Page:Jubilee Book of Cricket (Second edition, 1897).djvu/480

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

sequently ought to be satisfied. Cricket is the best athletic food for the public. It is not so furiously popular as football, nor so much thought of in some districts. But it has a more even and a firmer hold on people in general. Neither time nor money has tarnished it. There are very few newspaper readers who do not turn to the cricket column first when the morning journal comes; who do not buy a halfpenny evening paper to find out how many runs W. G. or Bobby Abel has made. Many of these same people go to the Oval on Saturday afternoon to see Surrey play Gloucestershire. And the large majority of them would be doing nothing if they did not do this. The remembrance of a bright half-hour when Tom Hayward and Walter Read were in together makes the cricket news doubly interesting all the summer. It is a grand thing for people who have to work most of their time to have an interest in something or other outside their particular groove. Cricket is a first-rate interest. The game has developed to such a pitch that it is worth taking interest in. Go to Lord's and analyse the crowd. There are all sorts and conditions of men there round the ropes—bricklayers, bank-clerks, soldiers, postmen, and stockbrokers. And in the pavilion are Q.C.'s, artists, archdeacons, and leader-writers. Bad men, good men, workers and idlers, are all there, and all at one in their keenness over the game. It is a commonplace that cricket brings the most opposite characters and the most diverse lives together. Anything that puts many very different kinds of people on a common ground must promote sympathy and kindly feelings. The workman does not come away from seeing Middlesex beating Lancashire or vice versa with evil in his heart against the upper ten; nor the Mayfair homme de plaisir with a feeling of contempt for the street-bred masses. Both alike are thinking how well Mold bowled, and how cleanly Stoddart despatched Briggs's high-tossed slow ball over the awning. Even that cynical nil admirari lawyer caught himself cheering loudly when Sir Timothy planted Hallam's would-be yorker into the press-box. True, he caught himself being enthusiastic and broke off at once; but that little bit of keen appreciation did him no harm. Jones and Smith, who quarrelled bitterly over that piece of land, forgot all about the matter under the influence of Ford's hitting, and walked down to Baker Street quite familiarly. They will come up in the same carriage to-morrow morning, as they always used to do till last month. Yes; there is a world of good in cricket, even in cricket as played nowadays, though it does require so great a sacrifice of time that might be devoted to more obviously useful pursuits.