Tag Archives: British Empire

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

Cricket in strange places

Members of Darjeeling Cricket Club, based in Dubai.

Members of Darjeeling Cricket Club, based in Dubai.

This week I added a new club to the TTF site – http://www.takingthefield.com/clubs/darjeeling-cricket-club – Darjeeling Cricket Club is the first from United Arab Emirates to feature on the site.  Dubai, where they are based, is not traditionally a cricketing city, although recently they have hosted some international games involving Pakistan.  They have also hosted the annual Chiang Mai International Cricket Sixes popular amateur cricket contest (http://www.chiangmaisixes.com/) based in Thailand – and I certainly didn’t know cricket was a big thing over there.

There have been many efforts to spread cricket to every corner of the globe, with mixed success.  Obviously some commonwealth nations have entirely embraced it and made it their own, India, Australia and South Africa etc, other parts of the commonwealth not so much, i.e. Canada.  Ovington’s own Liam Herringshaw experienced the introduction of cricket to Newfoundland you can read more about it here – http://theindependent.ca/2013/02/15/how-to-seduce-newfoundlanders-into-liking-cricket/.  Cricket in Canada is nothing new however, it’s been played there for a long time it’s just never really taken off in a big way (I think the cold weather might well have played a part!).  MCC toured there quite a bit throughout the last century and we have scorecards in the archive to prove it.

Score book from MCC's 1937 tour of Canada.  This is the score of MCC v All Toronto 2nd August 1937.

Score book from MCC’s 1937 tour of Canada. This is the score of MCC v All Toronto 2nd August 1937.

Cricket did used to be quite healthy in the USA.  The world’s 1st dedicated cricket magazine was an American publication and there were a lot of early English tours to the States but then baseball took over and cricket was consigned to being a quirky minority sport.

The American Cricketer ran from 1877-1929.  The world's first cricket magazine.  We have a full set in the MCC library.

The American Cricketer ran from 1877-1929. The world’s first cricket magazine. We have a full set in the MCC library.

Heading down to South America we find a similar scene, cricket was once very popular in some places, particularly Argentina – but football is now very much the dominant sport in that continent.

The MCC team about to set off on their long voyage to South America and a programe from their 1926 tour to Argentina.  From Gubby Allen's scrap book, now held in the MCC archive.

The MCC team about to set off on their long voyage to South America and a programe from their 1926 tour to Argentina. From Gubby Allen’s scrap book, now held in the MCC archive.

And what about Europe?  The Netherlands and Ireland have quite a lively cricket scene, but I’m not sure it’s made much progress elsewhere beyond a few ex-pat clubs scattered about.

Cricket is played in places you might not expect - Here's France's national cricket team tie.

Cricket is played in places you might not expect – Here’s France’s national cricket team tie.

I love to hear from more people who play cricket in ‘strange’ places, or from any of you who have any theories as to why it flourishes in some nations but not others.

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Filed under archive, British Empire, Cricket, MCC, UAE

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

Villains?

A few words about the men who cause the brave cricketers' injuries.

A few words about the men who cause the ‘brave’ cricketers’ injuries.

Last week I dealt with the heroics of cricketers who played on in-spite of nasty injuries.  But what about the cricketers who cause injury to others?  The villains (depending on you point of view!).  Here are a few possible candidates.

Grievous Bodily Harmison –  On the first day of the Ashes 2005 Stephen Harmison took 5-43 in an extremely aggressive spell.  He hit Justin Langer on the elbow, broken Matthew Hayden’s helmet and smashed the grille on Ponting’s helmet causing a dramatic looking gash on his cheek.  Ricky Pointing recalls the moment in his Ashes Diary

“There was no pain, just a ringing feeling as the impact of the blow reverberated around my head.  I felt fine, but pretty quickly I began to feel something trickling down the side of my face, and when I looked at my shirt I could see bloody dripping onto it.”

A delighted Steve Harmison celebrates Damien Martyn's wicket

It was generally felt that England were attempting to show intent with this aggression.  It was not only the style of bowling that was aggressive but it was noticeable that Harmison did not approach any of the Australian batsmen to see if they were OK after they had been struck.  It was also felt that England were being unnecessarily aggressive in the field when throwing the ball at the stumps while the batsman was in his ground – Pointing accused Vaughan and his team of “macho posturing”.

So is Steve Harmison a villain?  Steve Harmison himself was later to describe the moment as one of the worst of his career.  And he was not referring to the balls he bowl but the fact he failed to show the courtesy of checking that the batsmen were alright.  I do sort of agree with him, it’s always nice to see good manners even in the heat of battle.  On the other hand I doubt Ponting would have welcomed his concern, in another match he was hit by Matt Prior while fielding at silly point, Prior asked if he was OK and Pointings reply was apparently a colourful range of expletives!   England were attempting to show a different, more competitive side and I think they went too far.  I won’t condemn Harmison as a villain however, as he has shown remorse, just a temporary bully.  What do you think?

The cut required 8 stitches.

The cut required 8 stitches.

The West Indian Pace Quartets – these men were not only accused of bullying bowling tactics but of altering the whole game of cricket for the worse!

“Until we can breed 7 ft monsters willing to break bones and shatter faces, we cannot compete against these threatening West Indians.  Even the umpires seem be scared that devilish-looking Richards might put a voodoo sign on them!” (from a letter to Wisden Cricket Monthly, June 1990)

“Their game is founded on vengeance and violence and is fringed by arrogance.” (David Frith. editor of Wisden Cricket Monthly, 1991)

Bloody Windies! England tour of terror.’ (News of the World headline 1994)

The main accusation against the West Indian team was that they relied on violence and fear to get wickets rather than skill.  And that this tactic resulted in games than were less interesting to watch as they lacked bowling variety.  Fast aggressive bowling was nothing new but their speed and their use of four fast bowlers rather than the more traditional two gave batsmen little respite from the onslaught.

Mike Gatting had lost part of his nose after being hit in the face by a ball from Marshall

Mike Gatting lost part of his nose after being hit in the face by a ball from Marshall

So were these players villains?  Injuries were caused but then injuries have always been a feature of cricket as last week’s blog demonstrated, did they deserve the special vilification they sometimes attracted?  The allegation that they relied on terror is under serious dobt, the introduction of the one-bouncer per over rule in 1991 did little to dent the team’s success rate, so arguments that the relied on intimidation and lacked talent appear unfounded.   As to intimidation and aggression these are a traditional tactics to restrict a batsman’s scoring options, and unlike with Bodyline (see below), the fields set did give talented batsmen some scoring options.

Michael Holding bowling

“It would be naive and misleading of me to claim that I never bowl bouncers without trying to intimidate the batsmen. On the contrary, I want him to be aware that if he gets on the front foot against me he might find himself in trouble – in other words he might get hurt. But that is quite a different thing from actually wanting or intending to hurt him. I have no desire to hurt anyone.” (Michael Holding)

I don’t think the West Indies pace attacks were villains, just talented aggressive fast bowlers.  I also find the arguments of Savidge and McLellan quite convincing, in that much of the criticism levelled  at the West Indian quicks was tinged with jealousy, sour grapes, and at times, racism.

The Bodyliners – Now for the big one!  Possibly the most vilified group of cricketers in cricketing history.

So bad they almost caused an international incident! - Cable from the ABC to MCC.

So bad they almost caused an international incident! – Cable from the ABC to MCC.

Described as ‘leg theory’ by it’s proponents but more commonly know as ‘bodyline’ – bodyline bowling involves the bowler pitching the ball short and directed at the batsman’s torso or head while the majority of fielders are places on the leg-side.  It wasn’t a new technique, it was often used to restrict runs, what was different in the 1932-33 Ashes was the speed at which the ball was being bowled by Harold Larwood and Bill Voce greatly increasing the chance of injury to the batsmen.  During the series most Australian batsmen were struck resulting in a number of injuries.  It was thought captain Douglas Jardine chose to using this controversial style of bowling in an attempt to restrain the mighty Don Bradman.

So was there villainy afoot?  And if so who were the villains?  Amateur captain Jardine the mastermind, or professional bowlers Voce and Larwood who followed his orders to the letter?  Or none of them?  Or all three?

Jardine is often seen as the most likely candidate of the three for villainy.  An old school amateur cricketer, upper-class and utterly unapologetic about his choice of ‘win at all costs’ tactics.  Larwood also comes in for heavy criticism especially as he was the one who bowled the ball which hit Australian Captain Woodfull over the heart leaving him reeling in agony.

"the most unsportsmanlike act ever witnessed on an Australian ground." Selector Bill Johnson's verdict on that Larwood delivery.

“the most unsportsmanlike act ever witnessed on an Australian ground.” Selector Bill Johnson’s verdict on that Larwood delivery.

It does seem, however, that the Australians forgave Larwood, he eventually emigrated to Australia and was well received.  Perhaps the former miner was a more likeable figure than the reticent upper-class Jardine.

The bodyline incident was a very unpleasant event in the history of cricket.  Larwood is hard to condemn as a villain, he was treated appallingly by the MCC post-bodyline and physically paid a high price for following his captain’s orders.  Jardine is harder to forgive so I’ve decided that he does qualify for a degree of villainy.

Finally – not a causer of injury, but the biggest villain of the bunch!  I was reading a story which I thought might be a strong contender for inclusion in my blog on heroes.  In 1919 in a match between Sussex and Somerset the scores were level with Sussex 9 wickets down, their number 11, H J Heygate, had problems with rheumatism and was crippled with pain.  But he bravely hobbled out to the wicket as he knew his team needed him.  He arrived at the crease and Somerset’s L. Braund immediately appealed to the umpire.  Heygate was given out as it had taken him longer than 2 minutes to arrive at the crease and the game was declared a draw to the disgust of the crowd.  Now that really wasn’t cricket.  What a villain!

bowler

(Further reading : Ashes Diary 2005 by Ricky Ponting & Brian Murgatroyd, Real Quick: A Celebration of the West Indies Pace Quartets by Michele Savidge & Alastair McLellan, Cricket’s Hall of Shame by Dave Warner – all available in the MCC library)

NB – This post was inspired by philgreaney.wordpress.com

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Filed under Australia, bowling, British Empire, Cricket, England, History, injury, MCC, Umpiring, West Indies

“…no foreigner understands.”

Another busy week cataloguing, working on taking the field and crawling around on the floor.  I’ve been working on a digital story from Kushil Gunashera who works with the charity Foundation of Goodness (http://www.takingthefield.com/clubs/foundation-goodness).  He talks about his experiences of playing school cricket in Sri Lanka and about how passionate the crowds were who followed cricket enthusiastically even when Sri Lanka didn’t have test status.  I wonder what they would have made of an article I found this week which states that cricket “…can be played in it’s proper form by Englishmen only.”

This fascinating article was taken from a series of booklets called ‘The British Empire in World Politics’, published in 1940 by the German Institute for Foreign Political Research.  They were commissioned partly in the spirit of know your enemy and also perhaps because Hitler saw the British Empire as a possible model for a German empire and wanted to understand it better – either way it was felt that the British couldn’t possibly be fully understood without a study of cricket.  I’m not sure how successful they were!

Here are a few highlights

“The game of cricket is something which, according to an Englishman, no foreigner understands.  If he should try and give the impression that he does understand, the Englishman has only an ironical smile for him.”

“A man who proves himself a really good cricketer…and who can repeatedly score a century (that is 100 points) is assured of a great future in the British Empire.”

“If the Americans had kept cricket as a national game, the English would not have regarded them as semi-savages.”

“It is a game which requires not only a measure of bodily adroitness, not only the ability to put up with painful contusions and injuries , not only a certain courage, but above all things the strength to suffer boredom, the ability to cultivate a beautiful but idle figure on the green.”

“If an Englishman conversing affably about sport in Germany to a man who originates from the expanse of the European Continent asks quite incidentally ‘But don’t you play cricket in Germany?’ and if the German then harmlessly says ‘No’ and perhaps replies ‘But we play football, though’, the German has then lowered himself to the lowest rung on the English ladder.”

So what do you reckon?  Have they understood the essence of cricket and how it relates to Englishness?

These matches played in 1937 shows that at least some Germans must have a decent understanding of cricket…

…although the Berliners did lose all three matches by large margins, perhaps they hadn’t quite the same ‘strength to suffer boredom’ as their English competitors!

(Article supplied by Andrew Trigg at the MCC library).

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Filed under British Empire, Cricket, Germany, Librarianship, Sri Lanka