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"HE GRIM GAME.
AUSTRALIANS IK SPOUT.
By DONALD MACDONALD.
Are we plajing games in too grim a mood-plajing them with the same dour determination with which we went to war-playing »then with the one purpose of winning while allowing almost evcij consideration in sport to tal e care of itself The charge has been quite re ccntlj levelled agnmst the \_>tr_ran tennis team, jet is onlj the repetition of eirlicr comment upon the nuods and methods of Armstrongs victomus cuckct team In tennis Patterson is the stem iconoclast who would smash his wa> to victory regardless of finesse or art In cricket rnglishmen had airca Iv taken Armstrong as the remorseless type V\ hen ever the discovery of a fault is made bj or on behalf of, a beaten side we lmj suspect pique But the charge is worth notice now because it comos frjm one of the most interesting writers on cricket of this or perhaps any other generation Mr Neville Cardus, of the ' Aljnchestcr Guardian " whose ' Cricketer 3 Book " dealing largely with the 1 ist Australian team and its exploits has just been pub lishcd He seems to be altogether too thoughtful and broad minded a miter to permit himself to become petulant or un just To a thorough knowledge of the technique of the game he brings a scholarlj style, a breadth of outlook, md generally a sense of sportsmanship which commands respect Yet he seems to be very serious indeed upon this subject of the Australians making cricket a war game, approaching it always with the fighting face, with an intensity of pur pose too deadly for a mere game One might fill a column with quotations from his book all emphasising this MOW-it recurs too often to bo merely a passing fancy, and I should not imagine Mr Cardus to be i man who permitted his emotions to run away with lum
A fair summary of a few only of his ob serration» rmj help to emphasise his point -'Australian cuckct is incarnate in Armstrong Ile bespeaks vigilance, suspi cion, determination \our Australian is a Spartan everj inch lo nclucvc conquest he will scourge himself if needs bo Tor hun it is victorj or nothing No savour in cricket for an Arinsltong if Austrilm lose This subnussion^of self to the will to conquei is not alwajs a mark of the English garie Wo havo inclined in recent years to seek for something moie in cricket than the spoils of battle-some thing moro than n comb it which, if it bring not -victim, turns all in the mouth to dust Vta have made nn nit out of cricket in this conntij We like to see the unfolding of personality, and, in deed, wc fall now and ugain so entianced under the swav of art loi art's sake-in other words batsmanship for its puic loveliness-that wi forget for a while which way the battle goes lins must seem to a mau lil e Armstrong a philoso phy of vanity lho clannish Australian conception of a gani-* has no room in it for a spreading of peacock feathet» lor Armstrong the team, and not any man in it, is the euc to action The motive power of a great Australian cloven is collective effort It is a machine functioning to wards victorj, and there is small loom in its grinding renvorselciisness for the man prone to fall m leve with a mere ¡esthetic contemplation of cuckct None of your amenities for Armstrong-on the field, at least He flint bath no stoninch to this fight let lum depart is his doctrine What pitiless acts of self abnegation the man will suffer tint Australia might win
-or not be beaten '
I hardly follow this subordination of the I individual to the team na a fault, and what 'is conceived as a flaw seems to bo phrased as a compliment, because team work-the unity and community of effort-seems to me altogether the finest phnsc of sport It appears to be the cenBurc of a plan, a mood or a policy without suggestion ol cither bad form or bad sportsmanship \ et it occurs so often in his book this challenge to the Australian conception of cricl et as Bheor combat, tint wo cannot afford to disregard it It is comment applied m the main, yet not wholly to Armstiongs leam because he remembers that we too lind our cricket artists and wizards m Irumper still have them in Macartney, ' tho heretic reckless of the unities flashing nn audacious bat m his own waj- in the spirit of a great adventure ' But with the exception of Bardsley and Maeartncj, described as dignity and impudence-orthodoxy and heresy-the charge is laid against Arm strong's side
And whdo one rather admires that "up to the handle' spirit in which Australians play Test matches especially, it would rather be a sad thing for ' the meadow game with the beautiful name ' if it were always played in just that mood It seems to me however-and this mti> be the point which Mr CarduB has overlooked-that in tensity is inseparable from lest matches which arc and alwajs must bo a law unto themselves and occur too seldom to scriouslj influence the gcncial welfare of the game one way or the other lhej arc what their name indicates the gi cutest, the last, the generally accepted test whetner they run into six da j s at Adelaide or arc limited to three days at Lords In eveiy scries of test matches one half of the cricketing world-that half which is not at the moment looking on-is much more con cerned about results than methods Should the eritket be dull, even to the limit of dcadlmcss or at least catilepsy, they have no complaint, if for then side it is a winning gime In ii sense, half the bptsracn tiiengcd in it are nluving with one eje on the bull and tho ollie* upon a spot of earth thousands ol miles away In such cucumstunccs effort even if devoted to a ncgitivo end - such efforts as that of Collins nt Manchester, when he held an end for five hours and 40 runs or in bowling suth an effort as that of Armstrong at Nottingham in 1P05 when with the same motive, the saving of u game morally lost, he bowled through the day on one spot bowled Hi overs for li" nins-are not bj their gnmnchs a disfigurement of cricket On this side of the world we can «land that sort of thing well cnougn, when is alvvij« lnppcn>> to le the ease-the con tingency of the wive nevei anning hcie it is done awi) fiom home So i test match becomes not just whit the people lool ing it it vv ish it to bo but something plajcd veiy trimly foi the lion our of the land and the absentee
lhere is jet anothei point m the case which mav hive pstaped notue lins (.run remorseless attitude of \rmstrone, s temi when tmnslatcd into encket brought le suits which would have 1» en C1 tiiclv sitis factory to l"nglithmen hud thev come from the other side Hie vcrj conditions undei which rnnlisliineii leiiin the e, i ni e de- velop or should develop, greul resourceful ness in batting In AubtiuJut willi oin finer light finer weather and wicl cts certain fixed methods when coupled with grim patience, are to most iintsmen the only rojal load to results \ct in these test matdies it was the Vusttalians who illustrated resourcefulness and the Lug lishmcn uninspired method At Notting ham one may aptlv quote Mr Cardus s ovv n words In the morning 1 nc,lish batsmanship was rubbed in the nure bv Gregor) nnd Macdonald m the afternoon nardnlcv and Alaeaitmy plaved with l.nglinds bowling for all the world us though it were schoolboj stuff
At Lord s 1 ngland devoted the laeiitei put of a batsman s d ij to the making of u methodical IS" rum, in the tag md of the afternoon The Austrnlnns made then first 50 in 25 minutes ind yot a winnini, position right avvaj with a stoic of 101 f n three wicl els In the ciicunisUiices one
might reasonably dann th it the gi un side
windi takes nsks to wfli has established th£ right to be grimly inactive-the right not to take risks wheie it cinnot win Ii brief, the test match plnjed without a certain gum intensity seems tin almost in conceivable thing
While insisting upon the lcscivation na inseparable from test matches one mav ngice with Mr fardns that it would be a pitj indeed if the same spirit dominated such u g ime as Victoria i gainst New South Wales oi n match between the PlajeiB and the CUntlemon Once the tent matches became the accepted test in cricket, and consequent!) the greatest of all games, anv thing less is m the veiy nature of things more of a spectacle oi un exhibition It wiib a means to an end lather than the great end itself nnd while wc ma) desire m such cn euinst mees to HCC OUI own Bide win we would be onlv half satis lied if Mctorj were not coupled with at
tractive cricket lor the f,«ine nftei ill is nnd alwajs has been pist a little lui gleater than the feicatcbt of those who I Play it
| In teBt matches alone perin ps the great ness of those who play against us is «evei | quite fully and freelv recognised without
some suspicion of hostihtv and resentment
j That IB because the greatness of the issuo
stands abov o every thing else, and vv ithout subordinating the spirit of sport, excusing I anything in the foi m of ii win, tie, oi wrangle pohev, the Bait will have lost its savour in test matches onlj when they arc «.played without the gum usolve and in
I «w ^happy-go-lucky ig__ ^J holiday