Leading Article: Leg over wicket

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The Independent Online
NEWSPAPER readers would have come across an intriguing sentence last week. It concerned Graham Gooch, the captain of England's cricket team, and the sad news that he had separated from his wife on the eve of the team's departure for their tour of India. The break-up was a surprise, we were told, because 'his 16-year marriage has been regarded as one of the strongest in the game'.

There is something very strange about this thought, with its implication that somebody somewhere compiles league tables of cricketing marriages; a secret chapter in Wisden, printed in code, where the married lives of cricketing folk are chronicled. Forget the highest score compiled by an opening partnership at Trent Bridge; read instead about F Stokeley-Ffarington who played only twice as a first-change bowler for Glamorgan but lived happily with his wife Doris for 70 years without once committing adultery. Ignore Jim Laker's record 19 wickets against the Australians at Old Trafford in 1956; concentrate instead on that dreadful wicket-keeper T F Winker's multiple successes against women (mainly called Gloria) and all, apart from the final marriage-wrecking one, in the profoundest ignorance of Mrs Winker.

But this secret chapter, when it turns to tours of India and Pakistan, yields nothing. The scores have yet to be opened. Faridabad, Bangalore, even Bombay and Calcutta, are not the places where what the awful Winker referred to as 'a tumble in the slips' can be easily enjoyed. The stricter social mores may be the real reason behind their alleged unpopularity with touring sides, rather than the famous 'stomach upsets'. So there is no reason why G Boycott should not have been perfectly happy there. His appearance in the coded lists is always that of the 12th man who was never asked to take the field of play.

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