Cricket Time Machine

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Cricket Time Machine

Postby The Professor » Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:02 pm

What if you had a cricket time machine?

What would you do?

Where would you go?

Well, climb aboard my Cricket TARDIS as I take you to some of the places I’d be keen to visit.
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Re: Cricket Time Machine

Postby The Professor » Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:03 pm

First off is an unusual one – much like the TV series ‘Doctor Who’ took viewers back to the dawn of time in the first episode, I want to take you back to the dawn of modern Cricket.

Cricket goes back a long way. It’s first mention in ‘The Times’ came from as far back as 1785 but unofficial games went back even further than that. However I would date the start of cricket as we know it today to September 1871 where the first superstar of cricket went on his first overseas tour.

The Doctor (Grace this time….not Who) arrived on foreign shores for the first time in this year. His destination? Not Australia, as you would expect, but instead a tour of Canada and the United States of America. The drive to make cricket appeal to America is by no means a new thing – however this tour came up with the same issues we see to this day; lack of interest and gulf in class.

Whereas other representative England XIs had been a ragtag bunch of amateurs this touring party had been established to be as close to the best of the best as you could muster in that day and age. What was more, this was a handy mix of professionals and amateurs – something that previous tours had not managed to achieve. By this point W.G Grace was already a very well-known figure and was the driving force behind the tour being bankrolled by the Montreal Club. He was also keener to take up such lucrative overseas tours due to the death of his father the previous year, forcing him to bankroll his own medical training and support his mother. He was joined by other notable figures such as (the not quite yet) Lord Harris and A.N. Hornby who would go on to feature in the inaugural Test match at the Oval 7 years later.

Unsurprisingly, W.G. Grace was the star of the show despite suffering from terrible sea-sickness that he hadn’t fully recovered from when the games started. It must have been frustrating to be as good as he was. His highest score came in Toronto where he scored 142 across the 3rd and 4th of September. The highest score of any other Englishman was 30. Despite his illness Grave had fond memories of the tour, referring to it as “a prolonged and happy picnic” in his autobiography.

Another one of the players who came in for special mention was the wicket keeper Cuthbert Ottoway. Just as his wicket-keeping was deemed to be of a very high standard, he was also becoming an increasingly competent batsman. Earlier in 1872 he had shared a 150 run stand with Grace in a Gentlemen v Players match which set him in good stead for this tour. Ottoway was a talented sportsman and, on his return to England, became the first official captain of the England football team in a fixture against Scotland in the November of 1872. His cricketing ability went from strength to strength and culminated with him finishing fourth in terms of batting averages in 1876. He would have been a certainty to have featured in the inaugural Test match if it was not for his premature death in 1878 aged 27 – potentially from tuberculosis.

The magazine ‘Land and Water’ described the tour, and others like it, in scathing terms: “There is, perhaps, no real use in these cricketing voyages; they only tell us what we knew before – that there is no such thing as making any handicap which shall bring together first-rate and third-rate cricketers” which is another opinion not too far devoid from what we accuse the ICC of thinking to this day.

Despite the gulf in class, I would consider this a fascinating series of matches to see. The beginnings of the beginning and an opportunity to see the last generation of players to play the game before the formalisation of Test cricket.
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Re: Cricket Time Machine

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Wed Jan 01, 2020 11:20 pm

Fascinating to be able to experience the US at this time of course, not long after the civil war, during the time of the wild west while technology was transforming the great cities.

I guess mine would be the most common choice- Bodyline. Not just for the chance to see Larwood and Bradman and feel the politics, but to see the Aussie cities when they probably felt more like frontier towns (especially during the depression) than the metropolises of today.

But in second place I'd select one that I could conceivably gone to in that I was alive, England's tour of WI in 1990 under Gooch, not so much for off field consideration (maybe better to see WI beat England in the Guyana of 1939 with Headley and Constantine or 1954 with Ramadhin and Valentine) but because it was such a great series.
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Re: Cricket Time Machine

Postby Durhamfootman » Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:39 pm

nice work Prof

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Re: Cricket Time Machine

Postby DiligentDefence » Sat Jan 04, 2020 12:12 pm

1960-61 WI tour of Australia for the closeness of series and games. Being a neutral I could just enjoy the cricket.
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Re: Cricket Time Machine

Postby Durhamfootman » Thu Jan 09, 2020 9:11 pm

I think I'd like to have seen this..... it's part of the folklore up here

https://www.ashbrookesports.org/post/as ... une-9-1926

1926 Australian tour

final warm up match ahead of the first ashes test at the Oval

1/- entry fee

miners strike

(probably one bar and one toilet)

25,000 turned up to watch. 25,000.... that's 10,000 more than turned up at the Oval a week later, and exactly the sort of thing that would never be allowed to happen these days....... for all sorts of reasons, valid and corporate
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Re: Cricket Time Machine

Postby The Professor » Sat Jan 18, 2020 11:54 pm

My second journey in my Cricket Time Machine sees me leave an England team beating all comers in their last unofficial tour to them being humbled by an Australia team for the first time. We find ourselves in Australia in 1921.

This is, of course, not the first time England had been beaten by the old enemy. Australia had won seven Ashes series before the 1920s; including a series of four successive losses between 1897 and 1902.

So what makes 1921 so noteworthy? Well, it was the first time that an English cricket fan would have felt that gut-wrenching heart-stopping terror of a seemingly strong Test side being utterly devastated by an Australian team. It was also the first ever five Test whitewash in Test Cricket history.
The tour was the first matches to be given Test status since the cessation of The Great War three years previously – and the team that the English had assembled was startlingly different to the one that came before it. From the last England squad of 1912, only six players were retained, with Reginald Spooner offered to be the seventh however he chose to remain in England. One notable absence was that of Frank Foster who was one of the finest players in pre-war cricket however he was injured in 1915 and never played again.

Despite the regenerated look to the side the team was much fancied and a victory was on the cards when they set off for the Southern Hemisphere. On their arrival they were blown away by the talent of the Australian team who proved to be a far greater prospect than anyone would have thought. Australia’s domestic cricket had gone on largely uninterrupted during the war and, in fact, had strengthened with the introduction of the eight ball over and a huge improvement in pitches that brought about a whole new generation of prolific Aussie batsmen. The home team’s batsmen scored 600 more runs than England’s. England’s bowlers looked abysmal and they made a series of daft decisions in the field – something that they were not known for. England lost batsmen regularly with their average partnership worth just 27 in comparison to Australia’s 46. The Australians were a well-unified and well-disciplined team of cricketers; something that they had not been for many years.
The series is not just familiar for cocksure English fans having the stuffing knocked out of them. There was a whiff of discord that grew into a stink as the series progressed. Despite the fact that the England captain Johnny Douglas cited that his team were “a happy family” there were signs that that was far from the case from the outset. This first manifested itself in an element of misbehaviour from the England side. There were reports of barracking of Australian players as well as vocal criticism of the umpire regarding decisions on the field. This is something we have seen from disgruntled England stars down the years but was largely unheard of in the halcyon days of cricketing yester-year.

Another familiar sight for the fans of England cricket circa early 2010s also had its progeny on this tour. As the series wore on there grew a divide between the team, with certain squad members being seen as overly hostile regarding their performances. An extreme example of this was Rockley Wilson. The 41 year old Yorkshireman made his debut in this series after a phenomenal County series in 1920. He became (and still is) the second oldest Test debutant in English Cricket history. Wilson became disgruntled throughout the tour as he only played one Test, scoring ten runs and three wickets. He decided to express this frustration in written from to the Daily Express, something that was frowned upon at the time as people actually read it then. On his return to England, he was cold-shouldered by Lord Harris and was blackballed from the England team from then on.

The culmination of this crisis came when there was an attempt to usurp Douglas as the patriarch of this happy family. Frederick Toone, the tour director, was distraught about the direction this beleaguered tour was going in and thought that change was needed. He saw this in the figure of Percy Fender. Fender was not favoured by Douglas. He was due to start the First Test but was dropped to twelfth man at short notice and had played none of the warm up games. When he made his debut in the Third Test he was unimpressive but was also out of form. Despite this poor form, e had proved himself in his first season as captain of Surrey and had finished the 1920 season as the leading wicket taker. Toone approached two of the seasoned players in the side who supported this move and then went on to raise it with Douglas who knocked it back and led the team for the final two Test matches.

This is not to say that England were the masters of their own downfall; this Australian team was quality. They had the indomitable Warwick Armstrong who himself would have indulged in some of the aforementioned barracking. Armstrong was one of the most naturally gifted players of the age and found himself in a team that had managed to meet his expectations. Herbie Collins was able to match him with the bat, whilst Ted McDonald was becoming a great fast bowler. If you couple this with the all-round prowess of Jack Gregory, it is plain to see that this side had it all.

Surprisingly the beleaguered Douglas kept his captaincy for the first match of the return series in England that summer but there was an overhaul of the team that saw over half the XI discarded. The result of that series was equally disappointing and the England team ended it with a new captain at last.

It would have been fascinating to see the drama in the dressing room during this period and to see English cricket’s first crisis of confidence play out first hand. The indignity of an Ashes whitewash was so profound, English cricket managed to avoid it for another 86 years
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Re: Cricket Time Machine

Postby Arthur Crabtree » Tue Jan 21, 2020 1:12 pm

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/blog/ ... 77-cricket

Review of the first 1877 tour of Australia.
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Re: Cricket Time Machine

Postby The Professor » Sun Feb 02, 2020 5:33 pm

After witnessing the first ever whitewash of England, for my third trip I would need to cheer my spirits with a visit to a reverse fixture where England were back at their dominant best. So, I will turn back the dial of my Cricketing Time Machine and jump back to before The Great War when England was a green and pleasant land and they beat a much-fancied Australian side. Just for kicks though I would land my machine in Australia and take the ship over to England with the boys to see how high their spirits were – and how low they would become by the end of the tour.

In the early 1900s, Australia were a team in flux. One area where they showed this best was that they didn’t quite know who they wanted to captain them on their eleventh Test-playing tour of England. Monty Noble was the incumbent captain as he had led the Baggy Greens on a tour of New Zealand as well as having captained them in the last Ashes series where he had led his team to a 2-3 loss to England. There was a lack of confidence in the New South Welshman. So, what do you do when you are desperate? You see if an ex will take you back! In the earliest era of Australian cricket, the squad selected their own captain which saw a great period of flux at the helm. Joe Darling had been dropped as captain mid-way through the Ashes series of 1901-2 and replaced by Hugh Trumble, who had since retired. This exile did not last long as he was the man in charge in the 1902-3 tour of South Africa which they won 2-0 – but the fickle team sent Darling back to being a squad player at the end of the series. Now, when they were looking for an experienced figure for a tricky Ashes tour, they called him back for his third stint with the captain’s armband at age 35. Noble was elected vice-captain.

As they boarded the boat, Australia would have been in high spirits. They had a great record running up to this series and they would have been confident that they would have given the English a run for their money. They had no idea what was awaiting them.

Stanley Jackson had forged a team in his own image. Having been a major player in the world of English cricket since he made his name playing for Eton in 1888, Jackson had gone from strength to strength and had mustered a team around him that could meet his high standards – and even he himself took his game to the next level in this series. He was the highest run scorer with 492 and the joint third highest wicket taker with 13. Almost every game saw a highlight for the Yorkshireman. Figures of 5/52 in the First Test were followed up with 4/50 in the second – both times England’s best figures of the match. Not content with being the best bowler in his side, in the next two Tests he was his team’s highest scoring batsman with 144* in the Third and 113 in the Fourth. One of the biggest pulls to this series for me is the performances of Jackson – I am firmly of the belief that if his performances came around in the televised era his name would be alongside the likes of Botham as one of England’s great allrounders. These were his last Test matches as he began to focus more on his burgeoning political career – he is the holder of a record that will never be broken; 20 Home Tests, 0 away.

It was not all doom and gloom for Australia as they too had a standout player in the form of Warwick Armstrong. In our last journey we saw Armstrong at the end of his career – so it would be fascinating to go back to the start of his personal journey and see the series that made him as a player. Having made his debut in the previous Ashes series and looked impressive, 1905 was Armstrong’s coming of age tour. Across the whole tour, which started in Crystal Palace in April in a match versus ‘The Gentlemen’ and ended 33 days later in Hastings against a South of England XI, Armstrong scored 2000 runs and 200 wickets. This feat was only achieved due to the benevolence of an old timer who had once played for England himself. W.G. Grace, captaining the South of England side, declared early so that Armstrong could get his last few runs to tick over the 2000 mark. Despite the strength that he showed on the tour, when it came to the big event of the Test series, Armstrong did not deliver. His best figures were 3/30 in the Second Test but other than that he looked anonymous – averaging 31.5 with the bat and doing slightly better with the ball but never making a huge mark on an individual innings. He would, of course, go on to have a long career for Australia and would end up taking the armband in 1920.

The two Test matches that were taken to completion, the First at Trent Bridge and the Fourth at Old Trafford, were not hugely entertaining cricketing spectacles. The Australian bowling was taciturn and was designed to strangle the English batsmen – this plan worked in the first innings of the First Test as England stumbled to 196 all out with Frank Laver getting seven scalps as wickets fell regularly. In the second innings, however, England let themselves go with three batsmen scoring 50 runs or more: Archie MacLaren top scoring with 140, and England declaring on 426-5. England then reversed the first innings total and rocketed Australia out for 188 and won by 213 runs. The Old Trafford victory was even more decisive with England only having to bat once. It was Jackson’s 113 that made life difficult for the Australian bowlers as England racked up 446. In reply they fell three runs short of 200 with Walter Brearly getting a four-fer. When they followed on they got even fewer – 169 and another four-fer for Brearly. The Ashes were in the hands of the English.

On their return to Australia there was a huge conflict in Australian cricket that lasted for the next decade. There was a growing divide between the players and the Board of Control and schisms in the squad were apparent even as this series ended. The majority of the team arrived in England together – with Darling coming later – however they all left on no fewer than four different boats. Victor Trumper has a good excuse as he and his wife took a holiday in Europe, however Darling and four other players left on the 15th September and sailed directly to Perth, Noble and four of his pals went from London and went directly to Adelaide leaving Armstrong and the rest of his team to follow a full month after the first party left. Darling insisted that this did not represent a divide in the team – but it certainly does not suggest a world of unity in this defeated outfit. England had won with so much dominance that it had split the team apart. Such was the effect of the defeat that Australian cricket remodelled itself and soon enough a Cricket Board of Authority was created to ensure such a loss would never be repeated. One of the most destructive English victories in cricketing history and well worth a visit.
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Re: Cricket Time Machine

Postby Durhamfootman » Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:39 pm

3 day tests!
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