Don Bradman Would Have Struggled To Play Cricket At This Village Cricket Field!
The wonderful cricket fields at Bowral and Sydney cricket grounds, in Australia, enabled Don Bradman to execute his sublime batting skills for the pleasure of thousands of cricket fans. I wish the television coverage had been better in those days because his batting heroics have been largely unseen. I have always wondered how he would have coped with the cricket conditions at Cropton Village cricket ground pre 1970’s.
Cropton cricket field has a long history. Cropton had a cricket team back in 1858 and played their local rivals, Cawthorne, in an eight-a-side game that year. The game of cricket was enjoyed by local villagers and over the years the village team was fairly successful. The only break was during the two World Wars period.
Before the 1970’s the cricket outfield was never cut and the shortness of the grass depended on which animals the farmer kept that year. If the farmer kept sheep the grass would be shortish, but sheep s..t was everywhere on the field. If the farmer kept Cattle the grass would be longer and cow s..t would be everywhere on the field. If the farmer decided to make hay then the game of cricket was played in astronomically long grass and at hay time there were large haycocks everywhere on the cricket field. So life was tough for a cricketer at Cropton and the outfield always presented a challenge.
Due to the field conditions the Cropton cricketers developed some of the best agricultural strokes in the area. ‘Cow shot corner’ was a favourite destination for many of the batsmen. Fielding was a nightmare because the long grass meant that “lost balls” were an ongoing problem. Our team once scored 10 runs because the opposing team forgot to shout ‘lost ball’ before finding the lost cricket ball . Picking the cricket ball up, amongst the sheep and cow s..t , produced some amusing incidents.
One of our players was so keen to get the ball to the wicketkeeper that he picked up cow s..t and the ball at the same time. The wicket-keeper caught the ball and cow s..t went all over his cricket whites, much to the amusement of everyone. In another incident a player caught a catch whilst diving into a haycock. Many a cricket ball was lost in a haycock. It was very amusing to see hay flying everywhere during a cricket match as the fielders tried to find the ball.
Could Don Bradman have handled these conditions?
His superb cover drives would have travelled approximately 3 yards before pulling up in the long grass. The pitch was a bit dodgy too. One ball might have flown around his ears and the next might have been a daisy cutter. The thought of Don Bradman covered in cow s..t has crossed my mind too!
I am sure that Bradman would have coped with any conditions because he must have been the most phenomenal cricketer the world has ever seen. But I do wonder how the great man would have batted at Cropton cricket field in North Yorkshire, England!