Wednesday, 18 July 2012


After the flood, the world washed clean. After the long darkness, light.  So it is that recent days have seen a reemergence of Revivalist fervour in Scotland.

Revivalist meeting in Largo Sunday 15 July

Congregations of the faithful have been seen assembling garbed in saintly white. These outdoor meetings resound with the ululations of the devotees as they implore their spiritual leaders and divine powers to impose justice on an otherwise imperfect world. ‘Howzat’ they cry in unison as their ecstasy overcomes them. ‘Howishe,’ the refrain comes again followed by a long sigh as there is no divine intervention forthcoming. These were habits of worship which seemed at risk of being lost, so long had the flood prevented the worshippers from assembling. Fantasy Bob is relieved to note that the spiritual commitment of the Scottish cricketer has not faded in this latter day dark age. During the flood, the powers of darkness walked the land and spreading all manner of temptation, punishments too for there were weekend trips to IKEA. But cricketers retained their faith.
Thomas Chalmers

Scotland has an honourable tradition of revivalism, so the cricketing congregation’s resolution is not wholly unexpected. The most celebrated revivalist was the 19th century the Scottish evangelist minister Thomas Chalmers, at first a professor of mathematics who became increasingly fervent as an evangelist and ultimately led the Disruption of 1843 that resulted in the formation of the Free Church of Scotland. The split ended years of dispute over the critical issue of who had the right to appoint umpires.

The establishment of the Free Kirk put an end to Sunday cricket fixtures in many areas. But cricket, along with other sports was seen by many active Church people as a good thing in line with the Victorian concepts of muscular Christianity and many cricket clubs had origins and links with Church organisations. Chalmers lived for the last years of his life in Morningside in Edinburgh, where he may well have seen the fledgling cricketers who not very many years later would found the Carlton Cricket Club.

Thomas Chalmers
Thomas Chalmers died in 1847, 2 years before the first Scotland England cricket match. He is therefore not to be confused with the Thomas Chalmers who is regarded as the first great fullback in Scottish rugby. He played in the first six international matches between 1871 and 1876, which were all against England. He also represented Scotland at cricket, being a decent bat and seam bowler. Playing for West of Scotland against Australia in 1878 he scored 38 against the bowling of Spofforth, which is more than many an English batsman was to score against the demon bowler. Chalmers also played in a trial for the first soccer international against England. A contemporary report says he was "a capital goalkeeper, albeit the rules were new to him." He did not make the team, but he evidently set a standard for Scottish goalkeepers.

Just as biographies are silent on the preacher Chalmers' bowling action so they do not tell of the later Chalmers’ religious convictions. But names with religious connotations seem to run in the family for the later Chalmers' nephew, who also played international rugby for Scotland, was named John Knox. Now there was a revivalist.

FB understands that by the time his worldwide readership look at this posting the powers of darkness may well be testing the faithful again with further deluges putting at risk revival meetings later this week.  He is confident that cricketers will remain strong in the face of such torment.

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