31 JANUARY 1925, Page 9


F.VEN those who scarcely know a bat from a boundary a felt the excitement and suspense of that glorious match at Adelaide. And the suspense was no less (we feel that somehow it might have been less) for the fact that here in London we knew the result of the day's play before it had begun. By the charity of space,. at ten o'clock in the morning the more enthusiastic of us were snatching papers from newsboys to learn how England had fared that afternoon ; which was a quite villainous lack of economy, since evening papers published at ten o'clock in the morning contained nothing of interest except the one item, and we knew that we should have to buy another edition of the same paper a few hours later. Yet, proverbs notwithstanding, it was worth while to waste our pennies : we had news to keep us happy the whole day long. For the first time for years we Were satisfied, that England produced cricketers as great as any, and that Englishmen played the game as valiantly and nobly as it can possibly be played. We were more than satisfied in our team ; we were honoured in it.

For there can never have been a more stubborn, high- spirited battle against fate. Four of our five bowlers were at one time out of action, and Hendren and Whysall were called upon to act as All-England bowlers against one of the strongest teams in the world ! With a score of overwhelming size run up against them, Mr. Gilligan and his fellow-players were not overwhelmed : they fought with as much steadiness and resolution as if nothing were amiss ; more than that, their misfortunes roused them to exhibit their best form, and every single man of the team, in one innings or the other, played like a hero, and accomplished what must have been, in the circumstances, one of the greatest feats of his life. And though they lost the game and lost the rubber, they set us up in confidence for some years to come. Now we are sure that, when the Australians come to England and fight on our own variable, wanton, and delightful pitches, they will be playing among their peers. We are not too gravely disappointed that the game was lost; for it proved to us again that the Australians are great cricketers, and we would not have our friends- and-enemies incapable of fighting as hard in good fortune as in bad. The result has in no way affected our pride. • It was cheering to note that the amateurs in our team won as much glory as the professionals ; and that there was no difference in the quality of their play. For there was something of a turmoil in the English cricket world. Mr. Cecil Parkin, the journalist, had been criticizing in a Sunday paper the composition of Mr. Gilligan's team, and had given advice to the world on the composi- tion of our future teams. His main recommendation was that a professional should be made captain in Mr. Gilligan's place. Now Mr. Parkin, the journalist, had every right to criticize ; we have no doubt that he intended to be helpful. But he was very unwise. For last year he played in a Test Match as Parkin the professional cricketer, and a few days later, changing quickly to Mr. Parkin the journalist, complained in the same Sunday paper that Mr. Gilligan had not made proper use Of Parkin's abilities. Now it is understood that players do not criticize their own captain in public, and moreover players had been definitely informed that they must not write about the match ; and so Mr. Parkin was undeniably in the wrong. It would have been much- more seemly, therefore, for Mr. Parkin to have kept quiet for the future upon Mr. Gilligan's merits as a cap- tain. Might it not seem that he still retained a mere private grudge, and was anxious to air it ?

And then Lord Hawke, who has done more for pro- fessionals than any man in the country and loves them as brothers, was moved by this indiscretion to pray that he might not live to see a professional captain England. We know that Lord Hawke's heart is in the right place ; we know that he would not willingly say a word against professional cricketers ; and we are quite sure that his outburst was not to be taken as an attack upon them —it was merely an ill-timed and ill-worded expression of indignation at Parkin's action. For there is probably not an amateur in England who would not joyfully play under a professional if he were the best man available as captain ; and one of the chief delights of English cricket, one of the reasons why so many of us love the game, is that there is so little snobbishness among amateurs and that professionals play with as fine an outlook, as true instincts, as anyone. There are no suggestions in cricket, as there have been in -such games as football and baseball, of " graft " or spitefulness. The only reasons for holding it advisable to have an amateur as captain of the English eleven are reasons of utility. It is probable that most professionals would play more happily and more smoothly under an amateur captain, for it is better, on the whole, to have for authority someone who is different from yourself in his position. We know, for example, that women will often work more contentedly for a man than for another woman. And again the function of captain is in part a social function. Thirdly, it often _happens that the amateur has had more training in the duties of captaincy than the professional. We should say, ourselves, that we should have no fears and no regrets if .a professional like Hobbs were chosen to captain England ; but we are glad that Mr. Gilligan has proved that our amateurs are still capable of holding their own and pulling their full strength in any team. There is no cause for change in.our procedure, for we have just seen what magnificent results we can ehtain with an amateur captain.