Effects::Big Six cricket dispute of 1912


Board::cricket    Players::england    Cricket::would    Haigh::category    Robinson::dispute    Telegram::control

Effects Matters came to a head when Clem Hill, the Australian captain and member of the Big Six sent a telegram to fellow selector, Peter McAlister, urging the inclusion of the New South Wales all-rounder Charlie Macartney in the team for the Fourth Test in Melbourne.<ref name="Telegram"/> The reply from McAlister – a member of the Board of Control to Hill's request was "...Still opposed to Macartney's inclusion. If Iredale (another selector) agrees with you as to Macartney's inclusion, I favour yourself standing down not Minnett."<ref name="Telegram"/> At a meeting held after the Test, the Board of Control rejected the players' petition and declared that the manager would be appointed by the Board alone. At a "special meeting" two weeks later, the Board appointed George Crouch from Queensland to the position.<ref name="Telegram"/>

The following day, 3 February 1912, the selection committee met in Sydney to decide the team for the Fourth Test. It was the first time Hill and McAlister had met since the exchange of telegrams. The pair exchanged insults with McAlister sharply criticising Hill's captaincy. Hill retorted, "In England, Armstrong wouldn't play under you. Did you ever win any except second rate games?"<ref name="Robinson">Robinson, pp. 116–126.</ref>

McAlister replied, "I am a better captain than Trumper, Armstrong and yourself put together. You are the worst captain I have ever seen,"<ref name="Robinson"/> Hill then warned McAlister to stop insulting him, McAlister repeated the remark. Losing control, Hill struck McAlister a blow across the face. The two then grappled for around ten minutes.<ref name="Robinson"/> Blood was drawn, staining their clothes and splashing on the other men present, Iredale and secretary Sydney Smith. At one stage, fearing that one or both combatants would fall through the window and onto the street, Smith grabbed hold of Hill's coat-tails. The fight ended with a bloody McAlister lying on the floor and Hill, unmarked standing over him. Hill told Smith he could no longer work with McAlister and was asked to put his resignation in writing; the Board accepted it that evening.<ref name="Robinson"/>

When the Board announced that George Crouch would be manager of the Australian team for 1912 Triangular Tournament in England, rather than Frank Laver, outright rebellion ensued. Armstrong, Hill, Trumper, Carter, Cotter and Ransford announced that they would be unavailable to join the touring party. The team, under the captaincy of Syd Gregory, left without these players.<ref>Pollard, p. 183.</ref> The tour was not a success on any front: the Australians winning only eight games and losing nine in a wet season and Crouch on return to Australia reported to the Board that "some of the players had conducted themselves so badly in England as to lead to the team being socially ostracised."<ref name="Wisden1913">{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> Nevertheless, as Gideon Haigh has written, "the deed was done: a national governing body and a species of democracy had been imposed on Australian cricket, although at the cost of reducing its players to serfdom."<ref>Haigh 2004.</ref>

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