The Crisis in Cricket and the "Leg Before Rule"

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THE CRISIS IN CRICKET

AND THE

"LEG BEFORE RULE"

 

BY THE HON.

ROBERT HENRY LYTTELTON

 

The author points out the danger that threatens cricket in consequence of the great increase in the number of drawn matches which are due to the huge run-getting of the present day. The remedies suggested are an alteration of the leg before wicket rule and some limitation put to the artificial preparation of wickets.

He hopes to arouse the public to a sense of the danger which now hangs over the game, and to consider what changes should be made to diminish the unhealthy run-getting of modern cricket, which is the cause of so many drawn matches.

THE CRISIS IN CRICKET

The Crisis in Cricket, piii.jpg
Photo: Central Press.
J. W. Hearne Playing Back
 

THE CRISIS IN CRICKET

AND THE

“LEG BEFORE RULE”

 

BY THE HON.

ROBERT HENRY LYTTELTON

 

WITH FOUR ILLUSTRATIONS

 

LONGMANS, GREEN AND CO. LTD.
39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON, E.C. 4
NEW YORK, TORONTO
CALCUTTA, BOMBAY AND MADRAS

1928

PREFACE

FOR some years there has been an uneasy feeling among the cricket loving population both here and in Australia that all is not well with our great national game. Little or nothing has been done, but the uneasy feeling came to a head when Lord Harris made a speech, perhaps the most notable utterance on cricket ever made, early in 1926. In this speech Lord Harris called attention to the fact that bowlers required some assistance on account of the extremely greasy wickets which were then, as they are now, so noticeable.

In my humble opinion cricket is in a critical state, and if something is not done to diminish the unhealthily high scoring of these days, the great game will fall from its present pedestal of fame. So far practically nothing has been done to help the bowlers and much to help the batsmen. Cricket is played throughout the Empire. We in England have a vital interest in the question, and Mr. J. W. Trumble's most interesting letter in The Times of the 30th July, 1926, shows that in his judgment cricket in Australia is rapidly becoming farcical because the groundsman now holds sway over the game.

It is quite possible that several changes may have to be made in the rules of the game in order practically to abolish the drawn game in fine weather which is the curse of modern cricket. No better start could be made than an alteration of Rule 24 relating to leg-before wicket. Since 1864, when the rule permitting overhand bowling was passed, nothing has been done really to help the bowler, but much to help the batsman, such as boundaries and the smooth, easy wickets. A change in the l.b.w. rule would in my opinion not only diminish the horrible surfeit of run-getting, but also improve the style of batting, and surely everybody must admit that it is time that something was done to help the bowlers.

I have played and watched the great game for more than sixty years, and nobody has lived who loves the game more than I did as it was played in the days before the modern style of leg play was introduced. I still watch the game for old association's sake, but much of the charm is gone. The huge run-getting, the fatigue of bowlers, the constant leg play, and, worst of all, the gloom of drawn matches are the causes, and I venture to write this short book in the hope that it may do something to promote an alteration of Rule 24, Leg-before Wicket, as a first step towards making cricket what is was in old days, and not merely, as now, an exhibition of batting.

CONTENTS

CHAP.
PAGE
I.
DRAWN MATCHES
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
1
II.
EARLY HISTORY
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
9
III.
LATER HISTORY
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
18
IV.
EFFECT OF PRESENT RULE
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
25
V.
BATSMEN’S OBJECTIONS
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
32
VI.
PREVIOUS EXPERIMENTS
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
38
VII.
EFFECT ON STYLE
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
44
VIII.
OBJECTIONS TO PROPOSED CHANGES TO L.B.W.
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
49
IX.
PREPARATION OF WICKETS
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
55
X.
PREPARATION OF WICKETS—Continued
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
61
XI.
MR. J. W. TRUMBLE AND AUSTRALIAN CRICKET
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
68
 
CONCLUSION
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
75

ILLUSTRATIONS

J. W. HEARNE PLAYING BACK
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Frontispiece
PAGE
W. G. GRACE READY FOR PLAY
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
62
W. G. GRACE PLAYING FORWARD
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
63
J. W. HEARNE PLAYING FORWARD
....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................
facing page 64

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was first published outside the United States (and not published in the U.S. within 30 days), and it was first published before 1989 without complying with U.S. copyright formalities (renewal and/or copyright notice) and it was in the public domain in its home country on the URAA date (January 1, 1996 for most countries).