Friday, 4 November 2011

Where do the ducks go in winter?

JD Salinger's great novel about teenage identity anxiety, The Catcher in the Rye, is 60 years old this year.  There is little about cricket in it, based as it is in New York and New England.   a pity for cricket might have offered its troubled narrator Holden Caulfield some relief from the problems he faces in coming to terms with growing up.  Instead of a good session of net practice, Holden roams the city pursuing girls, downing highballs and generally getting himself in a bit of a state.

At one point Holden Caulfield asks 'Where do the ducks go in the winter?'  A prosaic enough question and of intense interest to the ornithologically minded.  Conventional interpretations of this passage suggest that it is a metaphor depicting Holden's acute anxiety about what happens to the innocence and sun-kissed world of childhood when adolescence sets it - or something, you can make this bit up yourself.  But there is no cricket reference in this passage - so getting your bearings can be a bit tricky.  Maybe Caulfield just likes ducks.

Had Salinger been inclined to include cricket in his novel, he may well have asked a more interesting question and one that is of concern to cricketers everywhere. 'Where do the doughty groundsmen go in winter.'  A question which puts any concern about ducks into proper perspective.  The season is ended, the mowers are cleaned, the top dressing is applied.  Where do the doughty groundsmen go?

FB suspects that  doughty groundsmen fly south and that Carlton's doughty but nameless groundsman must be among the flocks of doughty groundsmen that can be seen against the morning sky as they make their stately to winter feeding (if not breeding) grounds.  Modern tracking technology is beginning to put together their life cycle.  But the species is shy and will protect its identity - as the attached fleeting image from a recent scientific expedition shows.  There is so much more for scientists to learn about the life cycle of this fragile species.


  1. What a sight! How did you manage to capture this lesser-striped DG?

  2. Like all good journalists FB must protect his sources.

  3. Lesser? Is there a greater DG?