The Glorious Uncertainty of Cricket (Criticism).

Vanity Fair (UK), June 8, 1905

(With acknowledgments to most of our contemporaries.)

FROM the Daily Anything, issue of May 30:
“If anything could convince us more thoroughly than we were convinced already of the miserable, flabby condition of English cricket (so-called), yesterday’s inglorious exhibition of pusillanimous piffling by the soi-disant representatives (!) of All England did it. Never have we seen such a wretched display. Our readers may remember that we protested against the inclusion of Slogbury in the team. It is common knowledge that the Selection Committee owe Slogbury money—hence the undeserved honour that has fallen to him. The stroke off which Slogbury got out yesterday would have disgraced an enfeebled degenerate. No man with the pluck of a caterpillar would have failed to hit the ball to the boundary. The craven Slogbury shaped at it like an epileptic baboon, and was caught in the slips. And what shall we say of Whangham? They told us that Whangham was a fine, aggressive batsman. We have seen finer and more aggressive batsmen on Clapham Common on Saturday afternoons. A man who could mistime a ball as Whangham did would rob his youngest child’s money-box to buy brandy. Blocker’s exhibition made us blush at the thought that we, too, were Englishmen. All that we can say for it is that it was better than Legley-Glancer’s. But let us draw a veil. The glorious, godlike Australian bowlers dominated our men. We felt that here, of a truth, were Athletes. The lissom Laver, the cheerful Cotter, the nonchalant Noble—what men they are! The match is as good as lost, of course, but it is some small consolation to think that we have been beaten by the most wonderful, paralysing combination that ever left the Antipodes. When our innings had closed for 150, Trumper and Duffy defied all the efforts of our self-styled first-class bowlers, and put on 23 without loss. If Mr. B. J. T. Googly thinks he is the sort of bowler to get wickets except in a match against the second eleven of a suburban kindergarten, we can only say that he is sadly mistaken. Well, well, we did all we could to have him kept out of the team.”

From the Daily Anything, issue of May 31:—
  “Good old Googly! Hurrah! Three cheers! Old England for ever! There’s life in the old country yet! We always said that Googly was the man to get Australia out. Owing to a brilliant couple of overs, in which he dismissed the entire team without further addition to the score, the Mother Country was left with the substantial lead on the first innings of 127. Nor were our successes to end here. Completely mastering the somewhat stingless Australian trundling—we have always pointed out that, strong as it undoubtedly is as a collection of willow-wielders, the present combination is weak in bowling—Slogbury and Whangham increased our lead by 200 in the short space of forty minutes. What men they are! Slogbury—quiet, graceful, poetical; Whangham—sturdy, aggressive, romantic. They make us proud to be their fellow-countrymen. And how little Johnny Blocker defied the bowling! And what perfect style Legley-Glancer exhibited. What a man he is! The Australian attack . . . weak . . . resourceless,” &c, &c.

From the Daily Anything, issue of June 1:—
  “Whatever the merits of our visitors from ‘down under’ as a bowling team—and their attack, we have always maintained, has been vastly under-rated—they certainly cannot bat. Our bowlers dominated them. Googly’s fine performance . . . England’s glorious victory . . . Rule Brit . . .” &c, &c.

(And in a week or so we shall go through it all again.)

P. G. Wodehouse.