Thursday, 16 December 2010

Something wonderful

'Stand at attention while the ball
 is bowled, m'boy'
a still from the British Council film
Fantasy Bob wishes to share something truly wonderful with you. 

Here is a link to a film about cricket made in 1948 by the British Council.  It is based on the Test at Lords on Bradman's final tour - a handsome victory by Australia. 

This is one of a series of films made between 1930 and 1950 that are now being made available on line.  The films showed various aspects of British life extolling and explaining quaint British ways to foreigners.  What the audiences made of them is hard to imagine.  To our modern ears the commentary, which includes the wondrous tones of John Arlott, lapses from time to time into Hearts of Oak condescending jingoism.  But this lost world has great charm.

The crafts of bat and ball making also feature in some of the film's best footage which suggests that no one under 50 would seem allowed to exercise these skills.  Maybe this was a prophetic glimpse of the troubles that would beset the post-war British economy.  The leg break and the off break are explained and demonstrated - since it is obviously very important that your foreign person fully understands these concepts.  Quite why nothing else is explained is a mystery.

Britain has changed, cricket has changed.  Beyond recognition in many ways, but these words of the commentary ring across the years: 
"But victory is the least that men play cricket for. They play it for a host of reasons, ill defined and hard to seek. On school ground, on city street, on village green, they play on. For the urge wells deep from quiet places in men and in the land they spring from."
Well that certainly describes FB although the pleasure of victory shouldn't be underestimated.

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