaire (memories of S. F. Barnes!) by one wicket; but Lidget Green, taking three points from Idle, kept their lead by 2 points. Against Saltaire, Windhill had in their team L. N. Constantine, W. H. Copson, D. Smith, and J. S. Buller. For Lidget Green, T. B. Mitchell, the England and Derbyshire leg-break bowler, and A. Bastow between them took every wicket that fell to their team in championship matches, a feat without parallel in the League. Bastow topped the League bowling list with 63 wickets at 6.96 each; Mitchell had 78 wickets at 8.94 each. The batting list was headed by E. Paynter, the England and Lancashire lefthander, who, playing for Keighley, champions of Division "B," had the extraordinary average of 138.55 for 15 innings, highest score 158. In bowling, the West Indies test cricketer, E. A. Martindale, provided the complement to Paynter's batting; and so Keighley return to Division "A" for season 1943.

In the Birmingham League, West Bromwich Dartmouth won the championship for the second year in succession, largely owing to the skill of E. Hollies, the England and Warwickshire leg-break bowler. Once more, H. O. Kirton (Mitchell and Butlers) showed fine form as a batsman, coming first in the League averages with 68.40 for ten innings. In the Durham League of ten teams the Sunderland Police made a welcome appearance, and finished third. South Shields won the tournament for the fourth time.

Report of a Royal Navy Air Station cricket team, "somewhere in England," caught the curious eye; for there, at the top of the batting averages, as he is entitled to be by fame and merit, stood Major Lord Tennyson, of the Army--10 innings, twice not out, highest score 55, average 30.12. Unconsciously, if illogically, I searched beneath his name for Kennedy and Newman, Brown and Bowell, Mead and stumper Livsey; and the rigours and revels of the Bournemouth festival came back, without invitation, and were gone.

The British Empire Eleven which, when fully representative, was of strongest County standard, again gave to spectators good cricket and raised for Charity (the Red Cross, except in one or two instances) the sum of £1,500. They played 34 matches; won 23; lost 5; drew 6. Of those who could play with some frequency, C. B. Clarke, the West Indies Test cricketer, bowled remarkably well even for him, taking 129 wickets in 323 overs at 10.17 each. His leg-breaks, delivered at unusually fast pace and with a longish run, were apt to unsettle the best and unhook the weaker opponents. Three times in one fortnight he did the hat-trick. Among British Empire batsmen, Captain A. H. Parnaby, A. V. Avery, H. P. Crabtree, H. Halliday, R. Smith, A. C. L. Bennett, R. J. Partridge, and T. E. Bailey were the most successful. R. Smith, of Essex, captained the team in most of the matches, and the committee carried such well-known names as Sir Pelham Warner and S. F. Rous. The manager, A. C. L. Bennett, joined the army during the summer, and was succeeded by C. V. G. Haines.

London Counties, of equal standing with the British Empire Eleven, again aimed more particularly at bringing attractive and powerful cricket to districts not usually, even in time of peace, thus entertained. In result, many games were won with something more than ease, but the playing mattered far more than the winning. Denis Compton headed the batting averages with 86.80, followed by Jack O'Connor, 64.25. Besides the familiar worthies of the home counties, the brothers J. W. and F. S. Lee, of Somerset, and Stuart Boyes, of Hampshire, still a fine lefthand slow bowler and close fielder, gave their help. During the winter, the constitution of the club was remodelled.

Of the Public Schools, Dulwich, Eton, Charterhouse, and Rughy had good teams, and from these four schools came nine out of the twenty-two cricketers who played in the match, Lord's Schools v. The Rest, on August 5th and 6th. More detailed reference to school players will be found in another part of this volume, and there is no doubt whatever that the general standard of play was up to the average; but, in the friendliest spirit, I should like to deprecate that excessive praise which, especially in time of war, when values may be forgotten, is so easily and so often accorded to very young players. The calculated belittling of any games-player makes none ridiculous but him who belittles; but thoughtless flattery makes a fool of both the flatterer and the flattered.

Of those school players who were seen at Lord's, T. E. Bailey and A. W. H. Mallett, both of Dulwich, showed promising all-round form, and their fast-medium bowling was of quality. Both, if opportunity offers, should make good in first-class cricket. Besides these, E. N. W. Bramall, of Eton, showed himself to be a stylish player of strokes, and N. D. Howard, of Rossall, was solid and sensible as an opening batsman. In varying methods, J. S. Souter, of Haileybury, G. E. S. Woodhouse, of Marlborough, G. A. Wheatley, of Uppingham, and A. S. Lovett, of Charterhouse, showed promise as batsmen, G. A. Wheatley also being an alert and crisp wicketkeeper. Among the bowlers, besides Bailey and Mallett, C. M. Wheatley, of Eton, maintained accuracy with his inswingers, and both B. J. K. Pryer, of City of London School, and R. R. Rees, of Haileybury, could look difficult with slow spin-bowling, though Pryer at present uses the leg-break hardly at all. One other cricketer, who was twelfth man for the Public Schools XI v. a Lord's XI, R. J. L. Altham, of Marlborough, should be mentioned for a second innings of 116 against Rugby, in which he reproduced some hereditary skill in both defence and attack.

Good work was done by the Surrey County Club in continuing to run their "nursery team," the Surrey Colts, under the care and encouragement of Mr. Andrew Kempton, who wrote: "The lads who have comprised this side have come from Public Schools, Secondary Schools, and village clubs, and their enthusiasm for each other's success has made the experiment well worth while."


Post-War County Cricket

On the nature of County cricket after this war many persons have maintained, sometimes with no little heat, their various opinions. Meanwhile, the Marylebone Cricket Club, neither unduly depressed by criticism nor noticeably elated by praise, took the wise and natural step of calling, for December 8, 1942, a meeting of the Advisory County Cricket Committee. To this body, whatever the public and the critics may say, belongs the ripest knowledge of what kind of cricket is likely to prove convenient, entertaining, and, at the same time, cricket.

In effect, the members of this committee were asked to go back to their several homes and there to discuss various plans for the resumption of the County Championship after the war, and to bring again to Lord's, in the spring of 1943, those plans in the shape of specific resolutions. Haste, so ardently urged from some quarters, was not necessary or helpful. Plans, reasonably sifted and debated, were called for, and they will fall for consideration at the meeting of the M.C.C. and Advisory Committees in July.

All the first-class counties with the exception of Derbyshire were represented. Those present were:--

M.C.C.: S. Christopherson (President), Lt.-Col. Sir Stanley Jackson, Lord Cobham, W. Findlay, Sir Pelham Warner, Col. R. S. Rait Kerr.

Essex: A. J. Spelling; Glamorgan: F. D. Pipe; Gloucestershire: Lt.-Col. H. A. Henson, F. O. Wills; Hampshire: Col. W. K. Pearce, W. H. Sprankling, W. R. Ponting; Kent: Lord Cornwallis, J. R. Mason; Lancashire: T. A. Higson, Major R. Howard; Leicestershire: Sir Julian Cahn; Middlesex: R. H. Twining, Major G. O. Allen; Northamptonshire: Lt.-Col. T. E. Manning; Nottinghamshire: Sir Douglas McCraith; Somerset: Brigadier E. H. Lancaster; Surrey: B. A. Glanvill, H. D. G. Leveson-Gower, A. F. Davey; Sussex: Sir Home Gordon, W. L. Knowles; Warwickshire: Dr. H. Thwaite; Worcestershire: Lord Cobham; Yorkshire: E. F. Holdsworth; Minor counties: C. B. L. Prior.

In short, what will almost certainly happen is that the first season of County cricket after the war will be given over to experiments, without any set championship; a not unpleasing prospect; for then the public may be able to watch an old-fashioned 3-day match, an "improved-model" 2-day match, an "all-in" 1-day match, a hit-your-six-and-go time-limit match, and even, perhaps, a sharp bout of tip-and-run; and all, perhaps, within some ten days. The Festival Circus of Imperial Rome went little better than this. There may be rain, under whose tyranny the most ingenious planners and the most insatiable cricketers are just so much frustrated matter. And that, to borrow the sparing expression of an illustrious golfer who hit five balls out of bounds at one hole, would be "a little disappointing."

While I think it likely that the majority of County votes would probably even now, and even more probably later on, be cast for 3-day County matches, my own hope, for what it is worth, still inclines towards the "new-model" 2-day match, two matches to be played in each seven days; for I believe that this system, properly handled, would satisfy the discerning public, would divert and extend the players, and, avoiding travesty, would encourage and maintain the true standard of cricket.

Of these 2-day matches, "one lot could be played on a Saturday and Monday, the other on a Wednesday and Thursday, the two latter days including the trade half-holidays in nearly all parts of England." I quote from my own contribution to Wisden of 1942. Sussex have added some interesting suggestions: "Normal hours of play, with declarations permissible at any time provided the side next batting has a full hour before stumps are drawn. Four points for a win on first innings, ten for a win outright, with six apiece in the event of a tie. Follow-on optional at 100 runs. In the event of rain preventing play on the first day, the rules of one-day matches to be adopted for the second. All the first-class counties would be able to meet each other."

Here is a basis for good cricket, good watching, with enough of leisure surely to satisfy officials, umpires, scorers and ground staff, and to give the County teams the chance of reasonable travel and of playing local sides, with the enjoyment of those social pleasures without which any game is only half a game.


Professional and Amateurs

This is a question that calls for plain speaking and honest thinking. Its treatment demands realism, which you will rarely find either on a soap-box in Hyde Park or in a deep armchair of the Carlton Club.

I think that any man who has had the happiness of playing, even occasionally, in what is called first-class cricket will extend that somewhat arid adjective far beyond the confines of batting, bowling, and fielding. For in no other cricket, however rich in the strife, humour and benevolence of Nature, will your find such good company among players of all ages and all walks of life, or make and, if you will, keep such effortless and enduring friendships. But I also think that the hour is ripe, indeed over-ripe, for the sweeping away of anachronisms and the exploding of humbug.

Under the word "Professional" in the Concise Oxford Dictionary you will find the words "playing for money;" under "Amateur" you will find "one who is fond of" and "one who cultivates a thing as a pastime." You will also find, but not in the Dictionary, that, as regards modern cricket, these respective definitions are to a remarkable degree interchangeable; for, all professionals whom I have known are fond of cricket and regard it as a pastime as well as a living, and many amateurs, besides being fond of cricket, play it for the equivalent of money, namely for the publicity which attracts clients to themselves or to the business for which they may be working. The only difference here is that the professional's pay is direct, and the amateur's indirect. To both, cricket is in fact, whatever it may be in law, their source, partly or entirely, of livelihood. To distinguish between these two sorts of cricketer, on any commercial consideration, is surely humbug.

In the season of 1939 there still existed in County Cricket a few, a very few, amateurs who earned no money, directly or indirectly, from the playing of their game. They received only their travelling and hotel expenses, and, in some cases, not even these. Long may cricket encourage and be encouraged by such men. Their unbiased leadership and natural generosity have served cricket honourably and long, and they have given to the game, from half-legendary times, many illustrious players, many great captains, many prudent legislators. But they are survivors of an almost lost society, of an age that is nearly gone.

For these reasons, with whatever feelings of regret or pleasure they may be regarded, and for many other reasons, some too obvious, others too intimate to be mentioned, I would welcome the total deletion of all distinction between professionals and amateurs in first-class cricket. To me at least such questions as the position of a cricketer's initials and the precise gate from which he is to enter the field have long seemed vastly absurd. Once on the field, a bowler is as good as a batsman, and a wicket keeper probably better than either. But, how much County cricketers of the future are going to be paid, and when the money is to come, are questions that I do not mean to discuss--yet.

Once again, at the end of these Notes, I should like to thank Mr. Hubert Preston and Mr. Norman Preston and their colleagues of Pardon's Cricket Reporting Agency for their kind help and wise suggestions.


January, 1943.

© John Wisden & Co
 
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