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Curry Kirkpatrick
September 02, 1968
When the celebrated Marylebone Cricket Club came to New York the busiest buff around was a bustling, bouncy Englishman who is the sport's self-ordained ambassador and its resident expert
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September 02, 1968

In Full Cry With Peckover

When the celebrated Marylebone Cricket Club came to New York the busiest buff around was a bustling, bouncy Englishman who is the sport's self-ordained ambassador and its resident expert

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The day was the warmest of the weekend. Peckover sat in the shade on his lawn chair, talking to Gerald Butterfield, an elderly gentleman who was wearing a straw hat and a mocha suit. Butterfield, it was said, had played many fine years on the national team of Bermuda and once took the wicket of the great Australian, C. G. Macartney.

Hugh Silk, brother of the MCC captain and a transplanted Londoner who is at present the assistant to the headmaster of a preparatory school in Manhattan, was sitting in the sun with some American friends. An amiable type, he was explaining the game to them and saying that well, now, the MCC was doing remarkably well, considering the conditions. It seems that the MCC had taken "a bit of guff" from the crowd the day before. They had been told that today's match would be their roughest of the tour, for the West Indian team was very good. Hugh Silk said he thought the MCC boys were quite up for this particular match.

They seemed to be. Though plagued by the high grass, the MCC was scoring well until two batsmen made outs within five minutes of each other. "Oh, oh. Headline: ' England in danger,' " said Hugh Silk. He then explained that such headlines in British newspapers occasionally upset visiting Americans. They would see ENGLAND IN DANGER in the papers and wonder what new international crisis had arisen, when what really had happened was that England had given up seven wickets to Australia.

The MCC finished its bats, scoring 140 runs, its lowest total of the tour. But the long grass, more than the opposition bowling, was responsible for this. Surprisingly, the West Indian team was practically helpless against the MCC bowlers, especially when they faced the deliveries of Alan Moss. They went out rather quickly, scoring only 53 runs.

At a farewell dinner for the British team that night, Captain Silk explained the success of Moss. "He brought something out of the bag today," the captain said. "Alan is an England bowler and he bowled like an England bowler." This seemed to satisfy everyone, and wine glasses were raised all around as the American toastmaster announced: "To the Queen." Captain Silk responded: "Let me return the favor. Sir, to the President."

Throughout the festivities, Peckover's head kept bobbing up and down, out and away, over everybody, swooping like a seagull upon the fish, as he conversed with one and all. He was not seen all the time, but he was heard.

Later the West Indians honored the boys from the MCC with a dance and party in Harlem at the Renaissance Ballroom. As the distinguished British cricketers danced out their tour to the cucarachas of Cougie's Orchestra, one remembered what Dan Piachaud, a young team member whom the MCC roster described as "a splendid fielder and useful bat," had said earlier in the evening.

He was talking about his many travels, the cities and lands he had visited and what made them good or bad.

"Most cities are not really very different," Dan had said. "It is all elementary, anyway. We have a room here. A large room, with maybe 60 people inside. And we are in this city. But take any room. Anywhere. A small room with two or three in it. Very small, you know? But if it is a good evening, if you are having a good time, if the people are good—ah, yes, if the people in the room are good—then, it is a good city."

That evening, as the English say it so well, "the standard of wit was high." Dan Piachaud was right, and Edmund Peckover was right. Cricket is a good game.

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