Scary red balls!

Poster from 1890.  Guess the lady batting looks a little bit frightened...

Poster from 1890. Guess the lady batting looks a little bit nervous…

I was listening to an  interview on our audio archive this morning.  Ken Medlock talks about all kinds of cricket related topics, ( http://mcc.adlibhosting.com/Details/archive/110000610), I was really interested by what he had to say about cricket balls and how they are made, during this section the interviewer David Rayvern Allen suddenly drops in a comment about blue cricket balls being used for the women’s game so ladies wouldn’t be frightened by the red balls!  A myth surely?  Like piano legs being covered up for decency’s  sake in Victorian times.  I had to find out – and found evidence that they did exist almost straight away.

According to an exhibition catalogue from a 1963 exhibition of women’s cricketana

“The BLUE BALL made specially by Alfred Reader at the request of Gamages Ltd. in 1897 to ensure that lady cricketers would not swoon at the sight of a red one did not prove practical as it could not be seen again the background of grass and sky.  Of interest is the fact that the weight of this ball, of which a limited supply was produced, is 5 ozs., the same as has been used by women cricketers since 1926.  The ball on exhibit is the only preserved memento of this curious experiment.”

Where is this ball?  We don’t have it, it doesn’t say who owned it in the catalogue – I want to see it!  If anyone has seen a blue ball can you let me know?  I would also like to hear from any ladies (or indeed gents) who have ever found themselves in a state of terror at the sight of a red ball.  This is all intriguing stuff!

fear

…actually, they ARE pretty frightening!

(Bibliography – 1745-1963: Exhibition of Women’s Cricketana by Molly Hide and Netta Rheinberg.)

Photography by Alan Rees.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under archive, bowling, Cricket, cricket balls, History, lady members, women's 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!

8 Comments

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

Neutral Attraction

Me at the Cowdrey Lecture.

Me at the Cowdrey Lecture.

I went to listen to Simon Taufel at the Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture last week (http://www.lords.org/news/2013/july/taufel-delivers-mcc-spirit-of-cricket-cowdrey-lecture/).  He had some pretty interesting things to say about umpiring, it really made me think about how difficult it must be, especially with all those cameras on you looking for your next mistake!  He talked a bit about neutral umpiring, quite a recent development in the international game (1994).  Of course at club level, where finding a volunteer to umpire at all can be difficult, neutral umpiring rarely happens.  Most of the clubs I’ve visited haven’t had too much trouble with umpire bias, although this story offers a possible exception – http://www.takingthefield.com/stories/1960s-club-bowling-legend-bert-davies-and-7-lbws-one-innings – the story features an umpire who gave his son-in-law 7 successful LBW appeals in one innings, but perhaps he was just bowling particularly well that day!  The point Simon Taufel made wasn’t that umpires would be biased towards their own countries, but that neutral umpiring was important as it took away that suspicion.

Mike Gatting and Eoin Morgan joined Simon Taufel on stage for questions after his lecture.  Mike Gatting was a particularly interesting choice of speaker as he was involved in a major controversy involving umpiring a few years before neutral umpiring was made compulsory.  The incident occurred in December 1987, England were playing the 2nd test of the series against Pakistan in Faisalabad.  There had been tension during the day when Pakistani umpire Shakoor Rana had rejected a bat pad appeal, but things did not escalate until the last over of the day.  Shakoor Rana accused Mike Gatting of moving a fielder after the bowler had begun his run up in order to distract the batsman.  Gatting disagreed and an angry exchange of swearwords and aggressive gestures from both parties was the result (all observed on camera and broadcast across the world!).

37593

Photographer Graham Morris captures the moment – an image that was seen around the world.

Both parties retreated to their ‘camps’ and overnight it was established that Shakoor would refuse to stand the next day without an apology and that Gatting would not apologies unless Shakoor apologised too for his part in the incident.  Neither would budge and so the third day of play was abandoned.

On the evening of what would have been the third day Gatting received instruction from the TCCB in London that he should apologies, which he duly did reluctantly in the form of a short hand written note.

Dear Shakoor  Rana, I apologize for the bad language used during the second day of the Test match at Faisalabad.  Mike Gatting.

And so the match was able to continue and ended in a draw (which was perhaps the best outcome in the circumstances).

In most other sports an argument between a player and official on the pitch would not be so much of a big deal, but respect for the umpire has always been seen as vital to the spirit of cricket.  The event had a big impact on the cricketing world and renewed pleas for neutral umpires.

The idea of total respect for umpires is an interesting concept and one many cricketers were raised with as children.   Yet umpires are only human and do make mistakes, and where does the ideal leave DRS, a process that involves players challenging the umpires decision?  Simon’s lecture didn’t really answer this questions and the role of the umpire will probably go on being discussed for as long as cricket is played (even after they’ve all been replaced by hawkeye/hotspot enabled robots!)

MCCPHO01898

8 Comments

Filed under cheating, Cricket, DRS, England, History, Mike Gatting, neutral umpires, Pakistan, Simon Taufel, test cricket, Umpiring, umpiring

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)

6 Comments

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!

1 Comment

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).

2 Comments

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

Test One Day One – Poem One

The Wrong'un at Long On

A debut for Agar

A chance for Finn

A batting paradise!

A great toss to win!

Captain Cook and young Root

Bats and pads

Striding out from the pavilion

Our proud English Lads!

Patto one end

Starc the other

Cook edged behind

Root looked in no bother

Siddle the workhorse

Bowled his usual dross

Yet with terrible shots

English wickets were cost

Two hundred and fifteen

A suitable first day’s rebuff

A sub-par score

It didn’t look enough.

An injury to Broad

Finn with the new ball

Boom! Two in two

Watto and Cowan fall

Captain Clarke in

Not for long!

Jimmy the Jaffer

Off stump singing a song

Rogers leg-before

Could the decision have been meaner?

Surely heading down leg?!!

Unless your name’s Dharmasena…

View original post

Leave a comment

Filed under Cricket