Wednesday, 26 October 2011

The OK Corral

ODI venue
It is clear to Fantasy Bob that the Gunfight at the OK Corral, which happened exactly 130 years ago today in Tombstone Arizona, was not conducted according to the Spirit of Cricket.  Paragraphs 5 and 6 of the preamble to the Laws say
5. It is against the Spirit of the Game:
  • To dispute an umpire's decision by word, action or gesture
  • To direct abusive language towards an opponent or umpire
  • To indulge in cheating or any sharp practice, for instance:
    (a) to appeal knowing that the batsman is not out
    (b) to advance towards an umpire in an aggressive manner when appealing
    (c) to seek to distract an opponent either verbally or by harassment with persistent clapping or unnecessary noise under the guise of enthusiasm and motivation of one's own side
6. Violence
There is no place for any act of violence on the field of play.
These worthy sentiments were wholly, and inexcusably, ignored in the the 30 second confrontation.  Frank and Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton were killed; Doc Holliday, Morgan and Virgil Earp were wounded but survived. Wyatt Earp was the only one who came through the fight unharmed. This brutal incident is generally regarded as the most famous gunfight in the old West and has been mythologised as much as the Bodyline series.  It represents the coming of law to the lawless west, civilisation to the wilderness, the coming of spin bowling to the pace saturated chaos.  You choose your metaphor.

Fonda on location
The confrontation has fascinated movie makers and many versions and presentations have made their way to the screen.  They keep coming.  But for FB the finest is John Ford's My Darling Clementine made in 1946 and starring Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp.  Ford's film is far from a historically accurate depiction of events, and is highly romanticised.  That does not really matter since it does not present itself to be documentary - but it is authentic in its examination of the complexities and challenges of bringing law and order to the wild. 

One of the many historical inaccuracies of the movie is its location shooting which, in common with many other Ford Westerns, took place in Monument Valley about 400 miles from the actual location in Tombstone Arizona.   Those locations - the wide open spaces with brutal sandstone buttes randomly standing like fielders in the outfield underpin the themes of the dramas.  They are another star in the cast.

Almost 20 years ago to the day Fantasy Bob and Mrs FB made the first of several trips to the American West inspired by John Ford's films as much as anything.  On these trips they would spend some time on a ranch being cowboys, riding the range and poking the cattle.  For the rest, they would tour around and see the sights.  They didn't do any gunfighting.  However they did visit Monument Valley and an incomparable sight it is.  They stayed in the motel at the edge of the Valley and watched a video of Ford's first great Western Stagecoach, looking out the window to see the moonlit locations as the screen action unfolded. Test Match Quality.

John Ford (not the cricketer)
John Ford the movie director is not to be confused with John Ford the cricketer who played one first class match for Gloucestershire against Hampshire in 1951.  Ford the director was making The Quiet Man in 1951 which, following its release the subsequent year, won him his record fourth Academy Award as Best Director.  Cricket does not feature in this or any other of his movies.  Nevertheless he remains a sporting hero for FB.

Nor is cricket a feature of the Old West, although there is evidence that there was a Cricket Saloon in Deadwood.  It offered bare knuckle and dog fighting as entertainment to its discerning clientele.  It is reckoned that Wyatt Earp spent some time in Deadwood in 1876-77, but the Spirit of Cricket available at the Cricket Saloon might have influenced his approach to being a lawman.  Nothing else was available for the Spirit of Cricket known to FB was not formulated until the year 2000.

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