Category Archives: Just a quick brush

Will o the Wisps or Ashes Tour Events Centre First Test Day One


“If Dick Nyren taught Third Man one thing it was ‘Never sledge an alpha male, Third Man,’” opines Third Man to Camera 1.

“Lor’, will they never learn?” offers Johnny Small, his corporate shirt already sticking uncomfortably in the humidity of a November Brisbane morning.

“Of course we Georgian cricketers would have employed the verb smut or to smutter,” elucidated Davy Harris, his silk neckerchief, as ever tied around his ample waist.

“To shower in soot, literally.”

“Many’s the time we carried a bag o it on t’Down,” said Silver Billy queuing for his turn.

“Aye, nothin’ better than ‘Ambledon soot. Rare stuff.”

“Would you say this was Nipper Broad’s most significant contribution to the history of t’Ashes?” linked Tommy Walker from pitch-side.

And so they filled the air between our continents with their jolly reminiscences.

“Is anyone out there?” no one asked.

The Squire had gone to bed at 11.45 before the start of play.  He’d seen enough: England upright and eagerly accompanying their National Anthem; Trott launching into the second verse before being ‘sent back’ by the lively Root; Australia feigning the bravado of their ARU cousins, arms linked with the frailty of a daisy chain – deep Terror in their eyes; without exception.

Off camera: “What’s Lehmann said to them this time?”

Off camera: “They’re stuffed before they start. Smith 5, Smith 5, Smith 5. They could reverse the order and make more runs.”

– How shall we fill our nights?” the poet asked.

– Following Will o the Wisps. *

*  A Will o the Wisp resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached, drawing travellers from the safe paths.

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In and Out of the Pool – An England Selection Test

Out: the England selectors have sent James Anderson poolside for some R and R.  Appropriate given his resemblance to Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool.  

In: Jonny Bairstow, the low handed slapper, who the West Indies caught wearing one at Lord’s and several at Trent Bridge.

His is a technique suited to reversing and quick scoring on low and slow surfaces, but looks shockingly suspect in Test cricket. 

Note the perfect example of the low handed slap with tell-tale horizontal elbows, below, and the direction in which the ball has been hit.

And from a different angle, same shot but another match:

There was much moaning that in county cricket Bairstow would not have been exposed to the pace and hostility of a Roach.   But the following image might have been of his first ball at Trent Bridge … but it isn’t. 

It is difficult to get hands above the ball with his technical approach and modifying something so ingrained could take more than the ten days between the Second and Third Tests.


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Two More from Kinsella

A couple of posts back, Third Man was able to express his glee at finding the long lost image of what he was to learn was ‘The Hope of His Side’, a painting by E.P. Kinsella depicting a young scamp enjoying cricket. 

Here are two more.  Above, the splendid ‘The Catch of the Season’ and below ‘Good Enough for His County’.

They were issued as postcards as well as small prints and must have found their way onto the doormats of many a young hopeful, just as King Edward VII took guard.


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It is a red letter day, with a brand new extra large 90p first class stamp stuck on the top right hand corner


The first House Martin showed up this afternoon, bang on schedule after a 6,000 mile flight,  to take possession of their part of the cottage Third Man shares with these loyal friends.

A quick look at the remnants of last year’s nest and off down to the river for some fresh mud.

The cricket season can now begin in earnest.

Secondly, back-a-long, Third Man mislaid his mother’s favourite cricketing picture; a young scamp in an oversized hat with a bat too large for him taking guard with just a hint of trepidation as he eyes silly mid on waiting to pounce.

TM has looked high and low for any reference to this picture. 

No Bubbles advertisement this. 

What was it?

And failing that, where could a replacement be found?

And there it was, lurking on some site devoted to UNcool Britannia along with a crude etching of Francis Hayman’s Cricket at Mary le Bone Fields.


Thirdly, it would seem that the artist, E.P Kinsella, produced a series of six in total, all circa 1902, and sold them as postcards.

So, here’s another, particularly well suited to Third Man. 

The apprehension on the poor fellow’s face , though craftily concealed from the bowler, was obviously well founded.

The shock of it!

And soon the sense of humiliation.

What are the odds on TM now finding the original, illusive portrait under a pile of the Squire’s blueprints and technical drawings?

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Highway 311 Revisited

The Squire seems to be enjoying his stay in the Dubai emirate, if not the cricket. 

Although he has ‘invested’ in a small island in the World, approximating to the South Downs, he shuns the new and frankly vulgar accommodation, preferring the traditional bedouin tent presented to him in the 1830s by Maktoum bin Butti.

 “Mak was a man after my own heart, TM.”

On those early trips, the Squire would take Third Man out pearl fishing, tie a rope round him, load him up with stones and push him in.  That’s how the famous Hambledon Pearl was found.

Despite the obvious changes, the Squire is clearly at home here.

“It reminds me so much of the old country three hundred years ago, Third Man: the Fancy, the racing, the excess, the carriages, the speed, the daring-do, the inequality, the system of government, the invention of pleasures, the addiction to risk.  All without the bother of time-travel sickness.”

The other day, when the cricket was too desperate to watch, he kindly took TM shopping to buy a pair of sandals.  Then, with a few fellow ‘bucks’, they set out on the E311 in a borrowed Merc..

There was nothing technically nor culturally to prevent England winning the third Test match against Pakistan in Dubai.

“A lighter bat and a fresh guard,” recommended the Squire.  “And a spot of sandal surfing for anyone giving up his wicket.”

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Oh What’s Occuring?

For those trying to keep pace with what’s occurring in cricket its rather like living on the surface of a fast expanding balloon – where you are moving away from everywhere else at an accelerating rate.

On this day:

Cricket Sri Lanka has been forced for financial reasons to hand over three of its newly built or recently redeveloped cricket stadia to the Army (Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota), Navy (the Pallekele Stadium, Kandy) and Air Force (The R Premadasa stadium in Colombo).  

Their inappropriately job-titled media manager said, “We are not in a position to afford the maintenance costs.”  Worrying news.

Meanwhile the Sri Test team, playing at Sharjah, are 237 runs ahead of Pakistan with five second innings wickets remaining in a match which they must win to square the series.

In New Dehli, Test cricket has finally come toIndiain the eleventh month of the year – a comment on the place of Test cricket in the modern game.

Chanderpaul, who many may last have seen piling on the runs at the Rose Bowl for Warwickshire against Hampshire is now piling on the runs against one of his favourite sides. His 111 not out is his 24th three figure score in Tests and his seventh against India.  The West Indies scored 256 for 5 at 2.81 an over on this first day of the first of a three Test match series.

There is no reference to the numbers attending – a statistic that football would never omit.

At Cape Town, the Australians are preparing for the start, in three days time, of the first of their two Test series against the Proteas.

And in Bulwayo, yesterday, a bold Zimbabwean run chase fell 35 runs short of the 365 run target set by New Zealand in the only Test being played on their tour.

The Squire is taking refuge in the library where he is using the Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker metric to make a scale model of the universe.

It is all enough to send Third Man to the Ice House in search of a cold towel.

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Some Old Bat Grips or a Missing Masterpiece?

Regular readers will know that the Squire likes to entertain young artists who he regards as promising.  They are invited to the Great House for a long weekend of conversation, cricket and creativity.

Most leave behind a work or two by way of thanks.  As the centuries pass it does become difficult to remember these visits and the works left behind.

Only in July, Third Man found that an old sight board  , that had been used back in the ‘Fifties and which was stored in the old stables, was in fact an early work by Robert Ryman.

At one time the Squire employed, on work experience, a young student of Art History, down from St Andrews University for the summer, to begin the considerable task of identifying and cataloguing some of these waifs and strays, but she was soon whisked away by a special guest determined to exercise His droit du seigneur.

Since when the job has fallen onto the aging shoulders of the Squire’s willing factotum, Third Man.

Which is why TM begs your help in identifying the creator of the work published above – entitled ‘Pink’ – which clearly was part of a series as there is another entitled ‘Red’.


There is a Warholian feel to them and indeed the Guest Book lists a Mr A. Warhola in June 1950 with the signature below.

The second quest is surely more of a puzzle.  

The only clue is a description or title painted on the reverse of the canvas in what appears to be boot whitener: Can You Help Find the Ball Mummy.  

Looks vaguely familiar.

Any ideas?


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