31 JULY 1964, Page 12

The Press


T HAVE never been given to playing games : even Ileas to watching them. But I have always been told that both the playing of them and the watch- ing of them were wonderful in breeding good sportsmanship and cementing relations inside the Commonwealth and with foreign countries. I have always been a trifle sceptical as to the truth, of these general propositions; and such faith as I had in them was markedly challenged when I read some months ago that seven or eight hundred people had been killed at a football match in Peru.

Now, since the fourth Test Match between Australia and England, one wonders whether sport is a useful unifying activity, even inside the Commonwealth. It seems that in the recent Test Match both sides made a prodigious number of runs which in my naivety I had supposed was the object of the exercise. Not so : even the Daily Express, a newspaper dedicated to the cause of Empire, printed last Saturday a story by Craw- ford White when Simpson was not out 265: IT's A BORE, BOBBY. Crawford went on to say :

. . it also killed spectators' interest stone dead, and it did irreparable harm to the once-handsome image of Australian cricket.' What would Lord Beaverbrook have thought of the suggestion that the Empire had become a bore?

On the Tuesday under the headline : OWZAT THEN, SIMPSON? the same Crawford White wrote : `Ted Dexter and Ken Barrington smashed deep into Australia's massive 656 in magnificent, blood- tingling style.' Actually by Friday night Simpson had scored 265 in twelve hours, averaging 22.4 runs per hour; and by Monday night Dexter had scored 174 in eight hours—averaging 21.75 Per hour. See what I mean?

The Daily Herald did not lag far behind in the national sporting instinct—indeed, they proved themselves equally characteristic and isolationist. On Saturday under the headline : WHAT A BORE, SIMPSON, Charles Bray had a story. He wrote : `How tragic that a great double-century innings lasting two whole days will be remembered as the "Simpson bore".' In thirty years of watching Test cricket I can't remember a batsman being repeat- edly barracked after he had scored a century,' he went on. There was a photograph with the cap- tion : The slow torture continues as Simpson, reaches a memorable milestone—his 200th run.

His colleague, Ian Todd, wrote under the head- line : 'HE'S STILL HIT ONLY 19 FOURS' and went on to say, 'we are merely prey on the wing for three

second day was a crushing repetition of the first.'

On Tuesday under the headline : DEXTER STEALS THE SHOW, Ian Todd wrote : 'Ted Dexter and Ken Barrington have sabotaged Australia's massive assault to win the fourth Test at Old Trafford. In five and a half hours of sweated glory they stuffed a wedge of 246 runs between Bobby Simpson and his laurels. They took Eng- land to within 84 of the follow-on . . . Simpson's big bore was swallowed in Dexter's reign of 8 hours 1 minute for 174 runs.'

The Daily Mirror, not to be outdone in this sporting spirit, as interpreted in the century of the common man, headlined : TIME 5.20—AND SIMP- SON KILLS FOURTH TEST. Below, another headline said : AUSSIES GO ON AND ON—IT'S NOT CRICKET! On the same page of the Mirror Peter Wilson (`The man they can't gag') writes : 'I accuse Robert Baddeley Simpson. Australia's captain, who used to be known affectionately as Bobby Simpson, of having played the most spiritless, senseless—and let's make no bones about it— utterly selfish innings it has ever been my misfor- tune to watch.'

On the Tuesday Peter Wilson wrote: 'I have nothing more to say to this utterly ghastly Test Match except--G000nvE.' He did at least have the decency to write : . . . I was made unpleas-