Sunday, 16 July 2017

True art is international

The most complete version on the Web of one of my favourite cricketing stories is in the pages of the Times of India, relayed by R Guha. It helps to know that Arthur Mailey was not only a writer but also a fine cartoonist and admirer of the great masters.

Australia were touring England, and Bradman was scoring centuries and double centuries (and, once, even a triple). In desperation the England selectors chose a young wrist-spinner named Ian Peebles who hadn't played much county cricket. The day before Peebles's first Test match, the two teams were entertained at the home of the Duke of Norfolk. During lunch, the former Australian googly bowler Arthur Mailey, who was covering the tour as a journalist, was seen huddled in a corner with Peebles. After the meal was over, Mailey asked the host's staff for a cricket ball. The request granted, he went out into the garden with the novice. With an ancient oak tree serving as a wicket he showed Peebles how to more effectively disguise his wrong-un. After the lecture-demonstration was over, Mailey was accosted by the manager of the Australian team. "Don't you know that what you taught him will be used against us in the Test," he remonstrated. "Spin bowling is an art," answered Mailey, "and art is international."

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