08 February, 2013

Leave Pass


LEAVE PASS-8th December,1954
As a 13 year old boarder at Canberra Grammar School, I was already"hooked" on the game of cricket. Thus, it is no surprise that I got "leave" to attend the match between the Prime Minister's Eleven and the touring Englishmen (who in those days played as the "M.C.C."), at Manuka Oval.

The attached very faded Leave Pass on Canberra Grammar School letterhead reads-
           
“8th. December,1954
Boyd has leave to go to cricket. Due back 5:30PM.
(sgd) Ron Morris”

I have crossed out the Rev. Morris' (Housemaster) signature and it has been replaced by “Keith R Miller”-the great Australian all-rounder-and “Robert G Menzies”-the cricket mad, great Australian Prime Minister!

On the back of the Leave Pass I have written, with some very strange spelling, the MCC batting scores. Note the quality of the team, Hutton, Edrich, May, Graveney, Cowdrey, Evans, Wardle.

At the Lunch interval my hero Keith Miller had been fielding on the fence near where I was sitting. I jumped the fence and went towards him to get his signature. One of the other players called out "look out Keith" and he jokingly ran off. In school uniform, replete with short pants, I took off after him. I chased him across the pitch to theother side of the field. There he stopped and said "seeing you've run so far I better give it to you", with which he signed my only  piece
of paper-the Leave Pass.

A short time later, along with a school mate-Noel Hickman-I was walking behind the then modest pavilion and saw "Bob" Menzies returning from the "Men's". I said to Noel "I should get his signature too." “Go on" he urged. I politely asked- "May I have your signature please, Sir"? Menzies, somewhat taken back, replied "you little horror"and proceeded to sign. He, good naturedly, complained about how difficult it was to write with nothing to support the paper.

Fifty eight years later, on Wednesday, 6th February, 2013 the first time an Australian team had played at Canberra, there was a One Day International (ODI) at the same Manuka Oval against the West Indies. Octogenarian TV commentator, Richie Benaud, referred to the 1954 game saying that it was the first time a match was played against a "Prime Minister's Eleven" in
Australia. He described it as a "charity match". One of his fellow commentators advised that Richie scored a century. It was this exchange that prompted me to dig out the Leave Pass and record this background to the faded document.

David Boyd
6th February,2013
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