Rules-based cricket disorder

Written By: - Date published: 10:22 pm, July 6th, 2023 - 12 comments
Categories: class, class war, culture, Ethics, inequality, racism, Satire, sport, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

“It isn’t cricket” supposedly set the ethical standard around the British Empire for over a century. Last week saw Lords, the ‘home of cricket,’ validate a damning report about racism, elitism, classism and sexism in British cricket just days after it was issued.

The facts were simple. England’s  last recognised batsman, Johnny Bairstow, also their wicket-keeper, dozily wandered out of his crease and was the victim of a long-range stumping by Alex Carey, his Australian counterpart.  All within the rules, and he had tried the same trick on Australian batsman David Warner in their first innings.

“The spirit of cricket” was then invoked to say ‘let him stay.’ But the Australian captain, Pat Cummins, didn’t play Englishball. The crowd booed, and classism, elitism and racism were on full display in the hallowed Lords Long Room as the garishly-striped members jostled and abused the Australians as they passed through on the way to their dressing-room. Usman Khawaja – he’s brown – called out a couple of members and it is likely that heads will roll. Oh what tragedy, the waiting list for membership at Lords is measured, like its Roll of Honour, in centuries.

That other great English trait, hypocrisy, was on full display in the baying crowd. But what a hoot, and  a cartoonist’s delight for Antpodeans. Here’s Aussie cartoonist First Dog on the Moon in the Guardian:

But it also reminded me of one of my great reading loves when I was growing up – the story of the village cricket match in Canadian satirist A. G. Macdonell’s England Their England.

I had great pleasure in reading it again today. Lords was caricatured:

“Mr Hodge the captain “turned up at twenty-five minutes past 11, resplendent in flannels, a red-and-white football shirt with a lace-up collar, and a blazer of purple-and-yellow stripes, each stripe being at least two inches across, and surmounted by a purple-and-yellow cap that made him somehow reminiscent of one of the Michelin twins.”

“Mr. Hodge, having won the toss by a system of his own founded upon the differential calculus and the Copernican theory, sent in his opening pair to bat. One was James Livingstone, a very sound club cricketer, and the other one was called, simply, Boone. Boone was a huge, awe-inspiring colossus of a man, weighing at least eighteen stone and wearing all the majestic trappings of a Cambridge Blue. Donald felt that it was hardly fair to loose such cracks upon a humble English village until he fortunately remembered that he, of all people, a foreigner, admitted by courtesy to the National Game, ought not to set himself up to be a judge of what is, and what is not, cricket.

I particularly liked the blacksmith fast bowler:

“The second ball went full-pitch into the wicket-keeper’s stomach and there was a delay while the deputy wicket-keeper was invested with the pads and gloves of office. The third ball, making a noise like a partridge, would have hummed past Mr. Livingstone’s left ear had he not dexterously struck it out of the ground for six, and the fourth took his leg bail with a bullet-like full-pitch. Ten runs for one wicket, last man six. The professor got the fifth ball on the left ear and went back to the Three Horseshoes, while Mr. Harcourt had the singular misfortune to hit his wicket before the sixth ball was even delivered.

Ten runs for two wickets and one man retired hurt. A slow left-hand bowler was on at the other end, the local rate-collector, a man whose whole life was one of infinite patience and guile. Off his first ball the massive Cambridge Blue was easily stumped, having executed a movement that aroused the professional admiration of the Ancient who was leaning upon his scythe. Donald was puzzled that so famous a player should play so execrable a stroke until it transpired, later on, that a wrong impression had been created and that the portentous Boone had gained his Blue at Cambridge for rowing (mine was boxing) and not for cricket.

Three more tests to go – should be fun.

12 comments on “Rules-based cricket disorder ”

  1. ianmac 1

    Oh I say Smithy old chap. Your words are not cricket you know!

  2. Sanctuary 2

    W.G. Grace's none-too-chivalrous act in running out Sammy Jones in the 1882 Test Match was the start of all this unseemly behaviour.

    Grace also famously refused to be given out LBW, telling the umpire "They came to see me bat, not you umpire."

  3. SPC 3

    Offended by the display of wicket theft by the colonials, the empire awoke and brought back the imperial wood pieces of 8 (repentance for being asleep at Lords – Woakes is the only player to have a batting average over 50 and bowling average under 15 at the ground).

    But despite this return to form for the empire, the horror of marshmallow root beside the keeper from lunch until tea (preventing a cat of nine tails whipping by wood and woakes) and more insolence from captainship cummins kept the colonials in the game.

    This series is a return to the cricket Australians are renowned for. Winning any way they can, regardless of nicety and sporting conduct. From Cameron, rubbing the ball on the sandpaper to Cameron, of rubbing the ball on the grass. The pretence that Warner and Smith could become gentlemen was always preposterous. And Cummins has confessed to the nature of the team he leads.

    As the renowned sage of the game put it, when he was but a corrupt colonial youth he also stole wickets, but once he matured into captaincy he repented and as imperial coach expects players to adhere to the spirit of bazball

    PS (the exceptions to spirit of Bazball include colonial players being run out during an lbw appeal at Lords – 2022 – MCC our values, our game).

    • SPC 3.1

      Meanwhile in the Australian, the oi oi oi rag simply said, that Headingly was shocked when bazball was mocked by the "one day cricket finals are played once every 4 years" innings of Marsh. The best bowling of the Ashes series by England and Marsh used it to prepare for the One Day World Cup later in the year.

  4. Muttonbird 4

    Bairstow didn't, "dozily wander out of his crease", he had a deliberate routine which the crims saw and, being morally bereft by nature, felt they should exploit.

    Grant Elliott

    @grantelliottnz

    Best video I have seen of the routine Bairstow has after leaving a delivery. Hmmmm I know what I would have done as captain. Thoughts? #AUSvsENG

    https://twitter.com/grantelliottnz/status/1675968451930894338

    • SPC 4.1

      McCallum once did the same to Collingwood, but Vettori recalled him back to the crease.

  5. AB 5

    Calling bullshit on this. No way was Bairstow attempting to take a run, nor had he advanced down the wicket to hit the ball and missed. So neither a run out or stumped were genuine dismissals. He wandered down to pat at the pitch., an almost reflexive thing that batsmen under stress do to settle themselves. It was akin to making an appeal for "handled the ball" when a batsmen picks up a ball that is lying harmlessly on the ground and tosses it to the nearest fielder as a courtesy. All very good to mock the English for pomposity and hypocrisy, go for it. But the Australians are well-established as the biggest cheats in the game, and foul-mouthed opportunists as well. It's a cultural thing that you can see equally clearly in other aspects of Australian life.

  6. Dennis Frank 6

    As someone who has followed international rugby & cricket since the mid-1950s, I'm rather bemused by the above comments. Morality aside, players are meant to attend both rules & umpires/referees. If you are given out by game officials, you're out. Pointless to argue. Them's the rules. Get over it!

  7. Terry 7

    I remember that infamous one day match when Chappel bowled the last ball underarm. That was “within” the rules as well…

  8. Mike the Lefty 8

    Cricket was originally a game for the upper class British, a "gentleman's" game, thus they would stand around in their starched whites enjoying themselves whilst their servants carried the drinks and prepared the cucumber sandwiches.

    The adoption of cricket by the Australian ex-cons, the New Zealand farmers and the West Indian ex-slaves kind of put a dent into it as a game for aristocrats only.

    "It just isn't cricket" is a paraphrase for aristocrats not wanting to be seen treating their peers like they treat anyone else they consider is beneath them.

    And cricket being a gentleman's game is a myth, but the myth keeps going because there are plenty of people who want to believe it.

    By the way, I actually love the game of cricket and would still play it if I were able.

  9. Binders full of women 9

    Cummins answer was gold….will they resort to underarm bowling? "Depends on the pitch " that said I hate Oz cricket as much as the ABs.

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