Among the assortment of dubious ties and suspicious socks, I was given a book for Christmas that can finally answer that question. The Game of Cricket by “Many Authorities” include some interesting and bonkers essays by a D. R. Jardine, former England captain.
Jardine, of course, is famous for trying to maim and kill as many Australians as possible in the ultimately successful Bodyline campaign.
Donald Bradman, for instance, had a promising career ahead of him, before Jardine personally took the new ball and beat “that little bastard” to death with it.
This is a laudable aim. The Antipodes is an area apt for a little culling here and there. Fine. Worthy of an MBE, etc. etc.
However, where I lose track of Jardine’s murderous thought-process is the introduction of organised slaughter into a game to which my Swedish friend refers to, “that game Englishmen play on the lawn, like croquet or bowls”. Although, ending your neighbour’s days is a novel way of livening up afternoon tea.
“There is nothing wrong with cricket if by cricket we mean the body generally; certain limbs need pruning … both in the quantity and duration in and at which it is played to-day may need reform.”
“Cricket when all is said and done is a game for twenty-two people, and no game that I know of, unless community singing be a game, is improved by thirty or forty thousand people endeavoring to take part in it.”
Of course, no Bodyline blog would be complete without my second favourite exchange in cricketing history:
"They don't seem to like you very much over here, Mr Jardine." Jardine replied, "It's fucking mutual."And on that spirit of anti-Australianness, let me leave you a little riddle:
Q: What’s the difference between Australia and a pot of yoghurt?