Grips and Gripes

Bill Ponsford had a baseball batter’s strength of forearm and wrist that enabled him to wield a very heavy bat.  

When Victoria scored 1059 against Tasmania in 1923, Ponsford had gone in at 200 for 3, scored 429 of them in 477 minutes and made sure that he hit the 1000th run.  Oh and it was only his fourth first class innings.  Can that be right?

According to his obituary in Wisden “Over Christmas in 1926, Ponsford was in especially devastating form. On the second day of Victoria’s match against New South Wales at Melbourne, he dominated an opening partnership of 375 with Woodfull, and his 352, of which 334 were made in a day, contained 36 fours. It was the foundation of Victoria’s 1107, still the first-class total.”

In 1934 at the Oval he and Bradman added 451 for the second wicket in a mere 316 minutes.  In fact he shared in five partnerships of 375 or more so he must have been a good ‘type’ to have as a partner and a safe caller of a run … or was that because he dealt in so many boundaries.  Both his ‘quads’ contained 42 fours.

Diogenes recently wondered whether there were photographs of Bill Ponsford’s grip.  Above is a set-up shot of his stance, featuring that grip.

The top hand looks as if the back of the hand faced down the wicket to the bowler, where Bradman’s (below) looks locked around the back of the handle.  

And here is  one of Peter May’s grip taken for the Third Edition (1962) of the MCC Coaching Manual with the top hand somewhere in between those of Ponsford and Bradman.

Elsewhere at A Different Shade of Green, Brian Carpenter, ponders ‘Market Forces’ and K. Pollard’s decision to play t20 for Somerset rather than joining the West Indian ‘A’ Tour.

The future of the longer game may well be in the hands of the young generation entering their twenties now.  It will be their preferences that dictate the situation in four or five years time as each make their own decisions on where and what to play.

How easy are the counties making their choice? At present someone receiving a ‘scholarship’ at Lancashire is reported to receive £500 a month.  (A soccer signing-on fee for the youngest player is around £50,000.)  An initial county contract is probably worth £18,500 a year and at the moment an £80,000 package paid to Powell is keeping one of these young men out of the 2nd XI.

Tomorrow Third Man is taking a clipboard and a Health and Safety Officer’s I.D. to Old Trafford where England will be practicing, the Point will be receiving a last lick of paint and the Australians will still be smarting.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Grips and Gripes

  1. diogenes_1960

    …just remembering the efforts taken by my coaches at school to ensure that I gripped the bat in the MCC-approved way. These 3 pictures show the essential boneheadedness of such a coaching approach, don’t they. Perhaps the MCC would suggest that Ponsford and Bradman (and Headley) would have scored more runs if they had gripped the bat properly! Thanks for the insight, 3rdMan. As far as I know, no one ever refers to Ponsford’s batting in terms of its style – they all go on about his crab-like footwork.

    • So true what you say about coaching, Diogenes. What is now obvious is that there is more than one way to ensure that a bat comes down straight. And many of these guys didn’t even do that. Thanks so much for your thought provoking questions. There are many great words but the greatest of all is WHY?

  2. Pingback: Gripping Yarns – Ponsford and O’Reilly « Down At Third Man

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