Works in the Herald 1934

I wish it to be understood, here and now, that I refuse - no matter what pressure, what threats be employed to terrorise me; no matter what fair promises, what flatteries be held out to lure me from my resolve - I wish it to be clearly understood that I refuse finally, absolutely and irrevocably ever to become a member of any Test team of touring Australian cricketers while conditions prevail that are repugnant to my free spirit and my inherent love of liberty that is the birthright of every true democrat.

I will readily admit that considerations other than my own high resolve might be deemed, by certain prejudiced persons, bars to my eligibility for any Test team, but these, after all, are trifles.

I will admit, for example, that any carefree tendency to play high over straight yorkers may be reagred by some as a batting blemish. I will admit also that my playful habit of cocking up off-balls with unerring accuracy into the willing hands of silly-point may be distorted by others into a fault fatal to my inclusion.

But such things sink to the level of mere side issues when I make it known publicly that I will, of my own free-will, strenuously resist inclusion, flinging meanwhile a hollow laugh into the haughty face of the tyrant.

It may happen that I shall never be captain of a Test team; but I am, and shall ever remain, captain of my soul.

Therefore, speaking from now henceforth in a purely Pickwickian sense, I ask the Board whether is arbitrary rules and regulations do not smack of an intolerant tyranny typical of the nasty Nazi, combined with what looks like an insidious attempt to disrupt the scared bonds of family life that bears more than a hint of the brutal policy of the baneful Bolshevik?

This separatist policy was, I believe, pursued by Herod and some of the toughest of the Roman emporers. Later on, slave-traders and slave owners tore husband from wife, uncle from nephew, brother from brother. But never, since those days until now, has such tyranny been so comprehensively practised.

For, mark you, not content with interfering merely with the marriage tie, one of the Board's clauses mentions inter alia:-

"... his wife or any member of his family or any relative or connection ... or any of his children under his legal control ..." And the proscribed area includes: "... England or elsewhere outside of Australia where the team from time to time may be touring."

Is the Board, I ask, so ignorant of the very rudiments of modern social psychology that it imagines that any wife, having a will and an income of her own, will submit to this?

I ask again, what of love? What of eternal devotion? Is the smiting of a leather sphere with a willow club so important in the scheme of things that its pursuit should drive the thin edge of the wedge into the scared bonds that keep our home fires burning, and so incur such widespread indignation as to cause writers to mix their metaphors?

Once more, I ask the Board, "What about my Uncle George?"

My uncle George is a very rich and influential business man from whom I have expectations: and every summer finds him in England on an important commercial mission. Must I, supposing I am picked, go to my rich Uncle George and tell him he will have to stay home this year?

Again I laugh, hollowly.

Also, what about my wife's cousin Egbert? Egbert is a pressman with a good job in Fleet Street. But should I meet him in the Stand I, the Board's poor slave, must cut him dead. For it is written that I shall not "... communicate with the Press or any member, servant or agent thereof."

But enough of this. I could go on citing cases and imagining instances till the Ashes came home.

I am content if I have made my own position clear; and I solemnly declare that no pleading, no coercion, no pulling of invisible strings or visible legs will ever induce me to become a member of the Test team.

I defy the Board!

Herald, 12 February 1934, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2003