I thank these posters for their response and here is the reason why? . . . and it has nothing to do with being satisfied that I may have won an argument in the debate . . .
I have often been thanked for taking the trouble of fishing out the quotes from so many different books and then typing them out. This is laborious work and even though I am retired, I have plenty of interests in life that demand my time besides a wife who is fed up of the books that start piling up on the dining table as I go and bring them (sometimes in their dozens) from my library at the other end of the house and then leave them on the table and the chairs where they lie, often overnight and sometime for days till I am done with them.
So you get the drift, it IS quite a job for, obviously, I do not remember all this stuff by heart and, to make matters worse, I am one of those one finger typists
Why do I do it then. Here is why.
I was not quoting so extensively from other resources during my earlier years on CW, I just wrote what I thought on a subject.While I have always been gratified for the response that I got from a large number of members (and the large number of friends I made in the process) it was not all positive. This in itself did not bother me for to win popular acclaim was not the reason why I started posting on CW some 8-9 years ago. In fact, I had no time in those days since I was working and in a high pressure job and had to sit up at nights mostly to write on CW. I was disappointed because I felt my object of writing here was not being met. I was very keen to get the cricket lovers (and we have had some of the most passionate cricket lovers here on CW) to think beyond the statistics, specially for those cricketers they did not have the good fortune to see in flesh and blood or, at least, on the TV.
I am older (63 next month) and have been a cricket lover for half a century and more so I have seen more but that alone does not make me a cricket pundit. What I was writing on CW (not the quotes which came later) were the opinions I had formed about cricketers of the past based on what I had read about them over the last fifty years. No one can, amongst cricket fans and writers, claim any special wisdom or knowledge about the game which they have not acquired from other sources (besides watching the game) and this is something available to everyone.
I know cricket books are expensive and I have not been fortunate enough to own so many except in the latter part of my life but it was not very difficult to try and get hold of whatever I could of what was written by the great writers and former cricketers and read it. This is what made me see beyond statistics.
It came as a big shock to me when I first realised as a teenager that Jim Laker was not everyone's choice for the best spinner, let alone best bowler of any kind. I had to read to find out why they thought so. I also realised that there were those who, and these included some legendary cricketers, who did not think Bradman was the greatest cricketer of all time - some did not even think he was the greatest batsman - although their numbers have almost completely dried up over time. I had to read the stuff. I read it not always to agree with what was written but to see that there was another point of view and another perspective. These people never referred ONLY to statistics. So I learnt that Bradman was reduced to a much more moderate level on bad wickets while Jack Hobbs was not. On good tracks, which Bradman rightly argued he was not going to meet many anyway, the Australian was going to score much more heavily than anyone who ever lifted a cricket bat.
I learnt about what these players were REALLY capable of, what there skills were and how the statistics did not always reflect the relative merits of players - they rarely do by themselves.
I learnt why someone like George Gunn was considered was considered a genius with the bat and why Archie Jackson, with such a tragically short career, was considered the finest young batsmen of a generation which included Bradman.
I also learnt that while the most authentic and reliable commentary on a player came from those he played with or against they did not, at least in the earlier years. express strong opinions. Language was moderated. In any event very few cricketers actually wrote in those days and even fewer were good at it. However, quite a few of those who had retired from the game continued as journalists, commentators and writers and their accounts were more specific and less diplomatic.
The game was also lucky to have writers who had either played the game at some decent level or were very knowledgeable about its technical aspects and nuances. The best of them had unfettered access to the stars of the day and spent a hell of a lot of time in the company of cricketers so as to bring to the reader a more authentic account than, sadly, the mushrooming of cricket writers today does. But we have less need for today's writers to tell us about today's cricket and cricketers. We can see it for ourselves, live, and from all parts of the world - and if we know about the game we can form good opinions about the current players as long as we are habituated to look beyond statistics which, sadly, many modern writers too do not do - but they cater to an audience.
The problem of knowing about cricketers of the times before ours, however, remains as acute today as it did at any earlier period and for this we have to rely on acquired knowledge and this has to come from written sources - and multiple sources. This is all that it takes to know the game and its heroes, past and present better. The rest of what anyone does (including yours truly at a more modest level) is to use the gift of the language which is about presentation and nothing more.
So the point of what I have started here is that all of us, me included, need to read about the game and its history. Not just to win an argument, which I do agree is an important bit part of being a passionate cricket fan, but about being a better informed passionate cricket fan, Trust me it is a very rewarding activity - reading the game's great and vast literature including about its technical nuances and their evolution. Do it.
It will make your involvement with the game so much more enjoyable and satisfying, watching it such an enhanced pleasure and debating at CW and elsewhere such a fulfilling and meaningful exercise.
PS : I have started a new thread for this subject for I know there are so many very knowledgeable members of CW who will have lots to add to what I have written first thing this morning before I rush to the loo.