“Long slip” is an outdated cricket term that, essentially, equates to short third man in modern cricketing field placements. In a sport with so many unique, and often confusing, terms, long slip is one that has been left with the “bumpers” and “bosies”.
From May 1901 to February 1916, New Zealand’s premier cricket columnist went by the pseudonym, Long Slip. Opinionated and outspoken, Long Slip‘s columns covered club, domestic, national and international cricket. Writing largely for the Otago Witness and Otago Daily Times, Long Slip gave readers an insight into cricket that few journalists have been able to match since.
Long Slip‘s predecessor at the Otago Witness was known simply as Slip. Slip‘s columns appeared in the Otago Witness from 1882 through to 1901 when Long Slip started to write.
While we know that James Hutchison was the Witness’ Slip, and we know that he would become the Daily Times’ editor in 1909, the dates don’t quite match up for Hutchison to be Long Slip, at least not initially. For example, Long Slip was reporting in the Witness in 1905, when Hutchison was known to be working at the Daily Times.
There are few clues to Long Slip‘s identity; they were well-read with access to the latest publications, called New Zealand Cricket Council secretary F.C. “Tim” Raphael a close friend, and appear to have taken a break between 1909 and late 1913, where one article turns up under that name in the Timaru Herald before they become an Otago Daily Times regular again. While it’s possible that many writers could have published under the Long Slip name, the style and tone remains consistent throughout the years.
In 1915 and 1916, Notes By Long Slip, usually a weekly column, became less regular. Only one column appeared in winter 1915 and the three columns that ended Long Slip‘s run in early 1916 were all focused on Christchurch and Wellington cricket – in spite of a long history of focusing on the intimate details of Dunedin cricket and the column running in the Otago Daily Times.
With the end of Long Slip‘s column coinciding with the break in cricket due to World War One, it brings up some questions. Could the shift to Wellington stories indicate Long Slip joined thousands of other New Zealanders at Trentham or Featherston Military Camps? Does the column’s end have a sadder meaning in the context of the Great War?
So far, we’ve got more questions than answers. Have you got the key to Long Slip‘s identity?
Long Slip wasn’t alone in using a sporting pseudonym for their articles. In fact, Long Slip‘s sporting colleagues sound like an unlikely band of superheroes, using names like Free Wheel (cycling), Side Stroke (swimming) Deadbeat (racing), White Wings (yachting) and Full Back (rugby). In the 1920s, years after Long Slip had stopped reporting, cricketing pseudonyms returned to the local paper when Not Out began reporting on the sport for the Hutt News and Evening Post.