Category Archives: Australia

The World Cup Effect (1987-1992)

Here’s part II of my World Cup Story.


The 1987 World Cup was the first staged outside England, so this could perhaps be regarded as the first time the tournament was a truly international event.  It was staged by India and Pakistan under the slogan “Cricket for Peace”, chosen in reflection of the turbulent relationship that had often existed between the two nations since the 1947 partition.  The title holders India, playing under home conditions, were favourites for victory closely followed by their co-hosts Pakistan – but again the event was won by the outsiders, this time Australia.  The final was played out between England and Australia, anti-British feeling left from the colonial days still ran high in parts of India and the crowd really got behind Australia which Australian Captain Allan Border acknowledge had been a big help and encouragement.  The victory was a real turning point for Australia, who had spent quite some time in the doldrums, and was the beginning of an extraordinary period of success for the national team.

With their own team out of the competition the Indian fans really got behind the Aussie outsiders.

With their own team out of the competition the Indian fans really got behind the Aussie outsiders.

WORLD CUP EFFECT 4 – The spirit of India gives Australia back it’s Mojo back – and it stayed in place for quite some time!

Dual hosts again for the 1992 World Cup, this time New Zealand and Australia.  Staged in the homeland of Kerry Packer this was the first World Cup to feature coloured clothing, white balls and floodlights.  Another notable feature of this tournament was that it marked South Africa’s return to the international cricketing fold after around 2 decades in the wilderness.  Their entry was actually quite last minute and the organisers had to rewrite the fixtures to accommodate them!

Wonderful picture of the colourfully dressed teams with a fantastic backdrop (although if you look carefully you'll notice the weather already looks pretty threatening!)

Wonderful picture of the colourfully dressed teams with a fantastic backdrop (although you might notice the weather already looks pretty ominous!)

Australia had had a busy summer of regular international cricket and had not made any allowances in schedule for the fact they were hosting the World Cup, therefore the tournament was played very late in the season and many matches were effected by rain.  These were the days before Duckworth/Lewis but for the tournament to progress results were needed so the ‘Rain Rule’ was introduced –

(a) The runs scored by the team batting second shall be compared with the runs scored by the team batting first from the equivalent number of highest scoring overs.

(b) If, due to a suspension of play, the number of overs in the innings of the team batting second has to be revised, their target score shall be the runs scored by the team batting first from the equivalent number of overs, plus one.

Confused?  I know I am!  An example of how (badly) it worked can be seen in one of the warm up games – India bowled out Victorian Country XI for just 156, India were then cruising nicely to their target at 129-3 after 31 overs when it began to rain hard…India were declared to have lost!  The unfairness of the rain rule was to be felt by teams throughout the tournament.

The new 'Rain Rule' lead to some very strange calculations.

The new ‘Rain Rule’ lead to some very strange calculations.

The victors this time were Pakistan.  Unlike India and Australia before them their victory did not herald a gold age in cricket for the nation but was to begin a period of marked decline.

WORLD CUP EFFECT 5 – lots of choice from this eventful World Cup but I’m going to go with the most obvious and visual – the bright lights and coloured clothing that was to change the look of international limited overs from that point on.

Next time:  What happened next?  The 1996 World Cup – I predict a riot.  

(Bibliography – Wisden History of the Cricket World Cup edited by Tony Cozier,  World Cup: Cricket’s Clash of the Titans by Peter Baxter)

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Filed under Australia, British Empire, Cricket, cricket balls, Cricket World Cup, England, India, one day cricket, Pakistan

Questions in the House

“It is surely right that the House should discuss the burning topic of the South African cricket tour, which has aroused such grave anxiety throughout this county…”

(MP Philip Noel-Baker, quoted in Hansard 14th May 1970)

As a boy Andrew Redfern caused a mini political scandal with his letter to a government minister – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/scandal-started-youth-cricket. The relationship between politics and cricket goes back along way, despite the desire of some to separate politics and sport.  Both are important parts of life stiring strong emotions so this ‘ideal’ rarely exists.

Tony Blair

Possibly the most famous incident of cricket and politics colliding was during the D’Olivera affair.  ‘Non-white’ cricketer Basil D’Oliveira was not selected for the test side due to tour South Africa 1968-69, despite having scored 158 not out against the Australians just a few days before the selection meeting.  The selection committee maintained that their decision was purely based on cricketing considerations including an assertion that D’Olivera’s style would not suit the South African conditions, but many suspected that the decision had more to do with ‘not rocking the boat’.  Under South African laws D’Olivera would not have been permitted to play on a South African tour.

“We will not allow mixed teams to play against our white teams here.”

(South African Minister of the Interior, January 1967)

His omission from the team drew the attention of the general public.  When another player dropped out of the tour due to injury there was great pressure on the MCC to replace him with D’Olivera, which they did – South African Prime Minister Vorster then banned the tour stating…

“It’s not the MCC team.  It’s the team of the anti-apartheid movement…it’s the team of political opponents of South Africa.  It is a team of people who don’t care about sports relations at all.”

In 1970 cricket was debated extensively in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.  A full account of the debates can be found in Hansard.

In 1970 cricket was debated extensively in the House of Commons and the House of Lords. A full account of the debates can be found in Hansard, these copies are from the MCC Archive.

The South African’s were due to tour England the following year, but the ‘Stop the Seventy Tour’ campaign was launched with protests and threats of direct action and the tour was eventually cancelled after a direct appeal to the Cricket Council from the Home Secretary James Callaghan.

This was not the first time politicians became involved in the game.  During the bodyline scandal the friendly relations existing between England and Australia were under threat as a sporting tactic transformed into a near diplomatic incident!  During the furious exchange of telegrams between the two cricket boards the press and politicians such as the Governor of South Australia Sir Alexander Hore-Ruthven and Stanley Baldwin also became invovled and it was alledge that there were formal discussions in the cabinet by both nations.  Why bodyline became so political is a murky issue, many members of the MCC committee had strong links to the Conservative Party which may have had some effect, also for some Australian nationalists the tactic was symbolic of English imperialistic and authoritarian attitudes.

Rather glib little momento of the 'Bodyline' series from the MCC Museum.  The series came close to upseting relations between two countries.

A rather glib little momento of the ‘Bodyline’ series from the MCC Museum. The series came close to upseting relations between two countries.

As in Andrew Redfern’s youth, the issue of cricket in state schools is still seen as a political issue today, especially as we live in a time when fewer players from working class origins reach the top than probably in any time of the cricket’s history (see previous post – Is cricket Posh?).  Many state schools do not have the space or facilities to provide cricket, and the problem was exacerbated by the sale of playing fields in the 1980s and 90s.

So whether it’s race, class or international relations cricket has often proved a political hot potato.

(Bibliography – Anyone but England: Cricket and the National Malaise by Mike Marqusee.  Bodyline by Philip Derriman.  Bodyline Autopsy by David Frith.  All available in the MCC Library)

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Filed under archive, Ashes series, Australia, British Empire, class, Cricket, digital stories, England, History, MCC, MCC, politics, school cricket, test cricket

Too late?

Last week I had my first go at cricket.  I’m 35 years old and have been a cricket fan for 8 years but until last week had never bowled, caught or hit a ball.  I have never intentionally avoided it, the opportunity just never arose, we didn’t play cricket at school, I never came across any friends playing in the park.  I’ve actually been eager to have a go for sometime, but until now have never known anyone who has the gear.

So how did it go?  Well I wasn’t very good!  The batting was OK, although I think my friend was bowling quite easy ones at me, I did really enjoy the batting I loved the feel and sound of leather striking willow with a nice firm thwack, and didn’t even mind that I ended up with bruises all over my right palm (probably due to poor technique).  The bowling was way harder.  It feels so weird having to keep your arm straight.  I founding attempting a run up too difficult, running while doing a windmill thing with my arms – my limbs wouldn’t stay coordinated.  I tried it without a run up but couldn’t seem to generate enough power to get the ball all the way down the pitch (22 yards is actually a really long way).  My friend eventually gave up trying to teach me a run up and let me bowl my balls from half way down the pitch, which made it easier.  I think I’m more of a batsman.

taking a shot

So what’s next for my cricketing career?  Have a left it too late to realise my obvious potential and take my talent on to the international stage?  I would have thought so…until I came across James Southerton while cataloguing some old photographs.  Our cataloguing team here at the MCC are working our way though a massive collection of old photos, some still currently completely uncatalogued.

J Southerton 2nd from left center row (with a rather sinister looking WG Grace 2nd from right)

J Southerton 2nd from left center row (with a rather sinister looking WG Grace 2nd from right)

I’ve been working on this rather marvelous photo of the United South of England Eleven taken in 1875.  I was entering the details of all the figures onto our persons index and was very interested to read that James Southerton was (and remains) the oldest test debutant.  He made his debut at the age of 49 years and 119 days!  He did OK too, taking 3 wickets in a match against Australia, he also played in the following test before retiring from the international game to run a pub.  The important thing is it means there’s hope for me.  If I spend the next 15 years sorting out my bowling action, get my limbs coordinated and manage to get the ball all the way to the other end maybe I could be the one to break his record.  It’s something to aim for.  Wish me luck!

James Southerton - he made his debut at an age that all international cricketers these days would have retired by!

James Southerton – he made his debut at an age that all international cricketers these days would have retired by!

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Filed under Australia, bowling, cataloguing, Cricket, Cricket records, England, History, MCC, test cricket, WG Grace, women's cricket

My Ashes

Here are some pictures from the last 4 days.

queen-2

The Queen!

I had to hang right out of the window to catch a glimpse of her.

I had to hang right out of the window to catch a glimpse of her.

The members queued all down the street to make sure they were among the first in the ground...

The members queued all down the street to make sure they were among the first in the ground…

...and then ran like mad to reserve a good seat!

…and then ran like mad to reserve a good seat!

...or a prime picnic spot.

…or a prime picnic spot.

Managed to find a great seat to watch a bit of cricket at the end of the day.

Managed to find a great seat to watch a bit of cricket at the end of the day.

Last minute team talk on day 4.

Last minute team talk on day 4.

After working here through the winter a full ground is just an amazing sight.

After working here through the winter a full ground is just an amazing sight.

(Pictures taken my myself and MCC Archivist Alan Rees)

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Filed under Ashes series, Australia, Cricket, cricket grounds, England, London, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, MCC, Queen, test cricket, WG Grace

The birth of “Carnival Cricket”

In a recent digital story Arjuna Ranatunga bemoans the dominance of ‘carnival cricket’ and the threat it poses to the longer form of the game.  http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/protecting-test-cricket .

I was surprised to learn that limited overs cricket didn’t really develop until the 1960s, and even then it would have looked very much like ‘normal’ cricket.  One-day cricket as we now know it, with music, coloured clothing, day-night matches etc could probably be accredited to Kerry Packer.

ODI

1975 Prudential World Cup semi-final. Games were played in traditional whites with the red ball and all matches were daytime matches.

In the very early days of cricket matches were often low scoring, meaning that they could often finish within a day with all 4 innings being bowled.  But as batting techniques improved 3 day games became the county norm.  One-day games were played during World War 2, usually fundraising events, but these matches depended on generous declarations rather than restricted overs to ensure a result within the day.  In 1956 a MCC research committee suggested a limited-overs county knockout competition be introduced to attract more spectators, but the suggestion wasn’t taken up.  It wasn’t until 1963 that a limited overs contest, the Gillette Cup, was finally launched and the world had to wait until 1971 for the first official international one-dayer – and even this only came about as a last resort to offer the crowds a meaningful contest after the first 3 days of a test match in Melbourne were rained off.

World Series cap worn by the Australians team, now part of the MCC museum collection.  Coloured caps and kit were a real novelty when they first appeared.

World Series cap worn by the Australians team, now part of the MCC museum collection. Coloured caps and kit were a real novelty when they first appeared.

It was Kerry Packer’s World Series in 1977 that seriously increased the profile of the shorter game.  Surrounded by a range of controversies this series introduced many of the now familiar features of limited-overs cricket including day night matches, coloured clothing and white balls.  I’m not sure whether Kerry Packer intended to invent all these new features.  He wanted to attract a big TV audience and knew the best way to do this was to have the cricket on in the evening and night primetime, so floodlights were needed, but the players had a problem seeing the red ball well under artificial light so it was changed to white, but then they couldn’t pick up the ball from the cricket whites so the next step was coloured clothing.   Not that I think all the changes had a practical origin, you only have to look at our collection of mementoes to realise that this was intended to be a livelier more colourful style of cricket!

WSC 'boob tube', also in the MCC collection.  Not sure if you'd get away with wearing that in the Lord's pavilion!

WSC ‘boob tube’, also in the MCC collection. Not sure if you’d get away with wearing that in the Lord’s pavilion!

Intentional or not Packer had a real and lasting impact on the world of cricket, and this was even recognised by some at the time.  Wring in 1978 Henry Blofeld stated –  “Already Packer has had a considerable effect on cricket, and if he were to disappear tomorrow his influence would remain.”

So is Test Cricket safe?  I certainly hope so and if the sell out crowd today at Lord’s is anything to go by then I think it will be safe for a while yet.

(Further reading –  One-Day Magic edited by Ken Piesse.  One-Day Cricket by David Lemmon.  The Packer Affair by Henry Blofeld. All available in the MCC library.

Cricket boob-tubes and many other unexpected exhibits can be seen in the MCC museum at Lord’s)

You shouldn't really put on museum objects - don't tell anyone!

You shouldn’t really put on museum objects – don’t tell anyone!

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Filed under Ashes series, Australia, Cricket, digital stories, England, History, Lord's Cricket Ground, MCC, MCC, one day cricket, war

from 11 to 1?

Number 11 debutante Agar is the top scorer in the Trent Bridge test so far.  So now seems like a good day to take a look at some batting 11s from history.

161653

Wilfred Rhodes was another left-arm spin bowler who started his career at a young age.   By the time he retired from the Yorkshire team he had scored a phenomenal 30,000 runs and taken an amazing 3,608 wickets for Yorkshire.  But it’s a feature of his international career I’m more interested in highlighting today.  During his career he held the record for both a first and last wicket partnerships!  In 1903 in the 1st test of an Ashes series he batted at number 11 and took part in a 1st innings last wicket stand of 130.  England went on to win the match.  8 years later he took part in another great partnership of 323 this time he was opening the batting.  Will Agar go on to achieve this?  Will he move up the batting until he’s the opener in the 2021 Ashes series?  Let’s wait and see.

Wilfred Rhodes going out to open the batting for Yorkshire in 1919.

Wilfred Rhodes going out to open the batting for Yorkshire in 1919.

 

(The idea and information for this blog were provided by MCC Research Officer Neil Robinson).

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Filed under Ashes series, Ashton Agar, Australia, Cricket, Cricket records, England, History, Wilfred Rhodes

Death of a Cricketer

Obviously a big death is in the news at the moment.  How we should remember her? what type of funeral? etc.  It’s got me thinking about death (cheery I know) and reminded me of the week I spent cataloging memorial and funeral service brochures.  Some of them were moving, some sad, some uplifting.  Here are a few of my favourites.

Larwood mem

As you may know if you read my ‘Villains?’ a few weeks ago Harold Larwood was a somewhat controversial figure due to the part he played in bodyline bowling.  Yet many believed his disgrace was ill deserved and the Rector’s words reflect this in the opening address.

“Harold lived as he bowled – honestly, steadfastly and wholeheartedly.  For various reasons, which are now part of the game’s history, he was not always appreciated but despite this he continued his spell with fortitude and preserved his own integrity.”

A very nicely put tribute I think.

Don Bradman mem

I like this one because it’s nice and joyful.  I love the picture on the front, it’s so 1930s and reminds me what incredible times this man saw (as well as being an incredible cricketer).  I think the cartoon on the back with the umpires signal of ‘out’ is touching and funny.

owzat DonMy very favourite though, makes me feel sad.

Hedley Verity mem

Unlike the first two, his life was cut short violently and prematurely   At just 38 he died in Italy as a prisoner of war from wounds received during an attack on a German battalion in Sicily.  Before he went missing in action his last known words were “keep going, keep going” urging his men on in the attack.  At first there was hope he might have survived his wounds and be in a prisoner of war camp but word was received of his death and the Telegraph & Argus paid this moving tribute on 2 September 1943…

Wherever good cricket is appreciated, wherever sportsmanship is accepted as an indication of character, wherever men are honoured not because they are wealthy or gifted, but because they are in the true sense of the word men, there will the name of Hedley Verity be ever respected.

The humble last resting place of Hedley Verity.

(Memorial and funeral service brochures are among the many interesting and quirky items that can be viewed in the Lord’s Museum, Archive and Library.  Catalogue available on-line soon.) As well as a brave and well respected man he was a great bowler with the best first-class average in his day and the only man to take 14 wickets in a single day in a test match.  His death was a terrible waste of talent.

Here’s me hunting for interesting things to show you.

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Filed under Australia, bowling, cataloguing, Cricket, death, England, History, injury, Librarianship, MCC