Ronald Reagan and his love of cricket

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The Independent Online

I have been surprised by the volume of letters I have received in praise of the late Ronald Reagan, one-time president of the United States, and in his honour I would like to publish a few of them today.

I have been surprised by the volume of letters I have received in praise of the late Ronald Reagan, one-time president of the United States, and in his honour I would like to publish a few of them today.

From Sir George "Gubby" Trotter:

Sir, In all the long eulogies of the late Ronald Reagan, I have seen no mention of one of his most abiding characteristics, and that was his life-long love of cricket.

I realise that it may seem unlikely that a top American actor and politician should even know about the English national game, let alone be addicted to it, but as he once said to me: "Gubby, where do they think I acquired my imperturbable nature from? From American football? I do not think so. From baseball? Unlikely. No, it is the long hours that I have spent watching cricket games, pretending an interest in the proceedings, that enabled me to survive my meetings with Gorbachev and other Russian leaders whose names now escape me."

Those familiar with Reagan's early history will know that his first job was as a radio sports commentator, which he might have stayed all his life but for a chance film audition, undertaken as a dare. He got the part, became an actor and moved to Hollywood. There, he encountered the British actors' colony with their tradition of cricket matches, and was excited by the sight of a game on which he could not commentate. Errol Flynn took him under his wing, and the rest is history, even if unknown history.

Yours etc.

From Gloria D'Arcy Wethers:

Sir, As an erstwhile starlet in the Hollywood film system, I can vouch for the above. I knew Ronald at a time when he worked as an actor, and he once said to me: "Gloria, where do people think I acquired my immutable acting style? That acting style of which it has truly been said that, watching me on the screen, you are never quite sure if I am acting or still waiting for the camera to roll? Why, I acquired it from watching British cricketers in action! Cricket is the only sport in the world where any kind of emotional reaction is frowned upon. Indeed, even frowning is frowned upon. All American sport is a kind of controlled frenzy. Cricket is Buddhism made visible. Though don't get the impression I am for Buddhism. It's probably only a front for Communism."

Yours etc.

From Harvey Watchsmith:

Sir, As an erstwhile adviser to Ronald Reagan while governing California, I can vouch for the above.

Mr Reagan was always alive to the threat from Communism. He also once said to me that the most dangerous thing in the world, after Communism, was a rising ball outside the off-stump. When I looked baffled, he said: "All you have to know, Harvey, is that no Communist has ever played cricket. The Reds play football, love athletics, and are good at chess, but they're frightened of cricket. That's why I love the game."

Yours etc.

From Arnold Wachter:

Sir, As one of Mr Reagan's top aides during his glory years, I can vouch for the above. Mr Reagan was sometimes portrayed by his opponents as an amiable simpleton, but I think much of this was due to his use of cricketing imagery which none of us could understand. This, of course, is why he took to Mrs Thatcher. She loved his aura of power; he loved the chance of having an ally who understood cricketing analogies. What Reagan never realised to his dying day was that Thatcher knew nothing about cricket and usually had no idea what he was talking about.

I remember once he said to her, about Castro, that the wily Cuban leader was easy to contain, "as long as you kept an eye open for his occasional Chinaman". For years afterwards, Maggie kept badgering Intelligence to find out about Castro's secret Chinese connection.

Yours etc.

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