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Cricket

Caught Frankenstein Bowled Sherlock

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Hollywood Cricket

Steve Pittard: English actors were de riguer in American movies during the 1930s. The ‘Hollywood Raj’ formed their own cricket team, which boasted the likes of Leslie Howard, David Niven and Cary Grant. Starlets in the wings provided further glamour. Olivia De Haviland served cake and cucumber sandwiches while Elizabeth Taylor sold scorecards. Hollywood Cricket Club was the brainchild of Sir Charles Aubrey Smith, a redoubtable craggy actor given to wearing baggy plus-fours – with Old Carthusian tassels at the knee – and loud checked socks. His stock-in-trade was archetypal Englishmen, often crusty colonels or benign authority figures. Whether reining…

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To Catch a Thief

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Arthur J. Raffles

Steve Pittard: England slow bowler by day and gentleman thief by night, A.J. Raffles, is cricket’s most enduring fictional character. His exploits shocked late Victorian society, who found it unthinkable that a burglar might play cricket – a sport synonymous with ‘fair play’. A.J. resides in bachelor chambers at Albany (just off Piccadilly). He can often be found at his gentlemen’s club, partaking of a couple fingers of whisky and soda or blowing perfect smoke rings. Everything about Raffles oozes class, from his silver cigarette case and silk pyjamas to his vintage cricket-bag, which still has the remains of an…

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Taches to Ashes

in Features by
Cricket Moustache

Steve Pittard: England’s ill-fated Ashes campaign featured an entourage worthy of a gangster rapper. Also, the team’s ridiculously detailed dietary nonsense – piri-piri breaded tofu with tomato salsa, if you please – equalled any precious pop diva’s riders. Yet nobody addressed the most elementary consideration of all… selecting players capable of growing a moustache. Captain Cook’s young shavers were all at sea against the lightning Mitchell Johnson (above), who brandished an impressive hairy horseshoe. Mitchell knocked England into a cocked hat and scooped up three ‘Man of the Match’ awards in the process. Everything’s coming up roses now for Mitchell…

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It’s just not Cricket!

in Features by
Cricket

Steve Pittard: Charters and Caldicott, two cricket obsessed English gents, stole the show in Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes. Cinema audiences chortled at the whimsical badinage between the bluff heavy-set Basil Radford (Charters) and dapper mild-mannered Naunton Wayne (Caldicott ). Their marvellous rapport owed to inspired casting, as the chaps had only met once before, appropriately during a theatrical cricket match. Wayne’s background was light entertainment, in musicals such as Going Gay, while Radford was predominantly a straight actor. At the start of The Lady Vanishes, set in 1938, an avalanche sees Charters and Caldicott holed up in a Balkans hotel.…

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Time Gentlemen, Please

in Features by
Time Gentlemen please

Steve Pittard: AMATEURS ABOLISHED! screamed the headlines in 1962, during cricket’s equivalent of the French revolution. Daily Telegraph correspondent EW Swanton condemned the change as ‘not only unnecessary but deplorable’. Moreover, it meant curtains for the traditional ‘Gentlemen versus Players’ fixture – cricket’s oldest rivalry – in which carefree cavaliers had crossed swords with paid professionals since 1806. Early duels witnessed the Gentlemen struggle. Though blessed with silky stroke-makers, few noblemen indulged in bowling – a rather tiresome pastime best left to under-gardeners and stable-lads. To compensate, the aristocrats rode roughshod over the rules. One wizard wheeze involving widening the…

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