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Old 8th November 2010, 21:25   #1
spin king
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Cricketing standards in previous eras

Many people refer to the legends of yester-year and often argue that there are several reasons why these legends are on par if not superior to the the legends of today however some of the standards of cricket back then that I have observed are quite comical.

It is easy to be fooled into believing the myth that the standards of the early eras were very tough. Uncovered pitches they say, fearsome fast bowlers, no helmets and of course Donald Bradman.

Just to give a couple of examples, Jack Hobbs is billed by many as a legend of batting however I was shocked to see this cover drive. Now today this kind of shot would be ridiculed if it was played by a tailender in a club cricket team so to see a supposed legend of the game play it is really an eye opener.

Here is more footage of the great Hobbs. LINK.

I then came across more classic 'cricket' footage and was concerned to see wicket keepers standing up to so called fast men. Cricinfo describe Gubby Allen who can be seen in action in this video as right arm fast yet he looks as innocuous as a Paul Collingwood.

It is apparent that the standards of cricket back then are no where near the level of today; this can be confirmed by many players playing long into their 40s which is simply impossible today.

I would love to hear the views from everyone on this particular topic.
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Old 8th November 2010, 23:19   #2
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About longevity cricketers seemed to be tougher in those days i.e. more durable. Bowlers, even fast bowlers used to bowl 1000 overs a summer. today's specimens would stretcher cases doing half that. Perhaps they it's because of the harder upbringings they had.
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Old 9th November 2010, 12:45   #3
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Quote:
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Just to give a couple of examples, Jack Hobbs is billed by many as a legend of batting however I was shocked to see this cover drive. Now today this kind of shot would be ridiculed if it was played by a tailender in a club cricket team so to see a supposed legend of the game play it is really an eye opener.
Well spotted with that YouTube clip, it's fascinating.

Seems to imply that was the accepted technique back than, you'd need a good eye to pull it off with any degree of regularity.

I don't think you have to go back that far to see a big difference in the quality of cricket. I've a feeling that the best players then would be the best players now, Bradman would still make piles of runs and Trueman woud still take wickets and inflict injuries. I think if you look at the standard of normal players the gulf there is bigger. Almost nobody (even Jesse Ryder) can escape field drills, fitness training, dietry advice etc. I think a team of the 60s \ 70s would be a bit under pressure from the majority of today's tests teams as they were squeezed for runs in the field, subject to endless run-out attempts etc.

Hard to name more than five current test players who genuinely have to be hidden in the field (almost wrote 'literally hidden' but that would be silly).

Guess that's two issues innit, professionalism and technique. They've both changed a lot.
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Old 9th November 2010, 15:49   #4
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In that newsreel remember that old footage is jerky so you can't tell much from it. Also it was from 1943, which means that Gubby Allen was 41 at the time. He led England long after he was past it as a player. After the war he captained the MCC on a tour to the Caribbean at the age of 45. don't know how much bowling he did.
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Old 9th November 2010, 16:36   #5
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I'm sure that there will forever be extremely gifted cricketers being born, but there must be a limit to the amount of talent anyone can have, whether it was 1900 or in a hundred years' time. Cricket has evolved like anything else good does, but the very mightiest talents would reach the top of the game under any circumstances and any era.
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Old 9th November 2010, 16:59   #6
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It's hard to say really. Players are a lot fitter these days, fielding standards (for most) are far higher, as others have stated you seldom see fat players, bowlers who achieve very good averages now have to be very incisive indeed because of modern pitches. On the other hand maybe batting averages are inflated somewhat and on that theme Bradman- who knows what he would have averaged today with the flatter pitches!?
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Old 9th November 2010, 19:28   #7
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On the other hand maybe batting averages are inflated somewhat and on that theme Bradman- who knows what he would have averaged today with the flatter pitches!?
On the contrary, what would he have averaged if he didn't have 40+ year old bowlers well past their prime to feast on? In today's era, players who are past their best will struggle to go on beyond 36/37 let alone play long into their 40s.
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Old 9th November 2010, 19:35   #8
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Cricket has evolved like anything else good does, but the very mightiest talents would reach the top of the game under any circumstances and any era.
I'm not convinced. Take that cover drive of Jack Hobbs, how could a player with such a technique cope with reverse swing and such? The techniques I am seeing in these old footages strike me as amateurish. Even today tailenders are taught to play with the bat close to the pad, foot the pitch of the ball, etc, yet back in the old days swotting at the ball with feet planted to the crease were the accepted norm.

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Old 9th November 2010, 21:28   #9
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On the contrary, what would he have averaged if he didn't have 40+ year old bowlers well past their prime to feast on? In today's era, players who are past their best will struggle to go on beyond 36/37 let alone play long into their 40s.
Allen didn't bowl at Bradman at that age. remember that was the age of the amateur captain. Usuallty a batsman but not in Allen's case.
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Old 9th November 2010, 21:33   #10
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on that theme Bradman- who knows what he would have averaged today with the flatter pitches!?
He'd have had a lower average if he'd played these days as he'd have to face bowlers of the quality of Samit Patel

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Old 11th November 2010, 11:27   #11
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I'm not convinced. Take that cover drive of Jack Hobbs, how could a player with such a technique cope with reverse swing and such? The techniques I am seeing in these old footages strike me as amateurish. Even today tailenders are taught to play with the bat close to the pad, foot the pitch of the ball, etc, yet back in the old days swotting at the ball with feet planted to the crease were the accepted norm.
I assume that if he was learning the game now then his technique would look totally different, but his talent would still put him at the top of the game. That's part of the evolution, how techniques over the years to cope with changes in the bowling. I'm saying that the most talented players would have been successful in any era.
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Old 11th November 2010, 12:52   #12
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I'm not sure I buy this idea that if these players were born today they would have automatically adapted as the game has evolved dramatically. Now if a school boy aspiring cricketer was head and shoulders ahead of his counterparts in his local league, there is no correlation to suggest that he would automatically adapt to international cricket. The likes of Jack Hobbs and such were in effect playing with fellow amateurs where standards were appalling thus even the least talented of players could succeed.
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Old 14th November 2010, 15:30   #13
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As this is a fairly slow moving Sunday, I felt obliged to look into some more videos of some legends of yester year in action.

Here is some footage of an England v Australia 1948 test match.

In partcular I was intrigued by the bowling in the period between 9 and 10 minutes (you'll need to make it fullscreen to see the timescale).

What I witnessed was an innocuos left arm spinner/slow bowler bowling leg stump darts. Now with a little help from cricinfo, I identified this fellow to be Ernie Toshack and in fact they identify him to be a left arm medium bowler. Now what concerns me is this particular dibbly dobbly bowler had a first class bowling average of 20 taking 190 odd wickets over the course of 48 matches! This is superior to incredible bowlers such as Wasim Akram, Dale Steyn, Courtney Walsh and many more.

What does this say regarding the batting standards those days?
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Old 15th November 2010, 14:45   #14
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Folks please do take a moment away from your Ashes fest to watch the videos of the pioneers of cricket in action. Then take a moment and ask yourself whether by dominating in such an amateurish era, could we correlate performances to suggest domination in today's era?
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Old 15th November 2010, 15:45   #15
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Originally Posted by spin king View Post
Just to give a couple of examples, Jack Hobbs is billed by many as a legend of batting however I was shocked to see this cover drive. Now today this kind of shot would be ridiculed if it was played by a tailender in a club cricket team so to see a supposed legend of the game play it is really an eye opener.
You do realise that's not actually a video of Hobbs playing a shot don't you?
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Old 15th November 2010, 16:21   #16
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Yes it may not look like 'shot' in comparison to cricket these days, in fact it would do a professional axe man cutting down trees in the amazon rainforest proud in my opinion. But I can assure you that given the standards of cricket in those days, this was most definitely a 'shot' in that era.
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Old 15th November 2010, 16:56   #17
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My point is that the 'video' is an animation of several still photographs which were posed for rather than taken as he was playing a shot. As such it's an approximation, but techniques were different back then, and played on top of the bounce such a shot would powerfully force the ball along the floor through the covers. Much like a player clearing the front leg these days, although nowadays they'd look to loft it rather than hitting it into the ground.
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Old 15th November 2010, 17:09   #18
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It's an awful attempt at a cover drive in anyone's book. Here is Jack Hobbs hitting a ball just for you;

LINK
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Old 15th November 2010, 18:41   #19
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Players play that shot all the time now in one day cricket. There aren't many other ways of hitting a yorker way outside off stump. I think you are looking way too much into this.
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Old 16th November 2010, 01:03   #20
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Originally Posted by spin king View Post
Many people refer to the legends of yester-year and often argue that there are several reasons why these legends are on par if not superior to the the legends of today however some of the standards of cricket back then that I have observed are quite comical.

It is easy to be fooled into believing the myth that the standards of the early eras were very tough. Uncovered pitches they say, fearsome fast bowlers, no helmets and of course Donald Bradman.

Just to give a couple of examples, Jack Hobbs is billed by many as a legend of batting however I was shocked to see this cover drive. Now today this kind of shot would be ridiculed if it was played by a tailender in a club cricket team so to see a supposed legend of the game play it is really an eye opener.

Here is more footage of the great Hobbs. LINK.

I then came across more classic 'cricket' footage and was concerned to see wicket keepers standing up to so called fast men. Cricinfo describe Gubby Allen who can be seen in action in this video as right arm fast yet he looks as innocuous as a Paul Collingwood.

It is apparent that the standards of cricket back then are no where near the level of today; this can be confirmed by many players playing long into their 40s which is simply impossible today.

I would love to hear the views from everyone on this particular topic.
Without any question, DB would have struggled to get an average of 50 against Marshall/Holding/Garner/Roberts/Bishop/Croft in the 70s/early 80s. If you have to change the rules to accomodate one batsman, then how do you feel about Cowdrey/May (LBW) or Murali (chucker). Larwood/Bowes and Jardine had him sorted until they changd the Laws. If the MCC hadn't been such a bunch of second rate whingers at the time, DB would never have achieved his icon status.
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