Miles Kington: Bowled middle stump by a silent, deadly spinner

I have received many letters of tribute to the late Marcel Marceau, the French king of mime, and it seems a shame not to print a few of them today in honour of his memory...
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From Sir George "Gubby" Trotter

Sir, I am amazed to read all the glowing encomia to the late Marcel Marceau and see not one mention of one of the over-riding passions of his life, namely, his love of the English game of cricket.

I first met Marcel in the early 1950s when he was already well established as a master of the art of silent comedy and tragedy. He was also firmly established as a masterly slow right-arm spinner, as I found to my cost one day in July 1955, when I faced his bowling for the first time.

He ambled up to bowl, brought his right arm over and delivered the ball from his left hand! I never saw it coming. I was bowled middle stump. Yours etc

From Sir Peter Runcibold

Sir, I can vouch for the foregoing. I often encountered dear Marcel in the 1960s, when I was playing for the touring team of ex-ambassadors called "Our Excellencies", and when he was bowling it was always impossible to tell where the ball was going to come from. Some bowlers can do a delivery they call "out of the back of the hand". Marcel had a special which came from behind his back. When he strolled up to bowl, you had no idea even where he was holding the ball. Yours etc

From Mr Roland Bosanquet (no relation)

Sir, You can say that again. When I lived in Paris and played most weeks for an expat team called "Les Hasbeens", Marcel was the star bowler for our chief rivals, a French team called "Ze Old Farts", and he perfected a routine I still remember with awe. He would go back to the end of his run, tossing the ball up and down, then halfway through his run-up he would stop and frantically search his own person. He had lost the ball! He would frenziedly pat himself all over, then, just as the batsman had lost concentration and was probably laughing fit to bust, he would "find" the ball again and whip it down the pitch, usually getting a wicket or something worth appealing for. Yours etc

From M. Michel Dupont

Sir, And what an appeal! So winsome, so heart-rending! And if the umpire said Not Out, how sulky he would go. His lower lip would tremble, his cheeks would pout and veritable tears would form in his eyes.

"Do not forget, mon ami," he once said to me, "that all life is mime. In the street, everyone is miming a walk, at the office everyone is miming the act of work, without thinking about it. Only ask them to do it, and they will find themselves unable to do it properly."

"What has that got to do with cricket?" I said.

He fell silent. His face elongated. His shoulders looked heavy. His cheeks wobbled tragically. I think he was telling me that he had no idea.

From Mr Charles MacKintail

Sir, And yet the finest performance I ever saw him give was after his playing ideas were over, and he became an umpire. One time, he was given rather too many jerseys and sweaters to look after. We first became aware of this when we realised that Marcel had managed to envelop himself in the offending sportsgear and had totally vanished from view! He was just a thrashing mass of white clothes on the ground! It took him an eternity to fight his way clear. It was the funniest yet saddest thing I have ever seen.

From Lord Levantine

Sir, I hate to strike a dissident note, but as a veteran of the French cricket scene, may I say that, in my experience, Marcel Marceau's witless clowning about has ruined more matches than the English weather? His relentlessly egocentric exhibitionism, his unfunny undulations...

Miles Kington writes: I am afraid that is all we have space for today.

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