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A look through history books after Toby gave Proteas both barrels.

Byline: Chris Game

THE recent England-South Africa Test Match at The Oval was a cricketing stats-fest, with Middlesex quick bowler Toby Roland-Jones contributing more than his share. This column suggests, though, that R-J's most celebrated feat was not statistically the most remarkable.

His rightly proclaimed achievement was taking five wickets in an innings in his first Test Match, and thereby effectively shaping the whole game. Exceptional, certainly, but statistically not that rare.

Indeed, it had been done by two bowlers playing in this very match - England's James Anderson and South Africa's Vernon Philander.

To me, therefore, the stellar R-J fact was his reportedly being the first English cricketer with a double-barrelled or hyphenated surname to take even one Test Match wicket for well over 100 years.

It sounded incredible, but was it? Either way, I was as excited as I guess you are. Partly because I actually touched on issues related to cricketers' nominal hyphenatedness in a Post column back in January, when my concern was the disappointing under-representation of West Midlands players in England international cricket teams.

The presence of Birminghamborn Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali in England's current squad is very much the exception. Generally, I suggested, our region's players are disadvantaged by modern English cricket's narrow, exclusionary selection processes - described by cricket writer Matthew Engel as "three well-trodden routes into the national team: through independent schools, existing cricketing families, and, all too often, South Africa."

The Oval team included, by my reckoning, five players from independent/public schools (including R-J) - down from eight just two years ago - five from prominent cricketing families, and two South Africans. Plus the one hyphen.

In today's world, hyphenated surnames can signify almost anything. But traditionally they've been overwhelmingly about inheritance, the preservation of family wealth and estates, general upper-classness, and therefore the greatly enhanced likelihood of sons attending cricket-playing public schools.

So, could it really be that in 107 years not one of the surely hundreds of these hyphenated posh boys had proved good enough to make the England XI and take an actual wicket? Well, asserts the cliche, it depends what you mean by hyphenated. For over 30 years I've lived and worked on what is or was the huge Edgbaston Calthorpe - or Anstruther-Gough-Calthorpe family - Estate, one early 20th Century branch of which was The Hon. Frederick Somerset Gough-Calthorpe.

A good public school, Cambridge University and county cricketer, he captained Warwickshire throughout the 1920s - but seemingly insisted on being known as 'Freddie' and with no hyphenation. Likewise, when he captained England to the West Indies - and took a Test Match wicket some 88 years before the unashamedly hyphenated Roland-Jones.

Chris Game is a lecturer at the Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham


<B Toby Roland-Jones in wicket-taking action for England against South Africa

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Title Annotation:Letters
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:6SOUT
Date:Aug 3, 2017
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