Saturday, 17 September 2011


Scarlett with clothes on
Scarlett O'Hara's nude photographs have been hacked and are now viewable on every street corner.   Fantasy Bob perplexed, he is an avid fan of the great movie Gone With the Wind but he cannot recall seeing mobile phones in use, far less any nudity particularly of its heroine.

The US Civil War is the background to the story of Gone With the Wind.  The Civil War was the cause of many tragedies, one relatively unacknowledged is the impact it had on the development of cricket in the US.  Before the war it was estimated that over 10,000 Americans played cricket; in 1859 the National Cricket Association had been founded and George Parr's All England XI has visited America and Canada as part of the first ever such international sporting tour.  In 1860 the Gentlemen of Ireland toured.  The racial politics that led ultimately to the Civil War also affected cricket - for in 1858 black professionals in California left for Victoria in Canada following state legislation on slavery.

So it was all bubbling nicely even though base ball was developing at the same time.  But the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 put a damper on the game's development.   The war uprooted men from their homes and leisure was scarce. Pitches fell into disrepair and it also became very difficult bring cricket gear and equipment from England.   By contrast, the simpler structures of baseball suited war-time. It was quick, easy to learn, and required little in the way of equipment or facilities.  The Civil War also ended the touring by English teams for the duration.   Instead, English tours focused on Australia (the first one in 1861 and later on in 1863) thereby popularizing the game down under.  
Not thinking of cricket

After the war, while there was a bit of a resurgence of cricket, the dam had been breached and it was baseball that became the national sport. Even then the Cincinnati Red Stockings, baseball’s first professional team consisted mainly of cricketers. In fact, when Red Stockings and Athletics toured England in 1864, they played both baseball and cricket.

Gone With the Wind is a truly great movie, with huge performances by great actors and a wholly wonderful score by Max Steiner.  But now FB understands it better.  The film opens with the following narration:
'There was a land of cavaliers and cotton fields called the old South.  Here in this pretty world, Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of Knights and their Ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave.  Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered, a Civilization gone with the wind...'
The conventional reading is that this a lament for a past way of life of deference and servitude where everyone knows their place.  How wrong can you be?  It is clearly a lament for the loss of cricket as the US's national game.  FB is grateful to Scarlett O'Hara for baring her all and drawing attention to this piece of history.

Frankly my dear, there'll be no Test cricket from now on.......

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