Arthur Carr was a good enough cricketer to captain England and led Nottinghamshire to the County Championship in 1929. And as we have found from reading the excellent biography of Harold Larwood by Duncan Hamilton, Carr was quite a character:
“(Carr was) essentially a rakish but entirely lovable and charming rogue – a toffish jack-the-lad who gave the impression of being one of those slightly disreputable characters with his elbow on the drawing room mantelpiece, always a dry martini close by, in a Noël Coward play.”
How could you not want to find out more after a tribute like that?
Thought so. As a batsman, Carr was a talented and forceful front foot player who accumulated over 21,000 first-class runs and hit 45 hundreds. He played 11 Tests and captained England on several occasions, including for the first four tests of the 1926 Ashes series before being controversially replaced by Percy Chapman for the series decider at The Oval.
Carr has also been credited for devising with Douglas Jardine the 'fast leg theory' strategy to combat Bradman in the infamous Bodyline series of 1932/33. Indeed, under Carr's direction, Bill Voce and Larwood employed - and perfected - the method in English county cricket during 1932, before sailing out to Australia.
As a leader Carrwas a shrewd and considerate captain who played to win. He morphed Notts into a formidable unit and his clever management of Larwood and Voce (which basically involved giving them an endless supply of ale) ensured his reign was a successful one. Indeed, during the sixteen years of his captaincy, Nottinghamshire won the Championship for only the second time since 1886, were nine times in the first four and never held a double-figure position
But Carr is mainly a Reverse Sweep hero for the many wonderful anecdotes attributed to him – most of which involved significant amounts of alcohol.
Our favourite comes from 1921, when after a particularly poor trot with the bat, Carr decided to get heinously drunk the night before Notts were due to play Essex at Leyton. Despite a gargantuan hangover and double vision, Carr managed to drag himself to the ground and promptly reasoned "what you want is a hair of the dog that bit you - that's your only help". He promptly went to the pavillion bar and downed three whisky and sodas in quick succession and then went and made a double hundred and "saw the ball perfectly".
Another one we enjoyed was Carr's reaction to receiving his call-up papers for World War I whilst batting against Surrey at The Oval. Carr, in a manner not too unlike Sir Francis Drake when hearing of the imminent arrival of the Spanish Armada, calmly asserted that "I'll have my innings first".
This calmness in the face of adversity saved Carr's bacon on more than one occasion such as when he was stopped at the wheel by the police after a long bender and asked to recite "sister Susie's sewing shirts for soldier" to check if he was inebriated. "Damn it", said Carr "I can't say that when I am stone cold sober".
What a shame they don't make our cricket heroes like Arthur Carr anymore.