Friday, 16 December 2011

Middle name games

Douglas cricketer
Fantasy Bob was thinking of middle names today. He himself only has one and he has always envied friends who had a whole alphabet of initials to declaim. Two middle names was something, but God Bless the child with 3 middle names. These were people of destiny.

One hundred years ago to the day, MCC, as they then were styled, were led onto the Sydney Cricket Ground by JWHT Douglas in the second day of the first test of the Ashes series. England lost that match by 146 runs but went on to win the series by 4-1. It was probably the efforts of the bowlers, primarily SF Barnes and FR Foster (only one middle name each) who between them took 66 wickets in the series, which was the difference between the sides. England's batting was dominated by Jack Hobbs (one middle name) and Wilfred Rhodes (no middle name) who shared an opening stand of 147 in the third Test at Adelaide. They exceeded this with 323 at Melbourne in the next Test, which remains the record for England's first wicket against Australia. England had depth in their batting - Frank Woolley (only one middle name) came in at 8.

Douglas - boxer
JWHT - Johnny - was actually a stand in skipper - the appointed skipper Plum Warner (one middle name) fell seriously ill at the start of the tour and was not able to play. Johnny was out first ball in the first innings of the first test. Oops.  But he took 4 wickets in the second innings before scoring 32 off 132 balls in the second innings. So obdurate and painstaking was JWHT's batting that the crowd called him Johnny Won't Hit it Today Douglas.  The name stuck. But Douglas was a handy all rounder and he could hit it - his top first class score was 210* for Essex against Derbyshire in 1921 part of a tremendous all round performance - he also took 11-40 in the match.  Johnny Douglas played 23 Tests, 18 of which he skippered, his career was interrupted by the First World War.

He has the unique distinction not only of having skippered England at cricket but also having been Olympic middleweight boxing champion. (Johnny Will Hit You Today).  His family was prominent in the Amateur Boxing establishment and his younger brother became a leading referee in the professional sport in the 1930s.

Johnny Won't Hit it Today puts Fantasy Bob in mind of another sportsman with multiple initials.  For many years in the 1970s the leading amateur golfer in Britain was RDBM Shade - known as Right Down the Bloody Middle Shade, for self evident reasons.
Right Down the Bloody Middle

But these days it is the Sri Lankans who put everyone into the middle name shade.  Several of their current squad have 3 middle names, Herath Herath has 4 (but maybe they don't all count for his christian name and surname are the same) but the all time record is left arm seamer - U W M B C A Welegedara.  Five middle names - a man of destiny.  Fantasy Bob understands there to be no truth in the rumour that the Sri Lankan cricket authorities are offering a prize for the best nick name using his initials. But don't let that stop you trying.

Yes - I've got 5 middle names!


  1. Just to let you know that JWHT Douglas has played at Grange Loan. There is a fine photograph of him in the club records striding out of the original pavilion for the coin toss.