In the last game of the 1954 season, Lancashire played Surrey at th’Oval as it is pronounced here in the Ribble Valley.
Breaking in to the Surrey team at that time was an eager youngster by the name of Ken Barrington, who rather fancied himself with the hook shot.
Lancashire’s opening bowler, Brian Statham, known in the game as “George”, was then three years into his successful England career and a formidable opponent.
Nevertheless, early in his innings, Barrington tried to hook a short pitched delivery from Statham and, catching it on the splice, was lucky not to get himself out.
Was the great bowler raised to anger at this impetuous presumption?
No. “George” turned to Jim Laker, Barrington’s batting partner, and said, “Jim, tell that lad not to hook like that. He doesn’t get into position quickly enough. He’ll get himself out.”
Laker relayed the advice but in Statham’s next over Barrington again went unsuccessfully for the hook.
When Barrington himself got up to Statham’s end “George” personally warned him against these indiscretions.
“Leave ‘em alone.”
Then Stathem had a thought …
“Look, next over I’ll bowl a couple of short ones to see if you’ve learned your lesson.”
“George” was as good as his word. He bowled two or three short ones which Barrington evaded. Each time the bowler nodded his mute approval to the Surrey novice.
Third Man hears you ask, how was this gentle man, who usually had to be cajoled into bowling bouncers, rewarded?
The umpire cautioned him for intimidatory bowling!