All the talk of Hobbs (and Sutcliffe, Strauss and Cook) persuaded Third Man to nip back in his trusty time machine to have another look at The Master.
If, like TM, you always wanted to know what the shot in the photo above and the ones below was all about …
… with its echo of Trumper, both feet off the ground, bat behind his ear and quite unlike the ‘stepping out to drive’ of today which is played with the back foot coming behind the front foot and executed with at least one foot always on terra firma …
then do please have a look at the film here made by Charles Barnett in 1925 with the written permission of the great man. (and first seen by TM in the new Savoy in P’sfield in 1926.)
5 minutes and 28 seconds into the film Hobbs ‘hops’ off his back foot, both feet off the ground, bat raised high, before landing and swinging.
It is a length-destroying-shot. And you’ll see it in slow-mo too.
(Don’t miss the wonderful shots of Tom Hayward with a mustache and a half, this Movember.)
Why has this shot been lost from the canon to be replaced by the ‘step out to drive’? Perhaps because it must have been more difficult to keep the head still or at least in a stable eye line moving towards the ball.
As the above shot and the film also demonstrate, backward attack and defence shots were played with their contact point well in front of the body often with the back foot pointing down the wicket. Not to be recommended as this opens the hips, squares the shoulders and either results in the down swing coming across the line of the ball, or necessitates an in-to-out line. But it didn’t stop the great man making 197 centuries.
Note also how, in the film, The Master plays the cut. He initially adopts a forward press from which he propels himself onto the back foot – a technique that links him to Hussey cutting at the Gabba 84 years later.
But it is not all technique. Social historians will relish the shots of Parker’s Piece looking like a park in Mumbai with numerous games going on, Jesus College and a packed Oval.
For those who missed the above link to the film, here it is again. Apologies for the initial advertisement, but it is worth persevering … and there’s more … tomorrow.