28 MAY 1921, Page 19

A LIFE OF CRICKET.* Is a man justified in making

cricket the main occupation of his life 1 The title of Mr. Warner's book suggests the question, and, if you have doubts about your answer, the reading of it will incline you to say "yes." As a sound propagandist of the great game and an example of the physical and moral qualities which it demands and develops Mr. Warner has done good service. An Australian writing to congratulate Mr. Warner on the victories of the English team in 1911-12 put the point plainly : "So long as the Colonies and Dependents regard the old country as the breeder of strong, virile men—men who can do things, so long it will have their respect and esteem and loyal support. You have done England an important service in a. way that very few people think or even care about in the old country."

The book is for those who like to talk and read of famous matches and flannelled heroes past and present. Their interest will be held to the end, unless the boy in them is dead. Mr. Warner's education in cricket began in Trinidad, where his father had been Attorney-General, and the black boy Killebree, who first bowled to him, prophesied that he would do great things. The hard regime of Harrison College, dominated by

• My Crieketing Life. By PP. Weiner. Illustrated. Leaden: itodolM and Stoughton. ilea. net.)

the head-master's bamboo cane, prepared him for the blissful enjoyment of an English public school. Winchester, owing to the fact that bowling and batting found no place in her scholar- ship examination, lost a notable cricketer. The chapter on Rugby, where he entered " Bobby " Whitelaw's house, will be a good restorative to the parent who has been reading The Loom Youth. The picture of school life is conventional and cricket occupies a large part of it., but it gives a true impression of the lives of those boys, happily a large number, who find an absorbing interest and a wholesome outlet for their energies in the ordinary routine.

Mr. Warner began life as a bowler, but his batting so far eclipsed his bowling that the latter became a matter for jesting among his fellow-cricketers. Ill-health handicapped him at Oxford, and only in his third year did he win his blue and don the harlequin cap that remained his mascot on every field. In 1897 he began his many crossings of the seas ; it is hard to keep count of them, but in Oporto, America, the West Indies, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, most of which places he visited more than once, we find him upholding with persistent zeal and success the reputation of English cricket, and every- where refuting the charge that we take our pleasures sadly. His comments on Australia have special interest, after the series of matches played by the M.C.C. team under Colonel Douglas. "The crowds were splendid, they cheered both sides heartily. . . . Throughout the tour the umpiring was excellent, and Crockett is the bast umpire I have ever seen."

Test match cricket never dulled his enthusiasm for county cricket, the fortunes of the Middlesex team, whose captaincy he held after 1908, being followed with a fidelity which the casual reader may begin to find excessive. And what a discipline his men can face ! For a careless bit of fielding Mignon "was solemnly held down and given six with a hairbrush as hard as Albert Trott could lay on." The final matches by which the championship was won and the seal of victory set on Mr. Warner's career are of thrilling interest. The letters and telegrams of congratulation received by the happy captain from cricketers all over England are a simple and generous tribute to his zeal for the game, a tribute always more readily given to a man of modest mind and one whose boyish delight in success can be

shared by a defeated foe. One of the best anecdotes in the book describes how Macartney the Australian on making a fine low hit had the misfortune to be caught by Mr. Warner, who grabbed the ball with one hand, and how Macartney simply walked away from the wicket with a smile, saying : "Fancy an old man of forty-four bending like that." That is cricket at its best !