To work at our games or play them is the question that is facing the gamesloving nations of the world to-day. In some games and in some countries the question has been decided. With us in this country it is overdue for decision, and now, when we are reasonably well placed in most of our sporting encounters, is the time to take action.
Fifty years ago the Football Association took the matter in hand. It cleaned up its house in the amateur and professional business, the " shamateur " disappeared and the professional became a tradesman.
Because all tradesmen cannot be relied upon to be straight tradesmen, control became necessary. Rules were made and independent judges were appointed to see that they were obeyed. It is the players' business to know the rules and play according to them, it is the referees' business to see that they do and to allow no nonsense in the matter of arguments and appeals.
SYSTEM SATISFA:eTORY Allowing for human weakness on the part of the referees, the system proved satisfactory so long as all the clubs involved acknowledged the same authority and kept the same rules. International contests with foreign countries have raised a whole series of new problems of rules and conditions. Unless conditions can be stabilised and made universal, such contests must cease. They do more harm than good. They breed discontent, they develop into minor wars, produce serious casualties and lead, almost, to international complications.
Golf, thanks to Hagen's advice, so far as its professional side is concerned, has become a real job of work and our workmen, as soon as they had time to accustom themselves to the position, have become as good, and as successful, as any in the world. Our amateurs, the genuine ones, are lagging behind and will continue to Jag behind so long as they remain sparetime players and are content to compete with whole-time pick-up-a-bit-on-thesidcrs.
THE DIFFICULTY You cannot make a successful Walker Cup team at the week-ends. International matches are again the difficulty, and in golf the rules are almost identical, the physical conditions as like as physical endeavour can make them, the snag being in the ethical outlook.
Lawn tennis is still in a class by itself. It is universally administered with a business-like elasticity that satisfies everybody and deceives very few. It is generally believed that, in tennis, our troubles are just round the corner. The United States are training world-beaters by the score in their schools. We should worry! That is where we are training our cricketers, and look at them!
Which brings us to the greatest game in the world in the saddest plight it has ever known. Cricket is a professional game in amateur control and that, in the course of recent years, has proved itself as unsatisfactory as it is undemocratic.
Cricket is big business; its fees and charges fluctuate with its drawing power.
• There is only one way to conduct big business satisfactorily and that is on a business footing. Wise business men have no truck with verbal agreements. A man's word is his bond just as much as ever it was and no real man is afraid of putting it in writing for all the world to sec.
There is only one satisfactory way of playing cricket, and that is according to a universally accepted set of rules and conditions laid down by a universally accepted authority and administered and assessed by competent and independent judges who, in the discharge of their office, shall be subject to neither interference nor control. If the light is bad or the ground unfit for play, the umpire should say so without being asked.
When a batsman is " out " let it be in accordance with the rules of the game administered by the umpire unhampered by the fallibility, the timidity or the aggression of any claimant.
LIKE DOCTORS Professional cricketers, like any other tradesmen, are trained in accordance with the rules of their trade. Like many another business, cricket thrives on specialisation. Batsmen and bowlers are like surgeons arid physicians, all-rounders are the general practitioners of the game. As in the medical profession so in cricket, branches specialise in branches of branches.
Who would have any sympathy with a surgeon who called for the barring of a pathologist who found a homeopathic cure for appendicitis because it put the surgeon out of work? Who could have any respect for the medical association that upheld any such claim? How long would such an association be tolerated?
"WAR AT ANY PRICE" That is exactly what has happened in cricket. A number of batsmen have, by appeal to authority, succeeded in getting a bowler barred from participation in
in ternn tinnal rrielcet heratice in gtrirt
got, a " gentlemanly agreement " with all the emphasis on the " gentle."
They complained about a policy ol " war at any price," though the price was always strictly fair. and the reply is a complete capitulation lose at any price to anybody, any time, any place, anywhere.
Why ehould professionals learn to play cricket if they can be barred for getting too good? If a thing is contrary to the spirit of a game it ought to be made contrary to the rules of the game. If a controlling body is n6t ashamed of taking an action it should not be afraid to publish that action.
DISTRUST IN AUTHORITIES The spirit of cricket is dying because players and public alike distrust the authorities in control. They are " shameteurs," they pretend to care nothing for money, but are willing to sacrifice the game to make it. If our visitors from overseas were told that they could either play our game according to our rules and our conditions or stay at home we would not only have a good game but we would have universal respect. We will never get that now without a new controlling body.
Jack Doyle can always " make the front page." His career in the ring has been more successful than impressive and he made more money out of his film (something in the region of 13,000) than he has ever made from any incident in his chosen profession. Even if the 13.13.B.C. were impatient with him, B.I.P. were generous.
In America he has been undergoing that characteristic process known as " building up." He has knocked down his " set ups " with ease and consistency. His sponsors were more careful than they need have been unless the Wild Irishman has gone off considerably; in his early lighting days in this country he had the beginrungs of everything but self-control; there was no need to pick Doyie's opponents out of a kindergarten.
REDOUBTABLE BUDDY The match with Leo Williams was to have been the last step on the road to Buddy Baer. The redoubtable Buddy, the nineteen-year-old brother of Maxi " Bright-lights " (dimmed) who, by the way, is starring with Sophie Tucker in an up-state cabaret, fell for the Doyle bait earlier than was expected and the clash with Williams became more of an obstacle than an escalator.
It was cancelled because, if Williams had beaten Doyle, the whole plan would have come unstuck and, on the night of August 22, there would have been millions of fight-fans outside the Madison Square Garden Bowl on Long Island showing no desire to get in.
Buddy Baer is Jack Doyle's first real opponent in the Stales. Their contest is scheduled for six rounds because New York State taw says Buddy is too young to fight longer, but despite his age, Buddy scales 17 stone trained, and carries a punch in either fist like the kick of a Wyoming mule.
ONLY SERIOUS RIVAL He is no "push-over." There are "them as thinks" Buddy will soon be Joe Louis's only serious rival for the World Championship. It is wonderful how easily the claims of the reigning champion—James J. Braddock—are disposed of now that he says he is of English parentage.
Before leaving the leather-pushing business we must hand it to Signor Mussolini and his government for taking away Primo Camera's passport for conduct unbecoming a fascist and an Italian in getting beaten by an Ethiopian in his country's hour of crisis. Maybe they'll use him in the tank corps
We have to write so often so sadly about cricket that it is a real joy to recount the revival of an ancient custom common in the days of Fuller Pilch and Alfred Mynn. On the historic St. Lawrence ground at Canterbury how many joyous ghostly fielders must have joined the six allowed (and the P.C. long-stop) when C. S. Manion, of Kent, challenged Tom Goddard, of Gloucester, to a match at single-wicket f9r a tankard of nutbrown ale with C. B. Fry and A. P. G. Chapman as umpires and Gerey Weigill to make the notches?
As batsmen, both are more willing than well-equipped, but each is a mighty trundler. Great Goddard of Gloucester got his ale free while a thousand spectres raised ghostly goblets, not to the cricket that is past, but to the dawn of its revival.