Notes by the Editor, 1980

Moving the goalposts

Much against my will, it has been decided by the publishers of Wisden to delete from the Records the five unofficial Tests played in England against the Rest of the World in 1970.

I would emphasise that ten years ago these matches were broadcast by the BBC and ITV, published by the newspapers throughout Great Britain, and sold to the public as Test Matches as advised by the Test and County Cricket Board. The International Cricket Conference at their meeting at Lord's in 1972 reaffirmed that matches played between England and the Rest of the World in 1970 were not official Tests and should not be included in the Test match records. The two countries which dug their toes in on this issue were Australia and West Indies, although I have always understood that Sir Garfield Sobers, who captained the Test, accepted that office only because the matches would be played as Test matches.

It was only at the last moment that the tour by South Africa to England that year was cancelled when the Cricket Council's hand was forced by Mr James Callaghan, the Home Secretary. In this critical situation sponsors were sought, and discovered in the great brewing firm of Guinness, who, on the understanding that these contests should be accorded the dignity of unofficially Tests, underwrote the five matches to the tune of £20,000 - a big sum in those far-off days. It was Sobers as captain, Freddie Brown as manager and Leslie Ames who chose the Rest teams from the many talented overseas players engaged in county cricket. The cricket played that year by the two teams was some of the finest ever seen in England. It had all the fervour of a Test occasion. Considering how much money all their Test opponents have taken back from England over the years, how interdependent both financially and in other ways, it was strange that they should be so mean and narrow-minded on this unique occasion.

There is no copyright on the term "Test match". The first known use of the words occurred in Australia in W. J. Hammersley's Victorian Cricketer's Guide 1861-62 when referring to five matches played on the first visit of an English team under H. H. Stephenson against Victoria, New South Wales, and Combined Victoria and NSW.

© John Wisden & Co