I’ve been putting it off, but I’ve finally got down to it; yes, I’ve finally read Gideon Haigh’s piece on cricinfo about the Collingwood/Sidebottom/Elliott run-out controversy. I try not to read his stuff too regularly because it always makes me feel inadequate. An example: in the first paragraph he uses two words that I’ve had to look up – and I thought I was reasonably well-educated. If you haven’t been there yet, the offending words are “rusticated”, as in “Collingwood has been rusticated to a county game” for his tardiness in over rates etc etc, and “condign” as in “but some see his punishment as morally condign.”
Anyway, having leapt that particular hurdle, it seems that the main tone of the article is not so much the moral rights and wrongs of Collingwood in not withdrawing his appeal, but more a treatise on who – batsman or bowler and fielder – has the right of way in the circumstances that unfolded at The Oval, and its implications for the Spirit of Cricket.
He passes on Geoff Boycott’s anecdote from his own experience, which the Yorkshireman suggested showed how standards had fallen: he was batting with Fred Titmus when the spinner was involved in a mid-pitch collision with Neil Hawke and Wally Grout, the Australian wicketkeeper at the time, refrained from removing the bails.
But for every good action there is a bad one and if you need an example that Collingwood’s behaviour was not the natural result of our decaying society, I have one for you.
Roy Marshall was batting for Hampshire in the second innings of their match against Glamorgan at Cardiff in July 1965. Taking off for the run that would have brought him his half-century, he slipped in mid-single, pulling a thigh muscle. As he tried to crawl to his crease, Don Shepherd, apologetically according to a reporter who was there, whipped off the bails – and Glamorgan weren’t even in with a chance of winning.