Category Archives: Aranya Puthi: 1001 Forest Tales

8. Tale of the tattooed ones

My Tattooed XI would be: Brendon McCullum (c) (w/k), Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli, Kevin Pietersen, Shikhar Dhawan, Michael Clarke, Hershelle Gibbs. Lasith Malinga, Dale Steyn, Mitchell Johnson

Gayle has a tattoo of tribal design on right arm. Mitchell Johnson has Japanese koi and cherry blossoms for luck.  Gibbs? A cross and a barbed wire on his right arm. Kohli? Japanese warrior with raised sword. Etcetera. What amuses me is the depth and strength of the squad and looks like a powerful XI!

Michael Clarke tattoos on 4arm

7. The man with no dismissal records

guru_disciple-336x352Sadhu continued: as published in History Today in January 1955 from the Derby Mercury that there lived a certain gentleman by the name of Mr Osgothorpe of Sheiffield ‘of whom there is no record of his ever being dismissed’. In fact at one match in 1772 her batted for several hours against Sherwood Foresters and the match had to be to be abandoned after the audience were ‘hampered’.

Little is to say that records are little at this and no more such records exist as to the fact of this matter!



6. Colonel Brett’s gallantry at Chittagong (1934)


This happened during Chittagong Uprising in the early 1930s.  Surya Sen, leader of the rebels was hanged and the Hindu terrorists sought revenge by rounding off spectators during a cricket match. George_Cross

At teatime on Sunday January 7, 1934 about 50 European players and spectators, including women and children, were in the tea tent chatting and taking refreshment.At about 5.30 pm teatime an attack was suddenly made upon a group of European players and spectators by four youths armed with a revolver and seven bombs.   The group included children and women and they were taken under a shamiana (tent) on a hillock and two assailants came out from behind a small bungalow and threw bombs running at the Europeans. Both the bombs were dud. As one was firing, Major Douglas Brett, unarmed, rushed to the man, wrestled him to the ground and saved the day from the terrorist.

Colonel is the only one man who has received a medal for bravery on the field of play. Subsequently he was awarded the Empire Gallantry Medal, later officially exchanged for the George Cross.


I believe this will keep you enchanted till tomorrow for about the gentleman who was never dismissed in his life, ended the Sadhu solemnly!

5. A 160-mile six

Once, the Sadhu narrated next night, a well known professional was playing in a ground adjacent to a railway. As he took a great drive the ball went straight through the carriage window and landed in it and traveled at sixty miles an hour. It was found by a porter about 160 miles from the epicenter!

4. From ‘Catapulta’ to Loughborough: cricket inventions

Oh did you know that Mongoose MM13 – he seem to refer it as a rifle or something- guarantees to offer 20% more power than traditional designs?

No, I admitted, I did not know that.

Well then. You have also probably heard of the famous ‘Catapulta’ mentioned in Wisden how it was the first bowling machine invented by Nicholas Felix. He was a many of many talents. A classical scholar, a musician, linguist, author, artist and of course an inventor, his highest score in first-class cricket was 113 for Kent against Sussex in 1847. He scored – Sadhu seemed to have phenomenal memory – a century for England v. M.C.C. and Ground at Lord’s in 1843. Also in the year of 1842, his innings of 88 won the match for the Gentlemen when they had not beaten the Players, on even terms, for 20 years.

He is also known for the inventor India rubber batting gloves.

But of course a first known invention would obviously have to be the ball. The construction of the ball is unique and there is an exactness to it. In 1780, Duke of Kent manufactured the ball and still delivers for first-class matches. It is 5½ ounces of cork covered by four quarters of shiny leather casing woven together by six pieces of string or seam. Contrast it with the tape ball of recent times introduced in the streets of Pakistan first where a half of a tennis ball is covered with electrical tape.

But from the early days of the Catapulta before we enter the labs of Loughborough, do note the importance of sightscreen, catching cradle, the score sheet, the bails, and of Hawkeye and hotspot.

There is also the Snickometer which was invented by the English computer scientist Allan Plaskett, and it records a ‘snick’ through soundwaves on a computer screen.

But the ultimate wizardry of invention must be that of Merlyn invented by Henry Pryor. As the site proclaims:

Merlyn by BOLA’ is a state-of-the-art machine that delivers programmable, spinning balls, of every imaginable variety. It really has had everyone in a spin!

It surely must have taken a fletcher’s imagination to create the first bowling machine for it to evolve into one programmable of such subtle nuances.

3. Cricket fabric and fabrication

Perhaps the greatest fabric pertaining to cricket myth is just that- a fabrication. The farthingale in question was that of Christina Willes of Kent. She was the sister of John Willes and in the early 19th century while bowling her hooped skirt got in the way. So she bowled round-arm to avoid it.

The veracity of it remains unproven. But it is true that in the early days dames did play and they played in large hopped skirts, corsets, laced shoes and bonnets.

You must have read Reading Mercury on July 26, 1745 how there was a match between the villages of Bramley and Hambledon, near Guildford in Surrey which took place on Friday on Gosden Common. The Bramley and Hambledon maids were distinguished blue and red ribbons on their headdres.. The Bramleys got 119 notches and the Hambledon 127. In fact the report mused how the girls bowled, batted, ran and caught “as well as most men could do in that game.”


It was in the mid 1800’s that the top hat was replaced with a white bowler hat with a ribbon for the club colors and then a later on a straw hat would replace the bowler hat. As the game evolved, so did the fashion out of necessity with protective gear of gloves introduced in 1820 and batting pads first seen in 1836.

Men’s apparel would be defined by top hats, oxford shoes, high collars and bow ties. By 1930s the women would wear woolen stockings, brogue shoes, knee-high skirts and white blouse.

Of course in early days of cricket traditional ‘Flannels’ were the uniform.

I mentioned Hollies last night, did you know…he paused, that his cap once went unsold at auction?

Of course, when it comes to stealing memorabilia one would often like to include, err, a matter of certain ‘inventions’ on their mantelpiece.

2. Bradman the wicket keeper

Bradman’s average without Jardine’s Bodyline series would be well over 100, in fact, it would be 104.76 instead of 99.94. aranyakas2

On the third night, Sadhu seemed to pluck out strings of numbers from thin air. But I trusted his memory. He narrated:

He was a talented athlete and a musician, no doubt. Some wrote about his fielding prowess, and others about Bradman as a bowler. However, if you go a layer deeper you would have heard about him as a wicketkeeper.

In Janaury 1938 he kept wickets after a Charlie Walker was injured for Australia. Bradman would stump O’Reilly in the first innings and take three catches in the second innings, a match which New South Wales would go on to win.

I am not making this up. Said the sadhu. You can check the fact. As for fabrication of cricket, I will keep you guessing till tomorrow!


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