True Courage 17

In test match nostalgia mode recently. For my readers from non cricket playing countries, a cricket ball is solid and hard. They can and do break bones, can fracture a skull and in those days before helmets and padding would very occasionally kill.

I was hoping to find the point a little earlier in this innings when Close fronted up and just deliberately let the ball bounce off him, which was incredible. Again to explain, if the ball is not going to hit the stumps behind you, and you keep your bat out of the way, you are very unlikely to get out. But not raising your gloves and bat to defend yourself against a lethal projectile hurtling at your face and neck at 90 mph plus is an incredible discipline, especially as you need to play it if it is heading towards your stumps, and you have a millisecond to make that decision.

About 40% of the readership of this blog is from non-cricketing countries, which is why this is explained in non-cricketing language. Cricketers can just enjoy the video.

I am not sure there has ever been a more beautiful sight in sport than Holding running in to bowl.

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17 thoughts on “True Courage

  • dreoilin

    A more beautiful sight in sport?
    It’s Brian O’Driscoll going over the line.
    (Mind you, our cricketers weren’t doing too badly lately either.)

  • CheebaCow

    My favourite bowler has always been Curtly Ambrose. It’s probably my age, but for me the greatest competition in cricket was the Aussies vs the Windies in the 80’s and early 90’s.

    As for the vid you posted, I would assume that most Australians quite enjoy watching English players getting struck with the ball (ok not really, but it does seem somewhat karmic from our perspective. Shame Jardine, shame!

    “I don’t want to see you, Mr Warner. There are two teams out there, one is playing cricket. The other is making no attempt to do so.”

  • Paul Johnston

    Brian Close was the finest header of the ball England ever produced.
    I didn’t however agree with his going to South Africa.
    As to Holding they didn’t call him whispering death for nothing.
    Most beautiful sight in sport?
    Lara or Tendulkar stroking a fast bowler to leg side.
    Or all those sixes Geoffrey Boycott hit off Dennis Lille (Just for you Suhayl :-))

  • Wikispooks

    Whenever I see reference to Cricket and Holding, it reminds me of Brian Johnson setting the scene for listeners to a resumed 1976 Test Match at the Oval with the immortal words:
    “The bowler’s Holding, the batsman’s Willey”.
    Wikipedia holds the episode having happened at all in some dispute, but I heard it and Brian Johnson struggled not to crack-up (or should that be break down) in tears of laughter for the rest of his commentary session. I remain convinced that he did not realise what he was saying until he’d said it. It was bloody hilarious.

  • Scouse Billy

    O/T but another co-incidental death.

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  • John Goss

    It’s a pity you’re all too young for ‘fiery’ Fred Trueman. He had to take on the old school tie brigade before proving his worth on the pitch. But the real ‘true courage’ is Tom Watson’s relentless pursuit of James Murdoch.

  • ingo

    Non cricketeers unite I say, a sport that kills like Boxing? who would have thought.T
    three cheers to Japans women for winning the football world cup what an achievement.

    I am not sure there has ever been a more beautiful sight in sport than Holding running in to bowl.

    I’m not sure either, but I would say that Hitlers face on seeing Jesse Owens win the 100 meter in 1936, his third gold medal during the ‘Aryan’ Olympics, has it by a smidgeon.

  • craig Post author


    Yes, I heard it too. But I suspect the did know – he was a wonderfully mischievous old bugger.

    I always wanted to be John Arlott. I still do.

  • John Goss

    Even those who didn’t hear it, heard of it. John Arlott, Brian Johnson, were of a period when (in black and white admittedly) cricket was for everybody. It was a perquisite of the television licence fee. Then along came the Murdoch family and suddenly everybody has to pay for nearly everything: cricket; football; education; dentistry, legal fees and hospitals! All these were once free.

  • conjunction

    Agree about Holding’s action, I also liked watching Malcolm Marshall. Those guys were smooth.

    Being English, however, Trueman was my favourite bowler. I saw him a few times in the sixties. He could swing the bowl either way, he was fast, and he was as aggressive as Lillee.

  • conjunction

    Good point about free dentistry, John.

    According to Nicholas Shaxson’s wonderful book ‘Treasure Islands’, it was also in the sixties – when all these things started to become unfree – that the creeping deregulation of the banks started. Its nice to heap merde on the head of the Murdochs, but perhaps also something apart from acid started to get into the water in those years.

  • Courtenay Barnett


    ” I am not sure there has ever been a more beautiful sight in sport than Holding running in to bowl.”

    If there is – it has to be Usain Bolt running several metres ahead of the other runners to the finish.

  • Ian

    Hi. You explained how it is brave to stand and allow oneself to be hit by the ball, but you did not explain WHY he did this? I don’t understand the tactical advantage. I have seen but one cricket match on a hot and sunny July day many years ago in Ontario, Canada played mostly as I recall by people of British, and West Indian background. Perhaps I should watch a few games where I live in Victoria, British Columbia. There is a pitch downtown that is used regularly. Thanks for the posting and for your various others on mostly more serious topics. I am a fan.

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