11th June 1953. ‘Sham-amateurism’.
C.B.Fry ‘Gentleman Corinthian’ who left Oxford with a triple blue played for England at both soccer and cricket, was an amateur member of Southampton’s team which lost to Sheffield United in the 1902 Cup Final and also set a world record for the long jump.
Fry the epitome of ‘gentleman’ amateurism considered that ‘partisanship had dulled the idea of sport and warped its moral sense’.
However Fry lived at a time when ‘sham-amateurism’ in cricket meant that amateurs received payment through generous expenses, so there was always an element of hypocrisy and snobbery involved.(1)
Post war with changing social attitudes professionalism gradually made headway and demonstrated Today in 1953 on the first day of the Test against Australia, when Len Hutton became the first professional cricketer to captain England in the 20thc.
Hutton, at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, assisted by such names as Dennis Compton, Truman, Lock, Bailey and Laker was to go on to regain the Ashes, the first time since 1933.(2)
In 1954 he was the first ‘pro’ to captain a team to Australia, before which only ‘Gentlemen’ (amateurs), addressed as Mister, as opposed to surnames for the ‘pros’, were captains.
This great divide was a feature of the annual games between ‘Gentlemen and Players’, since 1806 where amateurs were represented by the likes of Lord Hawke, who despite little talent captained Yorkshire for 27 years.
He told the Manchester Guardian, ‘amateurs are to my mind the moral backbone of the county sides’, an attitude seen when even the great Sydney Barnes was about to leave home to play for Warwickshire, received a telegram, ‘Do not come, amateur playing’.
However the Hon R.H. Lyttelton, poet, politician and right-hand bat revealed all in Country Life (1903): ‘The winning of matches being the golden key to financial prosperity’, he said, ‘the Committee have been driven to adopt a system of paying amateurs money and what, thirty years ago, was done in one or two instances, is now a matter of universal practice’.
By 1962 ‘Gentlemen v Players’ was deemed anachronistic and the final match, the 137th, was played at Lords, not surprisingly with growing resentment.
The England Manager Freddie Brown, according to Yorkshire’s ‘Fiery’ Fred Truman treated them as second class, ordering that the ‘Pros’ only drank beer on Saturday night. He later recalled that when an Amateur addressed him as Truman he replied, ‘his mother had taken a lot of time to select a name for him and in future to either call him Fred or Mr’.
It was snobbery previously expressed in the professionals travelling 2nd class, having separate hotels and entrances to the grounds.
Even the humorous writer P. G. Wodehouse deplored the loss of cricket’s amateur status and objected to Hutton’s appointment as England’s captain in 1953, remarking: ‘Surely he will be a total loss on the social, speech-making side’ and regretted that, ‘charm or sporting prowess alone no longer guaranteed a place at Oxford or Cambridge’.
(1) Football being mainly working-class from the beginning was always professional, though there were many amateur sides, such as Old Etonians also.
(2) Hutton was knighted three years later; Jack Hobbs was the first to be honoured.
Ref: Cricket Players. Leo McKintry.2012.