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Thread: Favourite BITS of cricket writing

  1. #16
    SJS
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    Today, I re-read an old essay of that greatest of all cricket writer and as always it brought to me the bliss of lovely afternoons spent watching cricket, playing cricket or just reading of cricket. But most of all it brought a smile to my face as Cardus's great Wodehouse like sense of humour never fails to do.

    Here it is.

    What's in A Name
    Neville Cardus

    Mr E.V. Lucas has written somewhere a charming essay on cricketer's names, and such is my annoyance at not having thought of the theme first that (without Mr Lucas' permission) I now borrow it and use it myself. And why should I not? In music, composers have never had scruples against stealiong subjects from one another for their variations. Besides, many years ago, lomg before Mr Lucas's writings on cricket came pleasantly into my life, I pandered frequently into the poetic justness of the names of cricketers. I used to chose my favourite batsmen on the strength of an agreeable name, much as ladies pick a winner at Ascot. I was, even while a schoolboy, as convinced as Mr Shandy would have been that a cricketer's surname posessed an enormous influence one way or another upon his skill, nay upon his very destiny.

    When Hobbs first played for Surrey, I would have none of him. ' No man ever has or ever willl be any good with a name like that,' I said adding, 'Hobbes, maybe, but not Hobbs.' My Shandean theory was, of course, quite shocked by the quick movement of Hobbs to fame; I consoled myself with the reflection that there must be exceptions to every rule.

    One afternoon I remember running out of school to get the latest news of the Lancashire match. In those years, Lancashire cricket meant more to me, perhaps, than anything else on earth. One afternoon I escaped from school eager about Lancashire, who were meeting Worcestershire - a rare side that year with the Fosters, Ted Arnold, Burrows and Wilson. I bought a newspaper and turned to the scores on the middle pages inside. I never could as a boy, and sometimes never can yet, muster up courage enough to plunge headlong into the 'stop press'; news had to come to my apprehensive young mind gradually. Inside the paper, which I opened cautiously, I learned that Worcestershire were 67 for 6 and all the Fosters were out. These tidings of joy sent me confidentally to the stop press. And there, what did my incredulous eyes read? 'Worcestershire 152 for 6. Gaukrodger not out 82.'

    I decided on the spot that
    (a) that this was outrageous and absurd, that
    (b) Gaukrodger was an impossible name for a cricketer, and that
    (c) with such a name he should have never in this world have been permitted to score 19, let alone 91.
    From that afternoon until Gaukrodger passed into honurable retirement, I regarded him (or rather his name - which amounted to the same thing) with open derision. 'Gaukrodger!' I would murmer. And to this present time I have remained unshaken in the view that 'Gaukrodger' was a heathenish name for a cricketer, I am glad he never played for England.

    There is, I am aware, a sophistical argument that tries to pursuade us that only by force of mechanical association do we begin to associate a great man's name as part and parcel of all that we feel about his personality and genius. I admit this notion can gather support from the way the ridiculous monosyllable 'Hobbs' has, with the passing of time, come to sound in many ears like a very trumpet of greatness. But my strong opinion is this: Hobbs has conquered inspite of his name. It would have crippled many a lesser man.

    'What about Trumper?' asks the scoffer. 'How can you fit in a name like that with the destiny of a glorious cricketer?' And again do I freely confess that at first glance 'Trumper' seems at first glance, a name not at all likely to guide anybody towards sweetness and light. But Trumper's Christian name was Victor; the poetry in 'Victor' neutralised the (let us say) prose in 'Trumper'; had Trumper been named Obaidah he could scarcely have scored a century for Australia against England before lunch - as Trumper rapturously did at Old Trafford in 1902.

    The crowd in the shilling seats will bear me out that there is much power for good or for evil in a cricketer's name. Consider how the crowd instinctively felt, when Hendren began his county cricket, that the man's Christian name of Elias was all wrong - not only that, but a positive danger to his future. The crowd looked at Hendren's face, his gigantic smile, also his admirable batting. Then they pronounced to themselves, 'Elias'. Then they looked at Hendren once more and, to a man, they agreed that 'Elias' was not true.....They called him 'Patsy' - even as they called Augustus Lilley 'Dick'.

    Mr Warner has invented a sort of 'rainy-day' pastime for cricketers; you have to pick a world XI to play a side from Mars. I always select my World XI on the principal that a handsome name is the harbinger of handsome achievement. And, herewith, I publish my World XI - every man chosen with no reference to form, but simply because he carries a name which, if not actually poetic, has suggestions that are far from those of unlovely prose.

    • Grace
    • Shrewsbury
    • Darling
    • Noble
    • Warwick Armstrong
    • Knight (AE or DJ)
    • Lilley
    • Rhodes
    • Flowers
    • Mead (W)
    • Blythe


    Perhaps I should go a little into my choice of 'Rhodes'. It is not exactly musical in sound, or as a word poetic or picturesque. But it is redolent of the ancient Aegean, the Dorian Hexapolis, and the Colossus of Chares. Besides, I am prepared to go to any extreme of subterfuge and sophistry to get Wilfred into my World XI. 'Tennyson' is a name of handsomer aspect at first glance than 'Rhodes' - which really is a hideous word, if only we could look at it with fresh eyes. But as a cricketer Tennyson

    ... altogether lacks the abilities
    That Rhodes is dress'd in.


    Against my XI of delectable names I would like to see opposed the following team, which might be called 'The Onomatopoeics'.

    • Hobbs
    • Fry
    • Studd (CT)
    • Gunn (W)
    • Brown (JT)
    • Hirst
    • Trumble
    • Boyle
    • Briggs
    • Sugg

    and (of course)
    • Gaukrodger

    My XI's inevitable victory would demonstrate, once and for all, that there is plenty of virtue in a name - among cricketers at any rate. Could Grace conceivably have been Grace, known as W.G. Blenkinsop?


    Last edited by SJS; 13-08-2008 at 05:25 AM.

  2. #17
    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend honestbharani's Avatar
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    This is great stuff, SJS...




    BTW, can u also post what, in your opinion, are the best articles about some of the players of the current generation?



    Maybe you can start off with the best of the best... (Sachin, Warne, Lara, Murali, McGrath, Ambrose, Akram)



    I have not really been the best read amongst the CWers here, even about the current players..
    We miss you, Fardin. :(. RIP.
    Quote Originally Posted by vic_orthdox View Post
    In the end, I think it's so utterly, incomprehensibly boring. There is so much context behind each innings of cricket that dissecting statistics into these small samples is just worthless. No-one has ever been faced with the same situation in which they come out to bat as someone else. Ever.
    A cricket supporter forever

    Member of CW Red and AAAS - Appreciating only the best.


    Check out this awesome e-fed:

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  3. #18
    SJS
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    Quote Originally Posted by honestbharani View Post
    This is great stuff, SJS...




    BTW, can u also post what, in your opinion, are the best articles about some of the players of the current generation?



    Maybe you can start off with the best of the best... (Sachin, Warne, Lara, Murali, McGrath, Ambrose, Akram)



    I have not really been the best read amongst the CWers here, even about the current players..
    Send me your address. I will send you a book.

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    The closing paragraphs of Alan Ross' piece on Hugh Bartlett from the collection "Cricket Heroes"

    Heroes in fact die with one's youth. They are pinned like
    butterflies to the setting board of early memories - the time when skies
    were always blue, the sun shone and the air was filled with the sounds
    and scents of grass being cut. I find myself still as desperate to read
    the Sussex score in the stop-press as ever I was; but I no longer
    worship heroes, beings for whom the ordinary scales of human values are
    inadequate. One learns that as one grows up, so do the gods grow down.
    It is in many ways a pity: for one had thought that heroes had no
    problems of their own. Now one knows different !

    Hugh Bartlett was not the greatest of Sussex cricketers, and it
    might have been better if he had not played after the war. His parting
    from the county was not exactly of the happiest. Yet, for two seasons,
    he made of every Sussex ground on which he played a place of
    enchantment. You do not often hear these days the buzz of anticipation
    that habitually preceded his emergence from the pavilion. Sometimes when
    Godfrey Evans goes out to bat in a test match, or when Frank Tyson comes
    on to bowl, but not often otherwise. We hear a murmur at Hove on behalf
    of David Sheppard, and sometimes for Jim Parks, or Don Smith. But it is
    nothing to what we felt when Bartlett, tall, brown, bareheaded, a little
    Byronic around mouth and chin, but fairer, more casual, walked with toes
    turned a shade inwards towards the wicket.

    Perhaps simply it is that one is older, less roused to
    excitement. I do not know. But I remember the sea glinting, the flags
    fluttering, the crowd settling itself, and those terrible first overs
    when Pope or Copson or Smailes or whoever it was, fizzed the ball over
    Bartlett's waving bat - the agony of it, the unbelievable survival, and
    finally that great ecstasy.


  5. #20
    SJS
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    Quote Originally Posted by honestbharani View Post
    BTW, can u also post what, in your opinion, are the best articles about some of the players of the current generation?

    Maybe you can start off with the best of the best... (Sachin, Warne, Lara, Murali, McGrath, Ambrose, Akram)
    Well their aren't writers today to match Cardus or Thomson but let me try with whats available.

    Here is a piece about Waqar, written early in his career, by Martin Johnson.

    A game of cricket, as any Wednesday-night park player who has almost had his nose torn off by a middle aged slow medium dobber will confirm, is entirely dependent upon the prevailing conditions. It can take place on a strip of concrete, or twenty two yards of suet pudding – but for Pakistan’s twenty two year old phenomenon Waqar Younis, it matters little whether it has been prepared by McAlpine’s or Mrs Beeton. If Waqar does not care for the pitch, he merely dispenses with it.

    Waqar’s trade mark is a ball that that takes about a third of a second to travel from launch pad to target, and swings and dips wickedly late in towards the base of the right hander’s leg stump. In terms of working conditions, England’s batsmen are not only entering a hard hat area, but one that demands a pair of steel toe caps. With this delivery, Waqar not only renders the pitch redundant, but the fielders as well. In one and a half seasons with Surrey, he has taken 170 Championship wickets in 32 matches and over 60 percent of these have been either bowled or lbw. Bowled is the preferable option as it at least guarantees a batsman a semi-dignified walk off, rather than a hobble back on a set of crushed toes.

    The romantic version of Waqar’s version is that Imran was lying at home in bed with a viral infection when he spotted an unknown youngster on television bowling for United Bank in the annual fixture between the domestic champions of Pakistan and India. Imran, so the story goes, leapt from his sickbed to attend the game, and immediately insisted on Waqar joining his squad for the forthcoming one day tournament in Sharjah. A more prosaic account comes from Intikhab Alam, the current team manager, who says that the United Bank captain, Haroon Rashid, invited him to watch Waqar bowling in the nets. ‘It took me six balls to realize that he had everything,’ Intikhab says,’and I immediately told Imran that we had to get him into the squad for Sharjah.’

    What is certain, however, is that Intikhab and Imran were instrumental in getting Waqar into the Pakistani squad at the earliest possible opportunity. It is there way to throw youngsters in at the deep end, just as it is the English way to issue their own young players with rubber rings and lead them gently into the padding pool. ‘Its mostly to do with the system,’ Intikhab said, ‘Its amazing, really, but most of our players start learning about cricket at Test level. When we see natural talent as Waqar’s, we leave it alone. If faults creep in, we set them right, but we never try to coach them into doing things that don’t come naturally.’

    Cricketers being the suspicious characters that they are, there are quite a few around not totally convinced that Waqar’s talents are God given. Mutterings about ball tampering are never far from the surface when one of Waqar’s missile’s abruptly changes direction in mid-air at 90 mph. At a press conference on New Zealand’s tour of Pakistan, Martin Crowe produced a ball that, so he intimated, bore not so much the evidence of contact with a cricket bat as a combined harvester.

    However, nowhere does a ball get roughed up so quickly as on the parched, grassless turf of Pakistan, and it is a legacy of learning his trade on such conditions that makes Waqar (like Wasim Akram) prefer bowling when the ball is older. There is even a theory that Pakistani sweat (rubbed in to provide the polish on one side) for different properties. Intikhab, as you might expect will have none of it. “We all know why Waqar swings the ball so late, and at such pace, and it is all to do with the bowler. It is, I’m sure you’ll understand, our secret”

    Waqar’s talents first came to light in Sharjah where his parents were living, although he was not smitten by the game until he saw Imran bowling for Pakistan in a one day tournament there. He went away and studied Imran’s action on video, and their master=pupil relationship is still strong today. Imran attempted to get Waqar fixed up with his old county, Sussesx, who probably do not care to be reminded that they went instead for the Australian, Ian Dodemaide. Later that summer, Imran bumped into his former Sussex colleague, Ian Greig, then captain of Surrey and after half an hour of bowling to Alec Stewart in the Oval nets, Surrey rushed through a special registration to get him into their state side for a Benson and Hedges quarter final the following day!

    Waqar’s potential to become one of history’s finest bowlers is illustrated by his record of 79 wickets after only 16 Test matches at an average of 19.97. Wasim has 154 in 41 matches at 24.37, and by any standard they represent a lethal partnership.. David Gower, back in the England side for Old Trafford, says of Waqar,

    ”When the ball is so close to the batsman before it starts to move, it is horribly difficult to adjust – and the way he races in to you gives you a hint that something less than friendly is on its way.”

    Robin Smith, just about the only English batsman who would rather face Waqar than Mushtaq Ahmed, describes Waqar’s in-swinging Yorker as

    “ . . . the deadliest ball I have faced. However well you might be playing, this ball is always at the back of your mind, and you can never relax against him.”

  6. #21
    Request Your Custom Title Now! Top_Cat's Avatar
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    @ Waqar

  7. #22
    SJS
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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Cat View Post
    @ Waqar
    I may not have had red 'hearts' coming out of my skull, but I did love that guy when he was bowling at his peak.

  8. #23
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    A quqrter of a century ago, Bill O'Rielly wrote this. The words are prophetic but, of course, no one is listening.

    I have seen the extraordinary and vigorous growth of the public entertainment known as Limited overs cricket, and have steadfastly refused to accept it as a serious substitute for the game which I have loved so much that I feel that I have some sort of proprietorial right to it. So lonmg as limited overs cricket is classed only as quick-fire public entertainment I am prepared to live alongside it, but I am appalled at the degenerating influence of the one day game on the game of cricket as a whole.

    Firstly, because there is no premium on taking wickets, limited overs cricket is loaded against spin bowling, which is of itself unattractive, and what is worse, makes for unattractive batting. Batsmen will never learn to use their feet to bowling of this type, and will come to rely more and more on short armed clubbed strokes. The graceful off-side play of the Hammonds and the Greg Chappell's will disappear, and the game will come to resemble baseball.

    It is only by encouraging spin bowling that footwork will be brought back into the game, and when I think that this new type of cricket is still played with the leg-before-wicket rule that has already gone a long way towards destroying the art of spin bowling, my bile rises to a level which is difficult for me to bear. Don't the administrators understand this? If not, how can they be so stupid? The least they could do is give spinners a fair chance in the one day game. That would be a golden opportunity to introduce a fair lbw rule, so that if a batsman is hit on the pad by a ball which would have gone on to hit the stumps, regardless of where it pitched. he is given out. Morally he is out. He should be given out. Limited overs cricket would be the perfect place to experiment with such a rule and it would have the enormous advantage of bringing spin bowling back into the new game on equal and fair terms.

    I am convinced too that the excess of cricket, particularly limited overs cricket, played in England at the moment is the reason why the home of the game can no longer produce fast bowlers. The emphasis is on bowling tight, not on taking wickets, and with so much cricket being played any genuine tearaway fast bowler would burn himself out in no time. The West Indian pace battery may give the lie to this argument, but at present their nursery is much less intense - they arrive at the international scene fully formed, so to speak. wIf they start to take cricket too seriously in the West Indies, and overload the local game with coaches and too much cricket, my bet is that they will, before too long, run into the same problems.

    One day cricket is said to have brought the crowds back into the game. My attitude to that has always been that the game is for the players, the people inside the fence, not those outside it. But if crowds are essential for the well being of the game, then my guess is that nothing will encourage them to watch the game more than classical cricket where both batsman and bowler are encouraged to play attacking cricket on equal terms. The biggest crowds I ever experienced in my playing days were in the 1936-37 series. That series was accompanied by very little controversy inside the fence, just glorious attacking cricket: the likes of Walter Hammond, Maurice Leyland, Gubby Allen and Hedley Verity for England and Don Bradman, Stan McCabe, Ernie McCormick, Fleetwood Smith and O'Reilly for us. It is interesting to note that the other series out here which consistently drew enormous crowds was in 1960-61 against Frank Worrell's West Indies, when the same brand of cricket was p[layed, perhaps for the last time. Even more interesting to me, that 1960-61 series was not dominated by fast bowling: Lance Gibbs and Richie Benaud played crucial roles in every nail-biting encounter.

    I know how glorious the game can be. To me limited overs cricket is a travesty of the game, and I am certain that it is creating greater problems in the long term than it is solving in the short term.


    - Bill Orielly writing in 'Tiger' O'Reilly - 60 Years in Test Cricket

  9. #24
    Cricket Web Staff Member stumpski's Avatar
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    I agree with a lot of what 'Tiger' says there; but he does seem to be arguing in his third paragraph for a batsman to be given out lbw to a ball pitched outside leg stump, which surely few of us would approve of. Ashley Giles might well have taken 250 wickets in Tests if it were possible. But otherwise, the old boy is right on the money.

    Thank you for your e-mail by the way - I shall respond when I have a chance to do so properly (have to go out soon).

  10. #25
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    O'Reilly, whose writing was like his bowling, wrote that in 1985 when there was no leggie on the horizon to take over when Abdul Qadir retired - I see he lived on until 1995 - were his thoughts on Warne and Murali ever recorded?

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    Quote Originally Posted by fredfertang View Post
    O'Reilly, whose writing was like his bowling, wrote that in 1985 when there was no leggie on the horizon to take over when Abdul Qadir retired - I see he lived on until 1995 - were his thoughts on Warne and Murali ever recorded?
    O'Reilly died in 1992 before Warne reached double figures. This is what he wrote in 1982, a very prescient piece, at a time many were expecting spin to die.

    Spin bowling's return is bound to take lots of time. To regenerate spin bowling in Australia and to have it functioning as it did in the thirties one starts thinking about the year 2000.

    For instance, I read with great interest of the opening of a new cricket school in Sydney's southern suburbs just the other day, and cheerfully thought of the prospects lying ahead for the ambitious boys of that district. It struck me however as a lopsided event when I read that youngsters interested in fast bowling will be coached free of charge by a leading international, Len Pascoe.

    But there you are - what silly boy would waste his time thinking about anything else but speed these days.

    None do, but the time will come - let me assure you - when many will.

    It is refined cruelty for a leg spinner of other days to watch batsmen brought up on a diet of fast bowling sending out all the signals that induced a slow bowler to get his hands on the ball as quickly as he could catch the captain's eye.

    I have written it often - with Clarrie Grimmett at one end and myself at the other we could "do" all the international sides I have seen in the past without raising a sweat.

    Footwork has gone without a trace. Backfoot defense is not even a memory. How then in the name of all that's precious can a batsman expect to cope with a bowler who has length , direction, change of pace and leg spin, supported by a wrong 'un. What hope has he for survival ?

    I envy the first young man who shapes up with all those bowling tricks in his armoury to revive the lost art.

    His rewards will be gigantic.

    I can see for him a programme which will rewrite the bowling record book.

  12. #27
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    A lovely little piece that never fails to bring joy to me.

    Holiday In Hyde Park
    H.V. morton

    THE FAMILY can not afford to snatch a few hectic days at Southend or at Margate, because railway fares alone would eat up a week's wages. So London must be the playground and give them their wages.

    Mother packs a wicker basket with sandwiches, bread and cheese, and bottles of lemonade (and a supply of milk for Alfred, who has not yet joined the general competition to eat the parents out of house and home), and father, as if revealing a secret, produces a cricket bat and, most marvelous to behold, wickets.

    When you have been accustomed to cricket with a cast-off coat as the target for your googlies, real wickets seem the last word in style and tone. The children, realising that these things are a remarkable phenomenon in a life which contains few such extravagences, crowd around, handle them reverently, and feel that it is going to be a wonderful holiday.

    They arrive at Hyde Park early in the day to seek out a secluded spot. This is not simple, for too many others are at the same game. However, the sharp slope upward from the Serpentine towards the Marble Arch side of the park affords considerable boskiness. In fact, a Londoner of a Virginlian turn of mind could believe himself in a fit setting for a Georgic, a conviction helped out here and there by the city's equivalent of a shephard sporting with Amarylis in the shade. Through the ancient trees the Serpentine gleams like silver. On the road below pass horsemen and horse-women, giving to the cockney just that pathetic assurance of humanity and - dare I say - civilisation whicvh is entirely lacking in the frightening solitude of real country.

    Bill, Mrs Bill, and family establish Alfred in a place of safety on a pile of coats, from which he gazes blue eyed, his mouth deformed by an 'India-rubber' comforter, and his remarks rendered quite negligible. Then they hurl themselves into holiday with deliberate abandon. Maudie, all legs and flying hair, fields in slips, John bowls, Alice keeps wickets, Tom retires to an indefinite position in the aloof distance, father bowls, mother bats.

    Mother is twenty-eight, and looks thirty-eight because, like half the women on earth, she is immolated on the altar of the next generation. If her beloved family could be chloroformed for a month and she allowed to rest in some quiet place she might look less worn out. However, today she is radiantly happy, for she has father and family together in an atmosphere of gaity. She has forgotten the man with the rent book, the gas-meter, the eternal problem of food and the thousand things which to her mean married life.

    "Ready?" asks father. He bowls an underhand lob. She makes a slash at it, turns completely around, the ball lodges in her skirt and she begins frantically to score runs. They stump her! The field comes in, discussing MCC rules, to hold an inquest on her short life as a batsman!

    "All right. Have another go. We won't count that." says father.

    They start again, mother hits them all over Hyde Park, and looks like making a century. Suddenly there are cries of anguish from the coat dump. Alfred's mouth resembles the entrance to a scarlet cave, his eyes are closed in the sheer enthusiasm of his sorrow, tears catch each other up on his pink cheeks. Mother drops her bat at the call of her life's mission! She bends over Alfred and produces a bottle. His passion ends as suddenly as it began. The game of cricket proceeds.

    Through a sunny afternoon the humble London family find ease and happiness in Hyde Park.


    Source : The English Game by Gerald Brodgribb

  13. #28
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    Awesome stuff
    "I envy the first young man who shapes up with all those bowling tricks in his armoury to revive the lost art."
    SKW
    Time: "Despite its gentlemanly manner, the sport generates tremendous passion in Britain and its former colonies."

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    Cricket - A Cult and a Philosophy

    To some people cricket is a circus show upon which they may or may not find it worthwhile to spend sixpence; to others its a pleasant means of a livelihood; to others a physical fine art full of plot, interest and enlivened by difficulties; to others, in some sort, it is a cult and a philosophy, ..... and these last will never be understood by the profanum vulgus, nor by the merchant-minded, nor by the unphysically intellectual.

    - C B Fry.

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    Leg Before ?? Of course not

    George Washington, a truthful man,
    Who never broke the law,
    Lived in America, and so
    Was never 'leg before.'

    He never travelled in a train,
    He never tried to fly,
    He had a further drawback, too,
    He could not tell a lie !

    He never had those specious tales
    With which to trouble you,
    Which proved conclusively he was
    Not L.B.W.

    He did not say the umpire should
    Be given five years hard,
    Because the ball turned some four feet.
    Or certainly a yard!

    He did not swear he hit the ball
    So hard he thought it four,
    How could he, in such circumstance
    Be out leg-before?

    His hatchet and his truthfulness
    Are something of a bore,
    But nothing to the fellow who
    Is never leg-before!

    In cricket as spectators know,
    There's one unwritten law,
    Whichever way a batsman's out,
    He's never leg before !


    - F B Wilson

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  5. cricket 2004 what do you think? EA or no way
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    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 26-06-2004, 08:54 PM

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