Frank William Boreham 1871-1959

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

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Boreham on Coincidence (5)

This is the fifth in a series by F W Boreham from his essay The Long Arm of Coincidence, soon to be included in the forthcoming book, The Best Essays of F W Boreham.

With a number of cricket companions I was one Saturday afternoon watching the final football match of the winter. It was being played on the Melbourne Cricket Ground; but we ourselves were far less interested in the play that we were watching than in the Test Match that, in a few hours' time, was to be played at the Kennington Oval. It was the match on which the Ashes depended, and we were eagerly anticipating the ball-to-ball description to which we would be listening in the evening. During the half-time interval in the football, somebody suggested that, on the assumption that Australia batted first, we should each attempt to forecast the score at the close of the first day's play. A paper was passed round: each of us was to state a figure and initial it.

When the document fell into my hands, I noticed that the estimates of my predecessors ranged from 250 to 350 runs. I was just setting myself to frame some kind of conjecture when the absurdity of the whole thing broke upon me. We had no idea as to what the wicket was like, or the weather, or any of the conditions on which scoring depended. So, in the same impish and irresponsible mood in which I had feigned to count the sheep, I scribbled 475 and passed the paper on.

`Four hundred and seventy-five!' cried the man who had set us the grotesquely impossible task; `why, if Australia has four hundred and seventy-five runs on the board at the end of the first day's play, you'll be so excited that you'll announce hymn No. 475 instead of the proper hymn when you enter the pulpit tomorrow morning!'

To my sober judgement the figure seemed as fantastic as it did to his. But, believe it or not, 475 was the Australian score when stumps were drawn that night at the Oval; and, when I entered the vestry at Footscray next morning and the hymn list was handed to me, I discovered that the service was to commence with Glorious things of thee are spoken-No. 475!

(To be continued)

Source: F W Boreham, ‘The Long Arm of Coincidence’, I Forgot to Say (London: The Epworth Press, 1939), 87-96.

Image: Kennington Oval, where the runs were scored.