From an old Australia but comfortable in the new

I just thought that this was a story worth making sure everyone interested in this sort of thing would see. It is from cricket, and the opposite end of the Adam Goodes story told so well by Jupes. This is about Alan Davidson turning 90.

No other sport is like cricket, and certainly there is nothing like it I can think of from the North American sports I grew up on. Possibly my favourite quote is from hockey, from the owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs when I was growing up, Conn Smythe: “if you can’t lick ’em in the alley, you can’t lick ’em on the ice.” Cricket is different, very different, and Alan Simpson Davidson showed it. A wonderful article, from which the following two stories are told in succession:

After play on the third evening of the last Test of the 1961 Ashes, Alan was having a drink with Ken Barrington, England’s ruggedly dependable No 5. What was Alan doing the following night, he asked. Would he come along to help at a junior presentation night? They agreed to rendezvous at 6.30pm.

It happened that Alan was bowling the last over of the day’s play to Barrington, stubbornly ensconced on 33. He finished the over with a fierce bouncer; rather than hook, Barrington stopped it with his chest.

As stumps was called, spectators saw Barrington gesturing towards Alan with his bat, seemingly in remonstrance. In fact, he was saying: “Remember! 6.30!”

Familiarity maintained behavioural bounds in play as well. During the Headingley Test, Barrington’s teammate Colin Cowdrey was 93 when he gloved a ball down the leg side but looked like getting away with it when the umpire’s finger stayed down.

Cowdrey’s reputation as a “walker”, even as a man of piety, was briefly jeopardised by the scent of a hard-won 100. From Alan’s wicketkeeper, Wally Grout, emanated a delicious sledge: “Are you reading the lesson this Sunday, Colin?” Cowdrey hastily tucked the bat beneath his arm and departed.

Another world, in relation to the times these stories are from and in comparison between cricket and every other sport ever known.

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