Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

Frank William Boreham 1871-1959
A photo F W Boreham took of himself in 1911

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Boreham on Cricket

F W Boreham practiced his theme of 'making time for himself' through his passion for cricket. His wife is quoted in Who’s Who In Australia as saying that “if the house was on fire [her husband] would leave it to burn if there happened to be a cricket match in progress within twenty miles.”[1] His father was a cricket official who organized first class matches in Tunbridge Wells and the county of Kent and must have been responsible for introducing his son to the delights of the game.[2]

F W Boreham must be one of the few people who have shaken hands with W G Grace and dined with Sir Donald Bradman. I wrote to Sir Donald to ask him about this encounter but he gave a courteous reply saying he did not remember the man! Boreham played cricket on the green at Tunbridge Wells. He later was President of the Cricket Club in Hobart, Tasmania.

Boreham devoted so much time to the game because he loved it, he forgot everything apart from the runs and the cricket and he found it a great way to form friends outside the circles in which he normally moved.

Amid the busyness of his ministry in Tasmania Boreham wrote, “There is something wonderfully restful to the eye and strangely soothing to the mind about the very environs of a first class match.”[3] He also marveled at the game itself saying, “The glorious uncertainty of cricket is universally regarded as the greatest charm of the game.”[4] When, as an older man he found it hard to sleep, instead of counting sheep, he counted runs and with his brilliant memory he could replay entire cricket matches in his mind.[5]

There are many wonderful cricketing stories in his books (including an essay of The Middle Wicket),[6] but the cricketing story I like most is this one:

Watching the footy final at the MCG (he sat under the clock in the old Member’s Stand) Boreham and his cricketing friends were speculating at halftime about who would win the Test match in England that would decide the Ashes. Boreham did not say whether any money was put on it but they all wrote down what they thought Australia would make if the Aussies were batting first.

Boreham noted that one of his friends wrote down 250 runs and all the others wrote different scores up to 350. It was all so absurd because they had no idea about the state of the wicket or the outlook for the weather, but in an impish mood Boreham scribbled 475 and passed the paper on.

"475!" said his friend, who then said, "If Australia gets 475 on the board tonight you will be so excited that tomorrow when you enter the pulpit you will announce 475 instead of the proper hymn." Believe it or not, when stumps were drawn that night at the Kensington Oval Australia had made 475!

When on the next morning Boreham turned up to preach at the Paisley St Church at Footscray he was handed the order of service and on it was the opening hymn – ‘Glorious things of thee are spoken!’ No. 475!

Boreham does not try and explain this coincidence but he gets a sermon out of it and says: "If in the ordinary things of life we confront things that are incredible, we should not be surprised that in matters of the faith we sometimes find ourselves out of our depth."[7]

Geoff Pound

Image: Boreham (top left) with his cricket team in Hobart.

[1] F W Boreham, The Drums of Dawn, 168.
[2] F W Boreham, Faces in the Fire, 26.
[3] F W Boreham, Luggage of Life, 89.
[4] F W Boreham, The Passing of John Broadbanks, 22.
[5] F W Boreham, Wisps of Wildfire, 241.
[6] F W Boreham, Nests of Spears, 160.
[7] F W Boreham, I Forgot to Say, 90.