Exuberant batting by West Indies, 1951

Notes by the Editor

Hubert Preston

After the glorious weather of 1949 there came an unpleasant change in our perplexing climate, with much cold and rain offering a gloomy greeting to cricketers from West Indies. How our visitors overcame conditions quite foreign to their home heat and humidity is fully described in the special section of this book devoted to them, but I would recall an early rebuff with which they met at Cambridge, where J. G. Dewes and D. S. Sheppard started the University innings with a stand of 343 in a total of 594 for four wickets. F. M. Worrell and Everton Weekes replied with 350, and West Indies made 730 for the loss of three men--a clear indication of exuberant batting strength which seldom deserted them; and rarely did they face an uphill struggle.

Their attractive cricket coincided with another extremely fascinating fight for the County Championship. This made amends for much of the moderate form which brought severe criticism on many of the sides, with the general condemnation that the younger batsmen were mostly of one type as if constantly coached how to play, instead of being encouraged to show and develop their natural individuality. To watch slow bowlers keep an end going for long spells without fieldsmen for the straight drive brought sad reflections to those remembering our many fine forcing batsmen of the past.

The craze for turning the spin bowler to leg rather than go forward and meet the ball on the half volley seems to have become infectious among the younger generation of professionals. Lowson, of Yorkshire, stood out as an exception; Parkhouse, 25, of Glamorgan, and Gardner, 28, of Warwickshire, also did well in their different styles. The honours went to such seasoned players as Hutton and Washbrook in all matches, while in the County Championship Fishlock, the Surrey left-hander, scoring 2,077 runs, Fagg, 35, of Kent, 2,019, and Kenyon, 26, Worcestershire, 2,002, excelled as the best run-getters. Fishlock, at the age of 43, followed this performance by showing fine form for the Commonwealth team in India. The example of lengthy experience and watching batsmen of that quality is the best way to improve young cricketers who can bat without being told how to grasp the handle.

Australia Retain "The Ashes"

And this raises an even more important matter--the choice of the side captained by F. R. Brown in Australia. I am writing just after the Third Test at Sydney, where injuries to T. E. Bailey and D. V. P. Wright seriously reduced our strength and England lost far more heavily than in the hard-fought struggles at Brisbane and Melbourne. So Australia hold "The Ashes," as they have done since 1934. To reinforce the side, B. Statham and R. Tattersall, the Lancashire bowlers, were flown out. Yet despite England's heavy defeat there can be no question that our bowlers acquitted themselves far better than many people expected they would. In recent years England bowlers have shouldered a lot of blame for our constant setbacks, but I have always felt that the batting has been the worst weakness. Since the war England have relied too much on four men, Hutton, Washbrook, Edrich and Compton, to make runs. When they have performed moderately or failed, the lack of class batsmen to follow them has been deplorable. Fortunately, Hutton has maintained his brilliance, but the other three have shed much of their excellence, largely through injury or illness, and no young batsmen have come along to challenge them. I thoroughly agree with the Selection Committee in their desire to introduce young men, but although many have been tried none has shown the ability expected of cricketers elevated to Test status. England suffered from this failure of youth when G. O. Allen took a team to West Indies, also when Australia (1948), New Zealand (1949) and West Indies (1950) visited us, and again when F. G. Mann led a side in South Africa.

Those Left Behind

Yet for this tour of Australia the Selectors gambled on five or six young men who had accomplished nothing in Test cricket. D. B. Close had spent the whole summer in the Army. Certainly he showed great promise in 1949, but constant match practice is necessary for youth to develop, and on the few occasions Close appeared in 1950 it was obvious he had gone back. His selection for Australia caused tremendous surprise. From the reports of reliable judges of the game who accompanied the team to Australia one could realise that instead of losing the first two Tests at Brisbane and Melbourne, England with two or three of the capable professional batsmen who were left behind might well have won both matches. I cannot help thinking a great mistake was made in passing over J. T. Ikin, the dogged Lancashire left-hander, who is such a magnificent fielder close to the wicket, W. J. Edrich, a whole-hearted all-rounder, and H. Gimblett. I am afraid our selectors pay too much heed to the weekly averages which can be so misleading. For my part I would ignore all batting performances on those innocuous pitches at Cambridge and Nottingham

The tour will be reviewed completely in next year's Almanack, but I cannot miss this opportunity to praise F. R. Brown for his superb courage and leadership. As far back as 1933 he was one of our Five Cricketers of the Year, and now he has not only proved himself to be England's best captain since D. R. Jardine, with whom he toured Australia eighteen years ago, but has excelled as a batsman and bowler when the position became desperate. Surely the Counties will learn from this lesson of Brown the real value of producing all-round cricketers. We have too many specialists in England.

Glowing accounts have been received of the bowling of A. V. Bedser and T. E. Bailey. It would appear that Australian pitches, even when unaffected by rain, are faster and give more encouragement to seam bowlers than those in this country. I am pleased that T. G. Evans has been at his volatile best behind the stumps, particularly as he is one of the "Five" in this edition, and that Hutton has given so many glorious displays. Thanks to these few men England's tarnished cricket reputation has risen, and may be we have turned the corner after our long post-war depression, but there is still a long way to go before we reach even our 1939 standard. For this reason alone I hope South Africa produce a formidable combination for the coming summer, otherwise we may acquire a false sense of values once more.

Teachers Trounced

The triumphant march of West Indies, lasting all through the season with scarcely a setback, indicated all too clearly the low ebb to which cricket in England has subsided. To fathom the cause of this remains a conundrum difficult to solve, but nothing can obscure the fact that the pupils visiting their teachers gained ten victories without having to bat a second time. England suffered defeat by an innings in the last Test at The Oval, and Lancashire, sharers of the County Championship with Surrey, were compelled to undergo this humiliation twice. Five days were allotted to each Test, and England began with a victory by 202 runs, but the pitch at Old Trafford was not prepared for a match of that length. Then came the landslide. West Indies won at Lord's by 326 runs, at Nottingham by ten wickets, and England not only failed to divide the honours by winning the final match, but underwent their heaviest reverse at The Oval.

The decisive result in all four Tests after the series of unfinished three-day matches with New Zealand during the previous summer came as a relief to indecision; and the emphatic methods adopted by the conquerors meant very attractive cricket. Good form from them was expected after they proved too strong for the team captained by G. O. Allen in the winter of 1948, when they won two and drew the other two Tests, but in batting and bowling they excelled to a degree no one could have anticipated. To their batsmen, F. M. Worrell, Everton Weekes and C. L. Walcott, and the young slow bowlers, S. Ramadhin and A. L. Valentine, they were indebted chiefly, but the whole side worked with splendid determination under the admirable control of J. D. C. Goddard, an astute and inspiring captain.

To see their batsmen was an education in the chief purpose of cricket--run-getting--while in bowling and fielding they adopted every means to check speedy scoring by their adversaries in the true sporting spirit of cricket with obvious intent to dismiss the batsmen concerned. To these valedictory remarks I would add the modest bearing of our visitors from the Caribbean, and venture to suggest that Australia will find West Indies difficult to circumvent when they become adversaries. Every effort must be made by West Indies to send their best side. If the three Lancashire League professionals, Worrell, Weekes and Ramadhin, stay behind, as has been suggested, an injustice will be done not only to the two competing countries but to cricket as a whole.

Notable features of the Tests were the curious pitch at Old Trafford, where, though batsmen fared poorly for the most part, T. E. Bailey and Evans in a partnership of 161 set up a sixth-wicket record in an England and West Indies match. This was the first century by Evans for England and his first in this country.

While reflecting on the defeat of England we must bear in mind the handicaps undergone through the absence from one Test match of Hutton, with an injured finger, of Denis Compton, held up for most of the season by a damaged knee; the inability of W. J. Edrich to appear in two of the Test matches, and the continual difficulty of selecting men really in form and most likely to give of their best under exacting conditions. Our troubles are shown plainly by the many changes considered necessary by the Selection Committee. No fewer than twenty-five men appeared for England in the course of the four Tests, not one man playing in the whole series, whereas West Indies were a real team with twelve players their total. In fact, England were little better than a scratch lot, outclassed and badly beaten--after one victory. An unpleasant verdict that cannot be avoided.

County Championship

If in many county matches the cricket did not rise to our old-time excellence, the actual competition could not have produced a more exciting finish than the tie between Lancashire and Surrey, just as Middlesex and Yorkshire divided the honours a year before. Strangely enough, the two leading contestants met Leicestershire during the closing days of the season; each won easily, and the victory of Surrey enabled them to get on level terms and share the honours with their northern rivals, from whom they took four points earlier in that final week of the county tournament. Surrey won six of their last seven matches, losing only to Yorkshire, and gradually overtaking Lancashire, who held the lead from mid-July when they got level with Warwickshire; the Midlanders did not win one of their last eleven county fixtures, yet they beat West Indies by three wickets.

While Yorkshire finished third, only four points below the sharers of chief honours, their co-champions of 1949 went through one of the worst seasons they ever can have experienced. In fact nothing came as such a great surprise as the decline of Middlesex, who fell from the top to fourteenth place. Contributory causes were the absence of Denis Compton from the last week in May for over two months while his damaged knee-cap recovered and the necessity for W. J. Edrich to rest a strained back for some five weeks. Worst of all were the difficulties in leadership, no fewer than seven different captains being in charge of Middlesex during the season.

To show to what extent Surrey, with most wins, Lancashire and Yorkshire surpassed their adversaries, it may be mentioned that Warwickshire, fourth on the list, were 68 points behind Yorkshire, and mediocrity became more and more pronounced in the decline from 220 by the leaders to 60 points gained by Essex, last in the table. The effect of the wet weather on the actual cricket may be gathered from the number of drawn matches in the Championship reaching 91 compared with 69 in the pleasant summer of 1949. Surrey found further satisfaction in their second eleven winning the Minor Counties Championship.

Qualification Too Easy?

The difficulties of young players, particularly professionals, in rising to full efficiency have been increased by the counties getting seasoned men from the Commonwealth and other sources without enforcement of the full residential qualification that used to be imperative. M.C.C. officials seemed only too ready to permit such changes in or additions to the ranks of any county making the application.

While County fixtures have increased, so causing representative matches to bring more difficulties to the sides in the competition from which the best players are picked, the decision of M.C.C. not to have a Test Trial in 1951 is open to criticism. It may have been influenced by suggestions that the match has been played for the purpose of making changes in the chosen England eleven. Rather, it is useful to enable the Captain to become closely acquainted with the side under his command, particularly with regard to placing the men in the field. To each member of the eleven there is similar help in knowing his colleagues intimately. This brings confidence by a real initiation into the responsible duties of everyone honoured by receiving an England cap.

While all this applies specially to the England XI, it brings to "The Rest" the opportunity to appear in representative cricket and overcome any nervousness inseparable from publicity not experienced previously. Perhaps the remarkable cricket which occurred in last year's Trial at Bradford may have perplexed the selectors. On a pitch of the stickiest nature, Laker took eight wickets for two runs in fourteen overs of which twelve were maidens; but in the Manchester Test he claimed only one victim, though he had bowled extremely well for Surrey during a long innings by West Indies, and he was not picked again.

Umpiring Vagaries

From Frank Chester standing in the Test Match at Trent Bridge to an official acting in a club game in Australia is a far cry, but each gave a decision beyond the knowledge of regular players and followers of cricket down the ages. Chester called "out" to an appeal for leg-before against D. J. Insole and insisted that his ruling should go on the score sheet although the ball went off the batsman's pads on to the stumps; surely this meant bowled. How Chester contrived to signal "out" before the ball reached the stumps is difficult to realise, but, however that may be, his refusal to withdraw his verdict in favour of the more definite and satisfactory form of dismissal cannot be understood. Both for bowler and batsman "bowled" looks far better than "l.b.w." in the score, and the obstinacy of such an expert as Frank Chester, regarded as the most sagacious, quickest and reliable umpire for many years, in declining to alter his attitude is more than surprising. Can it be that having given his decision he regarded the ball as "dead" before it reached the stumps?

Umpires in Australia often come under criticism. An incident in a district game at Melbourne last October shows that clear understanding of the laws is just as necessary as practical knowledge of the game. In the case under notice Neil Harvey, the left-hander, had scored 17 when a fast bowler hit the middle stump. Both bails flew into the air, but dropped into the grooves on the stumps. Harvey was on the way back to the pavilion when the umpire recalled him saying that he was not out, his reason being that the bails must fall to the ground. Nothing in the laws makes this essential to dismissal. The bails might lodge in the wicket-keeper's pads or be caught by fieldsmen. If these suggestions seem to be stretching the point, they are mentioned to emphasise Law 31, which reads: "The wicket shall be held to be 'down' if either ball or striker's bat or person completely removes either bail from the top of the stumps," etc.

Note to this law: "A wicket is not 'down' merely on account of disturbance of a bail, but it is 'down' if a bail in falling from the wicket lodges between two of the stumps. Surely this applied to the case in question when the bails flew into the air."

The trouble experienced by Berry, the left-hand slow bowler, in running clear of the umpire on the way to deliver the ball at Perth, and the no-balling of Warr, Bailey and Wright eleven times altogether at the start of the match with South Australia at Adelaide in October last, recall the suggestions in my Notes in 1948 Wisden. The difficulties of bowlers in making sure that one foot is behind the crease would disappear if the rule were altered so that the front foot should be grounded behind the popping crease--that is, between the two creases. That would facilitate the work of the umpire, enabling him to see the action in delivering the ball while standing clear of the bowler's run-up, so avoiding the possibility of the batsman being handicapped by losing sight of the bowler on the way to deliver the ball; and the bowler would remain unimpeded.

Bad Light Problem

Of special importance because of its influence on the extraordinary Test Match at Brisbane was the gruesome light in which England lost three wickets while eight runs were scored in ten minutes when almost everyone present except the umpires thought play should have ceased. The adverse decision in reply to batsmen's appeals meant a big help to Australia on that first Monday in December during which, all told, twenty wickets fell for 130 runs. Drying turf, which made the appellation "sticky dog" almost complimentary, meant conditions scarcely possible for batting. England scored 52 for three wickets, then lost four more men for 16 before F. R. Brown declared; seven Australian wickets fell for 32, then Lindsay Hassett "followed suit," setting England to get 193. The sad finish of the day left Hutton practically our one hope, and his glorious effort (possible only for this batsman, whom I have described as unequalled on all kinds of pitches) necessitated this reference to the actual play, though my object is to call attention to a light meter about the size of a pocket compass which could be used by umpires to a set scale determining when light became unfit for cricket. If any uncertainty exists surely the umpires should stop play. "Give the batsman the benefit of the doubt" has been a standing instruction to the umpire as long as I can remember.

One-Day Match Controversy

There are mixed opinions as to how far the rules governing one-day matches apply to fixtures of two days or more which are reduced to one day owing to bad weather. In November many people were surprised that the M.C.C. team's two-day match at Newcastle, New South Wales, was officially announced as a draw when, following a blank first day, New South Wales Country Districts XI led on the first innings by 169 runs to 142. For years many of us have regarded such rain-spoiled games as coming entirely under the one-day law, but a carefu1 inspection of the Laws, as they are worded now, shows that only the parts covering the declaration and the follow-on are applicable in such circumstances.

In recent years in the English County Championship when a three-day match reduced to one day has not been played out the county leading on the first innings has received eight points and been credited with a win. There were two such instances last summer: Middlesex v. Hampshire at Lord's and Sussex v. Gloucestershire at Bristol, the visitors in each case being announced as victors and the results given in the Championship table as wins and not draws. How confused is the interpretation was shown following the two-day Minor Counties match last June at Skewen, where after a blank day Glamorgan led Gloucestershire on the first innings. Glamorgan modestly gave the result as a draw, whereas Gloucestershire, the losers, generously conceded a victory to Glamorgan. In the Minor Counties table, which is compiled by their keen and efficient secretary, Mr. Frank Crompton, the result was given as a win for Glamorgan. The Minor Counties award ten points for an outright win and ten points to the side which leads on the first innings in a one-day match. Mr. Crompton told me that the Minor Counties have always regarded such cases as a win or a loss, not as a draw, and that they will continue to do so.

When the First-class Counties decided to award special points for a one-day match they did so for the express purpose of providing attraction to games ruined by rain on the first two days. The intention of awarding eight points instead of the usual four was to avoid farcical declarations and to cut down the number of drawn games. The public like to see a definite result, and if such games are going to be termed draws, even if one team takes eight points as in the case of the First-class Counties and ten points in the Minor Counties, it may be detrimental to public interest. In my opinion the M.C.C. should consult all cricket bodies, including those overseas, and then give a definite ruling as to the procedure to be adopted.

Unequal Award for Tie

Another subject our cricket rulers could consider is the unequal division of points in a tied match. When Hampshire and Kent finished level at Southampton at the end of May this was the first tie under the law introduced in 1948 whereby the side leading on the first innings takes eight points and the opposition only four. Many people argue--they wrote to the The Times--that it is inconsistent with the principles of cricket that after an even struggle the spoils should be uneven. If Kent had scored one more run they would have taken twelve points and Hampshire would still have received four for their first innings lead. It was up to both sides to go all out for victory, and in fact both did. The Oxford Dictionary defines a Tie: "Equality between two or more competitors or the sides in a match or contest; a match in which this occurs, a drawn match; a dead heat." Yes, a dead heat, and, therefore, in my opinion each side should take half the points awarded for a win.

M.C.C. President

The most important office in cricket in 1950 belonged to a player of probably more varied experience than any of his predecessors in the highest place at Lord's-- Sir Pelham Warner. When captain of Rugby School in 1891 and 1892 he headed the batting averages. He opened the batting for Oxford in 1895 and 1896, the second occasion being the match which brought about the optional enforcement of the follow-on and the closure of an innings by declaration; he was run out twice in that historic game. Just like F. S. Jackson did in 1893, Frank Mitchell, the Cambridge captain, instructed a bowler to give away extras in order to avoid a second bout of fielding for a side becoming tired and the risk of batting last on worn turf.

Well do I remember how the members rose in the pavilion shouting, "Play cricket! Play the game!" And how Oxford won in a splendid finish by four wickets. G. O. Smith, with 132, C. C. Pilkington and H. D. G. Leveson Gower, the captain, took the chief share in scoring the 330 runs required for victory--then the record total gaining a definite result in the University match.

Before getting his Blue, Warner played his first match for Middlesex in 1894 when 20 years of age; strangely enough, that was the occasion at Taunton where my initiation into cricket reporting for Pardon's away from London took place. Not until twenty-five years after this did Warner finish his county career by leading Middlesex to the Championship in 1920: after eight consecutive wins the concluding event, a victory by 55 runs over Surrey, provided one of the most colourful scenes ever known at Lord's. No figure on the cricket field was more easily recognised than the slightly built "Plum" wearing the Harlequin cap.

Meanwhile Pelham Warner captained the first team chosen by M.C.C. to tour abroad; that was to Australia in 1903-4. Again he excelled, England proving successful for the first time since 1896 and bringing back "The Ashes." His team fared still better in 1911-12, winning the rubber by four to one, but after scoring 151 against South Australia in the opening fixture Warner fell ill, which left the leadership with J. W. H. T. Douglas. Warner also toured South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies--where he was born--U.S.A., Canada, Portugal, Egypt, Colombo, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Peru--in fact, no one can claim a greater experience of cricket in all parts of the world.

Twice has Sir Pelham Warner's portrait appeared in Wisden--1904 and 1921--an honour fully deserved, as shown by these references to great events in a career now crowned by the Presidency of the club which virtually controls cricket all over the world, though I think unnecessarily restrained in exercising their influential powers.

At the moment I even would dare chide them for lack of progress towards keeping Lord's up to date. The ancient type of score-board on which l.b.w. could not be hoisted last season cut a sorry figure compared with that at The Oval. The Surrey board depicted with an electric light against the number of the fieldsman as given on the card who was the player immediately in activity with the ball! And the score cards at Lord's were beyond the easy expression of a purchaser's disgust. The home side placed first whether batting or not, names sometimes incorrect, and even on the last day in the wrong batting order when a captain changed his original nomination for the first innings.

A Surrey Rival

About five months senior to Sir Pelham, his captain at Oxford and his rival when Surrey met Middlesex some fifty years ago, H. D. G. Leveson Gower has come into prominence once more on retiring from his connection with the Scarborough Festival, at which he has been one of the leading figures for half a century. In recognition of his voluntary efforts to help make this conclusion to each cricket season a memorable event, Leveson Gower received the Freedom of Scarborough in 1930, and finished his long activity in the cricket world as President of the Scarborough Club, with the profits showing a record sum of £2,800. This may seem a modest honour for an Oxford captain renowned for his part in one of the most dramatic University matches, as recognised by his election to the M.C.C. Committee in 1898. He was Surrey captain in 1908, 1909, Treasurer for some years, and President of the Surrey Club in 1938 and 1939. These distinctions that came to him will be recalled by many followers of cricket, but it is good to mention that leading up to his high place in whatever section of first-class cricket he entered was his all-round form in the Winchester eleven. "Shrimp," a description of his small build, scored 84 against Eton in 1890, and in 1892, when captain, he made 16 and 83, and, taking five wickets for 18 runs and three for 15, helped largely in Winchester winning by 84 runs. Besides so much activity at home he captained the M.C.C. team which visited South Africa in 1905, while as a final testimony to his knowledge of the game he was often a member of the Test Selection Committee, being chairman in 1928 and 1930.

For the first time since 1895 football was seen at The Oval on October 4, Corinthians playing a Football Association XI. This match introduced the permission granted by the Surrey Committee for Corinthian-Casuals to carry out their Isthmian League programme on the famous Kennington ground, and it recalled the years when the Association game grew to popularity in England as a sporting spectacle--quite apart from the enjoyment given at The Oval to the chief amateur clubs of the 1870 decade and onwards. The F.A. Cup final ties and the principal international matches took place there. In 1885 I saw England draw with Scotland one all--the first appearance of the famous brothers A. M. and P. M. Walters at full-back for England, captained by N. C. Bailey, who held that honour from 1878 to 1887. Two years later I enjoyed a Cup Final for the first time, Aston Villa gaining an unexpected victory over West Bromwich Albion. These events came back vividly when it was my good fortune at this revival, quite by chance, to sit next to George Brann, the Sussex batsman of high renown from 1883 to 1905 and a noted Corinthian forward who played for England against Scotland as long ago as 1886. Looking much less than his age--85 years--he expressed disappointment at the display given in these words: "The football did not thrill me." But the event means much for the good of amateur Soccer.

As another Oval reflection, further honours have come to Herbert Strudwick, who played for Surrey from 1902 to 1927 and kept wicket for England in twenty-eight Test matches. When as a special distinction twenty-six famous cricketers of the past were made honorary life members of M.C.C., Strudwick came in the list. Official scorer of Surrey from 1928, he now has been elected a life member of the County Club, and to commemorate the event has received from the officials and members a pastel portrait of himself. Another portrait of this very popular veteran has been given a place in the pavilion long room at The Oval. There he figures among many renowned Surrey officials and players.

Centuries by Licence

Cricket functions are renowned for the high quality of the speeches they usually produce. After spending a lifetime in the game I naturally expect something brilliant and witty, and it was therefore most appropriate from my point of view that the speakers at the John Wisden & Co., Ltd., centenary luncheon in May lived up to the high tradition. This was a memorable occasion. Mr. Oliver Lyttelton, in his happiest vein, when referring to the West Indies team said: "I have it on the authority of no less a person than Mr. Harold Wilson (President of the Board of Trade) that, if they won too many matches in this country, he would have seriously to consider setting up a working party to examine the low productivity of British batsmen and bowlers. And that might be followed by the setting up of a development council, and even the nationalisation of cricket itself. I warn West Indies that if they come again in a few years time they may find that centuries will only be scored with a licence, and that maidens will only be obtained with a coupon."

Of this almanack Mr. Lyttelton said: "Within Wisden's well-known covers lie the records of our national game; and those who, like myself, turn its pages in a spirit of escapism can see in their mind's eye many of the beautiful grounds, some of them lying below the gleaming spires of our cathedrals or the smoking chimneys of our industrial life. We know that as long as we have the spirit and tradition of this game and allow them to endure, change and decay which we may discern in other nations will touch us only lightly with their dread fingers."

Russian Story

To Mr. Harold Wilson fell the task of proposing the toast of "This Wonderful Century." He confessed that he was no cricketer himself, but he remarked: "I am a Yorkshireman, and cricket is never far from a Yorkshireman's thoughts." Then he amused us with an account of the last time he played cricket. He said it was in Moscow when he was there for trade talks with the Russians. "There was one Sunday afternoon, during a lull in the negotiations, when my delegation repaired to some woods not far from Moscow. A few weeks afterwards, following the breakdown of the discussions, the Moscow Press, who seem to have observed our innocent pastime, came out with an account of the 'orgies and strange pirouettes by the lakeside of the English delegation.'" Continuing his reminiscence, Mr. Wilson told this story:

"My second over was interrupted by a gentleman from the N.K.V.D. or Ogpu, who was appointed to follow us around and see that we came to no harm. He stood in the middle of the pitch and remonstrated with us in a very long Russian speech which I understood came to this--that we could not do that there there! He was supported by two men who came up on horseback with rifles. I persuaded him, after some negotiation, to take up his position at square leg, out of the way of even my bowling. The episode closed with the N.K.V.D. man's failure to make any attempt to catch a ball--and after that my opinion of the Russian secret police fell even lower." Mr. Wilson suggested that the incident should be recorded in Wisden as the "only case of a catch being missed at square leg by a member of the N.K.V.D. off an off-spinner by a visiting British minister."

© John Wisden & Co