Another Ashes Test is upon us again, but – before it fades from the memory entirely – I’d like to return for a moment to the First Test.
At tea-time – if you’ll remember – things looked a liitle bleak. Swann, in particular, looked to be struggling against the short-pitched bowling of this fellow Siddle. When they came out, however, intestinal fortitude seemed to have been restored, and the rest is recent history. Various explanations have been advanced – I’ve put forward Divine Intervention, R. Ponting has implied sharp practice – but is it possible they’ve been following the example of Freddie Brown* in similar circumstances?
Shortly before tea-time on the last day of the last Test against South Africa in 1951, England required 74 to win with not a great many wickets to fall, when FRB came to the wicket. He immediately gave three chances, all of which were missed. In his own words “What Chubb (the bowler) said as we walked into tea together was an improvement even on his previous rude remarks” .
At tea, however, FRB and Willie Watson (the other batsman) discussed tactics and – crucially – “just before I left the dressing room I had a large whisky and soda to give me the Dutch courage I needed”.
FRB was soon merrily hitting boundaries and England romped home with time to spare.
I’d guess Swann might be more of a Stella Artois than whisky and soda man – but I think the basic principle remains a sound one.
*For those fed up with hearing about Freddie Brown, I have almost finished reading his book, and this vein of gems is almost exhausted.