The Emperor’s New Clothes or Wearing a T-Shirt for Douglas Jardine.

The not so humble T shirt, the undergarment that ‘came out’, self coloured or tye-died, ringer or billboard, utilitarian or expressive, mute or shrill – should we wear one for Douglas Jardine?

The boys at philosophyfootball think we should and for this winter’s Ashes tour they have selected for one of their garments the Harlequin’s strikingly modern campaigning assertion that “Cricket is a battle and service and sport and art”. 

History has been cruel to this Lion of England.  In every way, opinion has moved against him and towards his foes – the hecklers on the Hill, the journalists of Nineteen Thirties Australia, his Establishment familiars, even his ambitious Vice Captain. 

Yet, if anything, culture has moved towards his approach if not his heritage.  Who would not fancy him to bring back the Ashes in 2011 – as he did in 1933 – four, one?

Cricket has become more professional, more abrasive, more ‘win at any cost’.  In other circumstances Jardine might be regarded today as a hero of the game, but Third Man doubts he will be inducted into the ICC’s Hall of Fame

Cricket long ago clothed itself in a myth of fair play and idealised virtues. Was it the way the early aristocratic enthusiasts excused their dalliance with the lower orders in pursuit of the demeaning shepherd’s game?  Was it the pretence by which schools prepared their pupils for war and colonial administration?   Was it a convenient narrative by which old professionals romanticised their playing careers and obscured their humble origins and self-serving match-play? 

Big cricket cricketers have always found the garment course fitting, so why has Jardine, remained unfashionable?

The costume that today configures itself in the folds and frills of the Spirit of Cricket may be a fig leaf, but nevertheless it must be worn at all times with respect and subservience. 

He who questions too closely the Emperor’s new clothes risks becoming a lightning rod through which the guilt and greed of others reaches the ground.

Is it time therefore to rehabilitate Douglas Jardine? 

As in most things, we must start much earlier.  In November 1928 the genial Percy Chapman led a team Down Under.  As now, after a long period of dominance, Australia, with their great players aging or retired, were finding it hard to reconstruct their side.

Percey Chapman wore a funny hat and thumped Australia 4 -1 but the game has been far kinder to him than it has to Jardine.

England on the other hand were able to send the following batting order to the printing office at the Gabba as the series begun on the morning of November 30th: Hobbs, Sutcliffe, Mead, Hammond (a debutant in this match who was to score 905 runs in his 9 Test match innings on this tour), Jardine (another debutant), Hendren (who, coming in at the crisis point of the match, if not of the series, when England were tottering at 161 for 4 on that first day, scored 169 of England’s first innings of 521 in a five hour game-changing innings ) and Chapman himself. 

Patsy Hendred on his way to 169. Has he actually got a lot to answer for?

These batsmen were complemented by a bowling attack of Tate, Larwood, White, Geary (in subsequent Tests) and Hammond. 

In reply, Australia lost their first four batsmen for 40 in a disastrous last hour of the second day and eventually sunk to 122 all out.  The youth Bradman, who had already scored 295 runs against the tourists for twice out, was lbw to Tate for 18 batting at number 7.  Larwood took six for 32 in 14.4 overs. 

Tests being timeless affairs in those days, England batted on to 342 (Mead 73, Jardine 65*) in their second innings before declaring 741 runs ahead in time to take the wicket of Ponsford before the close of play on the fourth evening.

Overnight rain then made batting conditions treacherous and White 4 for 7 in 6.3 overs, Tate 2 for 26 and Larwood 2 for 30  sent Australia to a crushing and demoralizing defeat by 675 runs.

The impact on the home side’s supporters, their media, their cricketers past and present and especially on Bradman would have far reaching consequences.

To be continued …


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4 responses to “The Emperor’s New Clothes or Wearing a T-Shirt for Douglas Jardine.

  1. diogenes

    it’s interesting to see that Mead did well…but then he did tend to do well when picked as his average suggests for the few tests he played – wasn’t he one of those whose Test average was actually higher than his first-class average? I guess his fielding told against him. And Hendren amongst the runs aged 40ish? A strangely underrated and under-selected batsman considering the length of his career..

    • Mead received just 17 caps and indeed averaged a couple of runs more than he did overall: 49.37 to 47.67 with 4 centuries from his 26 Test innings, according to Cricinfo.
      Hendren’s 169 seems of such strategic importance yet it doesn’t rate a mention in Illingworth and Gregory’s “The Ashes” and even in the Peebles’ biography it merits but a single line.
      Both sides were ‘elderly’ and underweight in bowling. But had Hendren gone cheaply in that first innings of the first Test at, say, 170 for 5 who knows what might have happened.
      Almost certainly Australia would have avoided the weather affected pitch of their last innings. Did the innings also have an impact on Gregory’s fitness?
      A contrafactual starting from 170 for 5 could be full of implications later for the fortunes of Bradman, Larwood and Jardine.

  2. diogenes

    Thanks for reminding me of Ian Peebles’s biography of Hendren. I read it as a boy and yet came away without any clear idea of Hendren as a batsman – which is odd when you consider how many runs and centuries he scored! When people talk about Bradman and Hammond, they tend to refer to a couple of iconic innings – Hammond’s 240 at Lords, Bradman’s triple centuries at Headingley. You don’t seem to get that with Hendren. It had slipped my mind that he was in the 28/29 squad! Perhaps his most famous Test innings was the 130 he made in 1934 when he was well into his 40s. Maybe his most important Test match innings were made after he turned 40, which might explain why he is not more spoken about – at that age, most batsman tend to restrict their strokeplay. I am going to have to start digging around the stats – thanks for the pointer 3rd Man! Incidentally, on paper, the 28/29 English line-up was awesome. Hobbs, Hendren, Hammond, Mead and Tyldesley all scored more than 100 centuries. I guess however that all except Hammond were close to the end of their careers. The England selectors were a strange bunch, weren’t they, not to have employed such strength earlier in the 20s. Your points about Gregory and Larwood are interesting as well – wasn’t this the match that Gregory broke down finally? Also, this must be the only match in Australia pre-Bodyline, where Larwood got more than a handful of wickets.

  3. Pingback: Crowd Psychology – 2nd Ashes Test Sydney December 1928 « Down At Third Man

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