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Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 102, February 27, 1892   By:

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VOL. 102.

February 27, 1892.



To hear my remarks on the Cricket, in the Pavilion, you might think that I had been a great player entirely, in my day. "Who is that fine old English sportsman," you might ask, "who seems to have been so intimate with MYNN, and FULLER PILCH, and CARPENTER, and HAYWARD and TARRANT and JACKSON and C.D. MARSHAM? No doubt we see in him the remains of a sterling Cricketer of the old school." And then when I lay down the law on the iniquity of boundary hits, "always ran them out in my time," and on the tame stupidity of letting balls to the off go unpunished, and the wickedness of dispensing with a long stop, you would be more and more pursuaded that I had at least, played for my county. Well, I have played for my county, but as the county I played for was Berwickshire, there is perhaps nothing to be so very proud of in that distinction. But this I will say for the Cricketing Duffer; he is your true enthusiast. When I go to Lord's on a summer day, which of my contemporaries do I meet there? Not the men who played for the University, not the KENNYS and MITCHELLS and BUTLERS, but the surviving members of College Second Elevens in the old days of Cowley Marsh, when every man brought his own bottle of Oxford wine for luncheon. These are the veterans who contribute most to the crowd of lookers on. They never were of any use as players, but their hearts were in the game, and from the game they will never be divorced. It is an ill thing for an outsider to drop a remark about Cricket among us, at about eleven o'clock in a country house smoking room. After that the time flies in a paradise of reminiscences, till about 4 A.M. or some such "wee, short hour ayont the Twal'," if one may quote BURNS without being insulted by all the numerous and capable wits of Glasgow. Why is it that the Duffer keeps up his interest in Cricket, while the good players cease to care much about it? Perhaps their interest was selfish; his is purely ideal, and consequently immortal. To him Cricket was ever an unembodied joy of which he could make nothing palpable; nothing subject to the cold law of averages. Mine was 0.3.


My own introduction to Cricket, as to Golf, was peculiarly poignant. I and my brother, aged more or less about six or seven, were invited to play by the local Club, and we each received exactly one very slow and considerate lob. But his lob took him on the eye, and mine, kicking on a bad wicket, had me on the knee pan. The subsequent proceedings did not interest us very much, but there is nothing like entering children early at a manly pastime.

Intellectual application will, to some extent, overcome physical difficulties. By working at least five hours a day, and by reading the Cricket Field daily and nightly, I did learn to bowl a little, with a kind of twist. This, while it lasted, in a bowlerless country, was a delightful accomplishment. You got into much better sporting society than you deserved, and, in remote parts of the pastoral districts you were looked up to as one whose name had been in Bell's Life ; we still had Bell's Life then. It was no very difficult matter to bowl a rustic team for a score of runs or so, and all went merry as a wedding bell. But, alas, when Drumthwacket played Tullochgorum, there was a young Cambridge man staying with the latter chieftain. I began, as I usually did, by "yorking" Tullochgorum's Piper and his chief Butler, and his head Stalker, and then SMITH of King's came in. The ground, as usual, had four sides. He hit me over the enclosure at each of the four sides, for I changed my end after being knocked for five fours in his first over. After that, my prestige was gone. The rustics, instead of crawling about their wickets, took to walking in and smacking me. This would not have mattered, if any of the Drumthwacket team could have held a catch, and if the wicket keeper had not let SMITH off four times in one over... Continue reading book >>

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