Yesterday, Third Man was able to change every clock in the cottage except the one that really matters, his own body clock. So he is wide awake at 5 am.
The thought with which he woke was the realisation that many of the favourite cricketers of the late 1950s and early 1960s all had one thing in common.
Yes, they all had trouble with the tails of their shirts.
Butch would leave the pavilion spruce and well groomed. Within six balls his hair would be out of control, his shirt drenched in sweat and at least one his shirt tails would be refusing to stay tucked in.
Trueman, despite a heavy smearing of Brylcream and a very tight trouser waistband had the same problem. Colin Milburn’s shirt tails were on the move after walking one single down to third man.
I seem to remember that when Brian Close was playing the fastest West Indian bowling ever seen, stopping each ball in the middle of his unprotected chest, he was between overs spending his free time tucking his shirt tails back in and chatting idly to Edrich.
Third Man once had one of Tom Graveney’s cricket shirts. A very large white Clydella. For many years it was his favourite possession and first choice batting shirt. Sorry Tom, but it was a tent with tails like the genoa jibs on a tea clipper.
Third Man’s mother was an excellent judge of a cricketer, but the highest marks in her ratings were reserved for those with a neat appearance rather than a good average. She insisted that TM wore Vyella perhaps having rapped him in Dayella swaddling clothes at birth. [Note for the young: these had a high woollen content, would shrink to half their size in the laundry and so had to be carefully hand washed and required a process known as ironing.]
The arrival of the elasticated waist band may have eliminated the problem. (Were these first sported by that great innovator Tony Gregg?) Fittness, dietry care and overall weight loss may also have contributed. The arrival of today’s nylon cricket, shirt perhaps modelled on the old Surrey Smock favoured by shepherds, brings its own difficulties but when dishevelled still lacks Truemanesque character.