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Thread: Was Archie MacLaren right?

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    International Vice-Captain watson's Avatar
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    Was Archie MacLaren right?

    Walter Hammond's biography (1947) is full of wonderful insights, not least if all his musings as to why we play and watch cricket in the first place;

    Do you know what they always talk about when cricketers meet? There is a bit of preliminary skirmishing - gossip about friends, prospects of forthcoming matches....and then, inevitably, somebody compares a modern with an ancient, and we're off! Does the modern equal Trumper? Has Spofforth's top-of-the bowling reputation been challenged at last?

    You may think (reading these cricket books!) that there is unanimity of opinion. Not a bit of it! Do you know that Archie MacLaren, one of greatest batsman who ever lived, said after watching another of the world's greatest batsman score a century at Lord's? He said: "I wouldn't give you sixpence for a bat like that!"

    The man he was watching was Don Bradman.

    What he meant, of course, was that Don did not bat according to the classics of the Golden Age. Very true! Yet the batsman's job, in the game of cricket, is not to hold his bat this way or that way, not to demonstrate grace or delicacy - but to score runs. How easy that is to forget! And Don Bradman scored runs all through his career. I wonder what was the best innings I ever saw him play?..........


    page 163

    I have always believed that the finest cricket has its roots in human happiness. Trumper, Macartney, Spofforth, Jupp, Grace - yes, and Larwood and Bradman, too! - were expressing joy from within themselves when they gave such delight to others. These feats are not achieved by tired and worried men; and, whether we like it or not, most men in England to-day are tired and worried a good deal of the time. Where there is no faith there is no virtue, and there is no sparkle in cricket, either.

    page 41
    So I guess I was wondering where the true ethos of cricket lies? Is it in the 'grace' and 'delicacy' of batsman like Victor Trumper, as Archie MacLaren exclaims, or is it in the pragmatic accumulation of runs as personified by Bradman?

    As a cricket enthusiasts and spectators do we have the right to expect our players to play with the ethos of Garry Sobers and David Gower? Or should we be happy with the mere utility of batsman like Jacques Kallis and Allan Border because, in the end, victory is of far greater importance than 'sparkling' play?

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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    Archie Mac had some very eccentric ideas about cricket and cricketers, and was often proved wrong (although once spectacularly vindicated) but I'd certainly agree with him on that one - if I was offered the chance to watch one innings from between the wars none of Bradman's would figure in my deliberations

    The quote from page 41 is an odd one - does he mean Harry Jupp or Vallance Jupp, but in either case I wouldn't have thought anyone else would mention them in the same breath as the others in the list

  3. #3
    Hall of Fame Member Howe_zat's Avatar
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    I find there's always a faint whiff of snobbishness surrounding the aesthetics of sport. It seems to imply some kind of higher appreciation where I'm not sure it's needed - a feeling no doubt not helped by the use of words like "classiness" or "sophistication" to describe an act of well-honed technique. And of course by the the kind of over-simplification that wistful nostalgics seem to end up with when they end up confusing you for an obsessive number-maniac just because you aren't sure whether to describe a cover drive as "imperious" or "divine".

    Really it's that sport can't do anything for you without narrative. We hear it all the time - we let cricket slip of the radar only when there's no context, no meaning. And absolutely central to the meaning of every single piece of cricket is the where the victory was, and what is was for, when that cricket was being played. Maybe it's narrative in the context of the entire sport - when some new innovation or controversy is central to success, or maybe it's the narrative of your favourite player's rise and fall. All of that can include aesthetics as well - how does he look at the crease? What kind of presence is there? You don't have to rely on prettiness to have something more going on than "mere utility".

    Allan Border is someone you wouldn't want to watch? Allan bleedin' Border? The man who turned Australian cricket around almost single handed? I'd feel privileged to have followed the man's career.

    So to answer your question Watson, I take neither, because the former is shorn of context, and the latter doesn't exist.
    And we still haven't walked in the glow of each other's majestic presence.

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    International Vice-Captain watson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fredfertang View Post
    Archie Mac had some very eccentric ideas about cricket and cricketers, and was often proved wrong (although once spectacularly vindicated) but I'd certainly agree with him on that one - if I was offered the chance to watch one innings from between the wars none of Bradman's would figure in my deliberations

    The quote from page 41 is an odd one - does he mean Harry Jupp or Vallance Jupp, but in either case I wouldn't have thought anyone else would mention them in the same breath as the others in the list
    Harry Jupp seems appropriate to me due to his close association with WG Grace. Here they are posing together (a photo I've seen in several books);

    Grace and Jupp.png
    Last edited by watson; 28-07-2013 at 04:51 AM.




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