hard heads soft hearts
Sunday, August 02, 2009
Creamy Olde England
So 6 months ago I sent for a UK book "Tom Cartwright - The Flame Still Burns", because I had read the Cricinfo piece "The D'Oliveira Affair", and was intrigued by Cartwright's role. (Basically, he pulled out of the tour, partly because of a shoulder injury, partly because of moral qualms, leading to a cricket boycott of South Africa which lasted till the end of apartheid.)
Anyway after months of dipping into the book, reading a few pages at a a time, I've grown really fond of it. Tom Cartwright seems to me a player & coach well worth knowing about, so I want to post some of my favorite excerpts from the book. Here is the first, Tom Cartwright on his formative years and the importance of rhythm (p. 44):
"May 1953. . .It was a time of hope. There was full-employment, little inflation, a new National Health Service and a wide-scale programme of house-building. The war had been won, rationing was nearing its end and people were mostly happy to have returned to lives of routine.
"There was much more of a rhythm of life then. A rhythm of going to work and coming home at the same time each day, a rhythm of learning a trade and progressing with it, a rhythm even in people's leisure pursuits, and it gave people good manners and a consideration for others. People had settled lives. They did things which were within their reach - going out into the country, doing the garden, spending a day at cricket. Now people are striving for things they can't attain, the structures break down and the natural rhythm is lost."
The post-war surge in attendance at county cricket matches was dying away, but the game retained its familiar patterns and Tom could grow and develop within a structure that had a reassuring feeling of permanence.
County cricket. A four-month round of two three-day matches a week. A championship that captured the public imagination. The averages every week in the papers. And the cream at the top rising to the England team, an England team that would go more than seven years without losing a Test series.
"There was a rhythm of introducing young cricketers into the game, a rhythm that was constant. You joined a county club, you went about learning your job and in time, when somebody was injured or went off to play for England, you got your chance. By playing six days a week you got into form and, if you did well, there was an inevitability that your performances would be noted by writers and selectors. The fixture list wasn't disjointed, the counties didn't look for an overseas player whenever there was a vacancy, the selectors didn't make their minds up in April who was going to be in the England squad and who wasn't. The whole thing had a rhythm, an unbroken rhythm, and it provided a depth of quality, an intensity of competition between bat and ball in the county game"
Deep in the heart of Wales Tom works hard to help the young cricketers of today to progress in the game: to learn its manners, to develop its skills, to experience its pleasures. But he is not sure that the structures around him make that progress as easy as it was for him in the 1950's. "I'm a great believer in rhythm. When things are good, you get a good rhythm."
Tom Cartwright's Cricinfo page:
The book's website, with another extract on Cartwright coaching Ian Botham
I hadn't realized until fairly recently that "Gimme Hope Jo'anna" was a song protesting apartheid and the Jo'burg power elite, and not a song about scoring with Joanna.