Tag Archives: Jack Hobbs

Watch Hobbs, Gregory, Grimmett, Rhodes and more.

England has not won a Test match for 9 days.  If you are suffering painful withdrawal symptoms Third Man has the answer.  Have a gander on YouTube at this BFI Film of England’s glorious victory against Australia at the Oval in 1926.

TM did make available another film of events from this series here  – but the quality of this BFI film is of a different order.  There are bright and sharp clips of Hobbs and Sutcliffe’s running between the wickets, gloveless Gregory, Grimmett’s arm speed (which Warne would admire and which must have produced considerable rates of rotation on the ball), Rhodes snaffling a 4fer and Mailey desperate to get his hands on the ball for a souvenir.

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1926 Ashes Decider


While some were boarding the Torbay Express to spend the summer on the English Riviera 25,000 were queuing down the St John’s Wood Road  to watch the second Test between England and Australia at Lord’s . They can be seen on a Pathe News film here.

After the wash out at Trent Bridge, there was great excitement as Carr and Collins tossed for innings surrounded by spectators.  Was it an early example of the media dictating terms or did the Captains really not bother making their way to the middle?

“We’ll have a bat,” said the Australian captain.

The Larwood Express had been brought in for Hearne but no one and nothing – not even leg theory with four short legs, three behind square – could stop the great Bardsley from ‘taking his bat out’ for 193 in Australia’s 383 all out.

In England’s ‘dig’, Hobbs (119) and Sutcliffe (82) put on 182 for the first wicket, then, Woolley (87), Hendren (127*) and Chapman (50*) took the score on to 475 for 3 declared.  What a batting exhibition that was.

Macartney, whose birthday fell on the Sunday rest day, made the first of his three centuries as a forty year old (133*) when Australia batted out time on the third and final day of the match.

Pathe News now takes us on to Leeds and another draw with Australia making 494 (Woodfull 141, Macartney 151 and Richardson 100 all scoring big) and forcing England to follow on 200 behind.  In their second innings England did a Gabba Twenty10, scoring 254 for 3 with Hobbs and Sutcliffe putting on 156 for the first wicket to save the three day Test match.

At Old Trafford there was yet more rain, causing another late start on Saturday’s opening day, this time followed by just 10 balls and 6 runs for the frustrated spectators. 

Hobbs, deputising for Carr as the first professional captain for 39 years, could not stop Woodfall from making his second successive century and Macartney his third in a row.  When England had made 305 for 5, time was called on another draw, increasing the public clamour for four-day Tests.

For the deciding and timeless Test at the Oval, Chapman took over the England captaincy.  Australia led on first innings by just 22 runs.  It was in England’s opening innings of the match that Hobbs, playing ‘divinely’, missed a full toss from Mailey, sadly not captured here by the cameera man.

Surely the famous ‘miss’ can be explained by the amount of drift and dip the wrist spinner would have got on the ball – imagine Warne’s wonder ball, but without the pitch and turn.

England then made 436 with Hobbs (100) and Sutcliffe (161) putting on 172 for the first wicket.  This does not tell half the story.  With an overnight score of 49, the pair had resumed the next morning after torrential overnight rain.  As the sun cooked the wicket, Richardson’s off-breaks from the Vauxhall end and Macartney’s slow lefty arm from the pavilion end turned and kicked viciously – here imagine Underwood in ’68 bowling from both ends.  This was extraordinary batting.

Requiring 415 to win, Australia were ripped apart by Larwood (3-34) then Rhodes (4-44). 

It is often remarked that Gregory batted without gloves even to Larwood. Can that be true?  Gloves were skimpy affairs with the sausages on tapes that were wound round the hands and would have been difficult to see on film.  But surely this film confirms that the Australian faced his opposite number without gloves.

And so England won the Ashes for the first time in 14 long years with so much real death and distruction between that it was really a different world in which Pathe News captured a pitch invasion as if it was a West Indian victory in the 1970s. 

“We want Chapman …We want Rhodes,” roared the crowd.

All this captured in 14 minutes of celluloid.   For those counting the minutes to midnight tonight, this film offers more interest than yet another 14 minutes of pre-match twaddle from Sky.  Do please have a look.

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1926 And All That

As the cricketing world waits for the start of the 2nd Test in Adelaide tomorrow night, Third Man has taken his Mark III time machine back to a very wet Trent Bridge in June 1926 – one month on from the General Strike, one year on from Britain’s disastrous return to the Gold Standard, eight years on from the end of the Great War.

That day’s action (and others in that summer) were captured by Pathe News. A 14 minute compendium of their news reels can be viewed here.

A crowd of 20,000 had turned up to watch the first day’s play.  Their numbers contained those who only days before had been striking and those who only those same days before had been volunteering to keep services running. 

However, these were the men who a decade before had fought together side by side, making the best of unimaginable circumstances.  They would not be divided for long.  Now they stood together again, making the best of the delay in the start of play caused by incessant rain.

These, who had witnessed the horrors of that war, who had lost comrades and some of the best years of their lives, who still had nightmares that kept their memories sharp, were determined to enjoy their cricketing heroes in their encounters with their erstwhile comrades in arms, the Australians.

England had last won a series against them in 1912 – it could have been a hundred years ago for all that they had experienced in the intervening years.  They would lose themselves in the cricketing feast before them, but they understood its proper proportion in the scheme of things.

In 1921 the Australian fast bowlers had been dominant, but in 1926 only Gregory remained.  The England openers, Hobbs and Sutcliffe,  never failed to better 50 runs in their six completed partnerships.  In a rain affected series they scored 486 (av 81) and 472 (av 78.66) respectively.  For Australia, ‘The Governor General’ and survivor of the 1909 tour, Charles Macartney  whose fortieth birthday would fall on the rest day of the Lord’s Test made 473  (av 96.60).

On the opening day of the series the start of play was delayed by rain.  When, in gloomy conditions, the players did manage to get onto the field at 12.15, England scored just 32 runs before further rain drove them off for good.

Gregory was quick but at the other end Collins used the slow left arm of Macartney, bowling negatively from over the wicket on a leg stump line to a field with three short legs.

To remind us of the playing conditions operating in those days, the film shows the wicket fully covered while everyone waited for play to begin but, then, just two short covers over the creases after play had begun.  It rained heavily again on Monday and Tuesday and no further ball was bowled in the match.

When the ending of the General Strike had been announced some employers wished to turn the surrender into a rout.  They and the Baldwin Government were not able to do so because, on the hint of this, the many former soldiers among the volunteers made it clear that they would have no part in such a campaign.

They were all off to the cricket, together, no matter the weather.

Tomorrow we follow the crowds to Lord’s.

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Jack Berry Hobbs – How Did You Do That?

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.

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