Saturday, 15 June 2013

The Honours List

It is a sad reflection on the British state that in the 2 years since Fantasy Bob last blogged about the honours list, he has made no further progress in gaining preferment.  Many will agree that his claims to the CB - Can't Bat - medal - or the equally ancient CBE - Can't Bowl Either - have deepened over the intervening period. If nothing else he might be honoured for services to the empire biscuit industry.  But still for some reason he is overlooked.
Insignia of the CB

Nothing is by accident.  FB has not been overlooked because some daydreaming clerk deep in the bowels of the Palace has dropped his file with the extensive commendations down behind the radiator.  There is a reason.  He has gained a black mark at some point in his career.  Perhaps it is that one incident many years ago when a brainstorm caused him not to walk having snicked behind.  Perhaps it was another occasion when he turned up for a match with trousers still encrusted with grass and mud stains from the week before - the authorities obviously did not accept his excuse that the washing machine was on the blink and pointed out that he could have taken himself to the banks of the nearest watercourse and scrubbed the offending breeks in the pure mountain water.  It may have been that time that he knowingly took the last empire biscuit on the plate from under the nose of an obviously more deserving junior player.  All these would place him firmly on the blacklist, for the highest standards must be applied.  Who is FB up against?

Bradman is commonly thought of as the first cricketer to be knighted. He was so honoured in 1949. Surprisingly he remains the only Australian player to be so honoured. But the first man to be knighted for services to cricket was Sir Francis Eden Lacey.  Known to everyone nowadays as 'Who?' , Lacey was honoured in 1926 at the end of a long period of service as Secretary of the MCC from 1898 to 1926.
While Lacey had played with some distinction for Hampshire he did not play Test cricket.

Bradman's honour came at the end of his brilliant Test career. But the only player knighted while still playing Test cricket was in 1936 when HH The Maharajkumar of Vizianagram (1905–1965) (Vizzy) was honoured during India's tour of England.  After several years of significant financial support for cricket tours and activities in India and intense political intriguing, Vizzy finally was named the captain for Indian cricket team for the 1936 tour of England.  The tour was not a success and India lost heavily.  Vizzy was clearly out of his depth and a post-tour enquiry was heavily critical of his captaincy, stating that "he did not understand field placings or bowling changes and never maintained any regular batting order."  (A model for FB then).  Vizzy never played cricket for India again.  He renounced his knighthood in 1947 after India gained independence.

Lieutenant Colonel 
Sir Vijay Ananda Gajapathi Raju,
the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram
So if Vizzy's knighthood owed much to the political situation in India, rather than his excellence on the field of play or in the committee rooms, the knighthood conferred on Pelham Francis Warner in 1937 was a better reflection on cricket. He is the first English Test player to be so honoured, even though this was long after his playing career had ended - he played 15 Tests between 1899 and 1912, captaining 10 of them. But it was as an administrator that he is most celebrated, even to the point of notoriety. He was an unyielding manager of the Bodyline tour, Chairman of Selectors and subsequently President of the MCC. His role in the ending of Larwood's Test career has been extensively described and discussed, most brilliantly in David Hamilton's biography. Warner was establishment through and through - just the type to be knighted.

Sir Wes Hall
48 Tests, 192 wkts @ 26.38
Since then there have been several other cricketing knights. The most recently honoured is Reverend Sir Wesley Winfield Hall,  knighted for services to cricket and the community in 2012. He joins a list of great West Indians to be honoured and it is interesting to note that there are more West Indian cricketing knights than from any other country. Sir Ian Botham was knighted in 2007, but his citation is for services to charity rather than his cricketing career.

Two cricketers have been elevated to the House of Lords - Learie Constantine and Colin Cowdrey and David Sheppard, later Bishop of Liverpool, received a life peerage in 1997 for services to the church, becoming Baron Sheppard of Liverpool.

And then there are the CBEs, the MBEs and the OBEs.................................... All these honours and still nothing for Fantasy Bob.  It's enough to make him a republican.


  1. Passed over again.....this doesn't seem to be FB's week. He should at least be grateful to have avoided the dreaded BEM - batting extremely mediocre.