Wednesday, 22 June 2011
Bring on the Druids
The summer solstice is said to mark the start of summer or midsummer, depending on your preference. This is deeply confusing. FB thinks it marks the start of winter as the nights begin to draw in immediately. The cricket season reaches its half way point this week. Summer's lease hath all too short a date, as Shakespeare put it. In any case, summer in FB's northern latitudes is on occasion a fragile, not to say elusive, concept. No more so than this year and the longest day has turned out to be the wettest day since, well, yesterday, probably.
The summer solstice brings out the Druid in everyone. FB's researches do not reveal the extent to which the Druids influenced the development of cricket. Indeed little is known about the Druids, there being no Wisden at the time to record their deeds. Their culture and philosophy appears to be wholly oral. Possibly the most authoritative source is Julius Caesar who described the Druids' influence in Gaul, but there is some doubt as to whether he was telling it like he'd seen it or just reporting folk-lore. As a Roman he paid scant attention to any cricketing detail in favour of lots of stuff on battles, road-building and bath construction. Caesar held that Druids took the function of judges but also had important roles during human sacrifice and that the commonly used method for this was through burning in a woven frame - a wicker man. Movie buffs will be familiar with the cult move the Wicker Man which culminates in ritualistic sacrificial burning.
Oh dear. FB's researches reveal that there was an elementary error in transcription. Caesar did not write wicker man - he wrote is wicket man. Sacrificial burning gradually gave way to LBW as a mode of dismissal as early cricket clubs began to struggle for numbers.
It is very important that this contribution to the game is celebrated every year and all cricketers should be grateful to the new age travellers for keeping this tradition alive. It is a pity about the nose flutes and finger cymbals.