I’m in a very bad mood today. It’s a damp day outside, I had to endure England’s dismal batting performance into the early hours and I have a sore toe – I’m fed up and uninspired! I don’t want to be at work I want to be in bed, or slumped on the sofa with the curtains closed playing my new Lara Croft game. I’ve been in a bad mood all week, the pain in my toe has caused me to limp, having a knock on effect of causing me to strain some kind of muscle in my leg. I’m miserable, I feel sorry for myself, it’s all going wrong so I think I need some tales of cricket heroism and stoicism to help me keep going!
I’ve found three tales of bravery and endurance to bring to you today, but hope this will inspire you to think of loads more and to send to me to give me encouragement in my difficult hour.
Going back to 1984 we have Paul Terry who batted with a broken arm (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/63378.html). At first glance his efforts don’t appear all that heroic, scoring just 7 runs in the first innings, absent hurt in the second and his side crashing to defeat by an innings and 64 runs. But a closer look shows his 7 runs allowed Lamb to get his century. It was an effort for his team-mate – a heroic gesture in a lost cause!
For our next heroic tale we go back to 1963 (http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62930.html ). An England v West Indies broken arm batting performance again, this time from Colin Cowdrey. His arm was broken while he was batting on the fourth day, he retired hurt and went for treatment, but then on the fifth day with 2 balls to go and England desperately trying to hold out for a draw on 228 for 9 (still 6 runs behind) he was needed again! He came out to the crease, his arm in plaster ready to do his duty – luckily he didn’t have to face a ball – but he was ready to do his bit – what a man! He describes the moment in his autobiography …
“So with six runs needed and two balls to go I walked out to the wicket. Although I later saw photographs of myself looking very grave I felt confident that even if I had to face a couple of overs I could keep the ball out of my wicket one-handed.”
For our final hero we go all the way back to 1836, a time when cricketers played without pads and when men were men (if this tale is anything to go by!) The player was Alfred Mynn, the match North v South at Leicester played before a capacity crowd. During the pre-match practise Mynn was hit hard by the ball in the ankle, he returned to his lodgings where a doctor strapped up his ankle for him and things didn’t seem too bad. His side, the South, batted all day and he wasn’t needed. The next day he felt much better and came into bat with a runner at 8. He batted well and even forgot his runner at times! Patrick Morrah describes it in his biography of Mynn.
“His innings started with a minor comedy that kept the spectators in good humour…once he started hitting he forgot all about his leg and his runner…Mynn hit the ball away, and he, Wenman and Taylor all charged up the pitch…the same thing happened several times.”
He scored 21 not out, but his ankle began to feel worse, he struggled bowling, but did bowl and even took the final wicket!
“Next morning Mynn’s leg had swollen to an alarming extent, and it was painful for him to walk. Almost any other player would have dropped out of the match, but Alfred would play as long as he could stand, and he was determined to bat.”
This innings there was no comedy running and his agony was evident, yet he scored a magnificent 125 not out. Throughout his innings his poor leg was bashed by the ball again and again, but he refused to retire and batted five hours. When the innings ended he staggered to the tent and received medical attention. The doctor was shocked by the state of his leg… “the leg was so swollen and inflamed that it seemed impossible that any man so disabled could have stood up for so long.” The doctor told him to go home, where he could receive the best medical attention. His home was in Kent and there was a coach about to leave for London, but the big man, unable to bend his leg, was not able to fit into the coach and had to lay flat on the roof rack for the entire journey!
When he got to London he was taken to a tavern, too ill to travel further. For some time his condition was so serious that he was thought unlikely to live. And then when he recovered slightly a doctor who assessed his injury recommended amputation of the leg from the hip! He refused this operation, and did recover, although it was 2 years before he was able to return to the cricket field.
N.B.What happened to Mynn was a major factor in cricket pads becoming more acceptable and no longer being viewed as unsporting or unmanly.
Inspirational stuff! And it’s left me feeling rather ashamed of my complaints about my toe.
(Further reading: ‘M.C.C. the Autobiography of a Cricketer’ by Colin Cowdrey. ‘Alfred Mynn and the Cricketers of his time’ by Patrick Morrah. Both books available in the MCC library.)