To the Editor of the Manchester Guardian.
In reference to “A. E. C.’s” discussion of the question “Is golf destroying cricket?” in your issue of June 9, one would like to suggest another side of the matter. Putting aside all vague – and I believe, ill-founded – generalisations as to the growing “selfishness” of our day, there are three reasons why so-called “softer” games are tending to grow at the expense of cricket.
(a) Ordinary men play games for the sake of exercise. Two hours’ golf or tennis will guarantee as much exercise as five hours’ cricket for the average man who is not put on to bowl and is no great bat. And this exercise is regular and fairly continuous; whereas in cricket the effort must almost necessarily come in short bursts with long pauses between.
A picture of the Cricket ground at Hastings, circa 1910. Photograph: Popperfoto/Getty Images
(b) Although there are long pauses in cricket, yet there is a continuous nervous strain. It is not to be expected that those classes whose work leaves them nervously tired at the week-end will desire to play a game demanding close attention over long periods of suspense. Further, the fact that most workers spend their lives mainly indoors, must render them less capable of withstanding the considerable constitutional strain of standing still in a cold wind.
(c) Then the most convincing reason of all is that of the risk of injury. Men are not growing more cowardly. It is simply that competitive conditions have so changed that men will not lightly risk being laid up with a smashed hand. It is not so much a question of physical risk as of economic risk. And there is a degree of danger in cricket to the hands which enters into no other game. Many a man will easily endure the rough-and-tumble of Rugby and Association football who will yet think twice before standing up to face a fast bowler, with the uncomfortable sense that the slightest mistake or chance may leave him with a badly trapped finger or something worse.
Bernard James Tindal Bosanquet (1877-1936). Bosanquet was a hard hitting middle order batsman and until 1900 right arm fast bowler, later converting to leg break and googly. Circa 1905. Photograph: George Beldam/POPPERFOTO
One would also add in reference to the “discipline” of cricket, that for ordinary men who are working every day in co-operation with others there are ample opportunities of learning the lesson of unselfishness. In fact, it might be a good thing if in exchange for a little economic prudence in games the business world were to concede some opportunities for the application of the rules of cricket.