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Essex Shield

Tales from the Boundary



My fellow contributor to TFTB, David Brangwyn (whose pieces I read with interest), seems to have a wistful fondness for the days when amateurs featured more in cricket AND football.

Of course, WW2 was a great watershed, not only for cricketers but for the nation, indeed the world.   Wally Hammond turned amateur and so was selected to lead England on the 46-47 Ashes tour; Cyril Washbrook did the same and led Lancashire; Bill Edrich turned amateur and captained Middlesex but jointly with Denis Compton, who, as far as I know, remained professional but played like an amateur anyway.

Of course, amateurs did not have the fear of losing their living, though some (Percy Chapman comes to mind) seemed to live life on a financial knife edge.   The pros' objection was amateurs taking pros' places (and match fees), especially when teachers turned out to play in the school holidays.

Some selections on the 50-51 Ashes tour seemed curiously amateurish, with captain.  Freddie Brown, allegedly, chosen over a postprandial port or two.  One wonders if they were under the 'influence' when 'dropping' Bill Edrich, for divorcing too much, and selecting 19 year old Brian Close.   Other controversial choices were the Cambridge pair, Sheppard and Dewes, plus their University team mate, John Warr, whose one Test wicket cost 281 runs.  Most controversial was the selection of McConnon ahead of Laker AND Jim missed out on the 54-55 tour too.

Of course, Sheppard did later perform with distinction and was even touted as England captain instead of Len Hutton.  Bill Edrich returned to the fold and played his part on the 54-55 tour, which saw May and Cowdrey, both Oxford students, show their mettle.

The perennial amateur (or shamateur) was Trevor Bailey who was supposedly paid for his secretarial rather than his cricketing skills BUT did both very well.

And then there's...

Andrew Appleby

An addendum: Wally Hammond turned amateur pre-war, as he led England in 1938.  Cyril Washbrook was never an amateur - he just behaved like one.

With thanks to David Brangwyn