At Harrow, Edward Bowen was one of the first members of the teaching community to be passionately involved in sports and games including cricket    Getty Images (representational image)
At Harrow, Edward Bowen was one of the first members of the teaching community to be passionately involved in sports and games including cricket Getty Images (representational image)

Edward Bowen, born March 30, 1836, was a beloved schoolmaster at Harrow and a fanatical follower of cricket. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the day when he set a paper on cricket for his students.

Edward Ernest Bowen. A fascinating man. Schoolmaster at Harrow who wrote lyrics linked to school life, sports and games, and authored the famed school song of that reputed institute: Forty Years On. That song is still sung today.

Born in 1836, Bowen joined the Harrow teaching staff in 1859, after graduating from Trinity College, Cambridge and spending a short stint as assistant master at Marlborough College. And he remained a schoolteacher at Harrow until his death in 1901.

He was an active man. As an undergraduate at Cambridge he walked from the University to Oxford in 26 hours, a distance of 90 miles. And at Harrow, he was one of the first members of the teaching community to be passionately involved in sports and games. He also promoted modern studies, rather than the obsession with Latin and Greek.

Not only that, Bowen played Association Football, representing Wanderers FC in the triumphant FA Cup finals of 1872 and 1873. In fact, he was a major figure in the establishment of the English Football Association.

He also played one First-Class cricket match for Hampshire, against Sussex in 1864. It was not a successful outing, though. Bowen batted No. 11 and was dismissed for a duck in each innings, his stumps disturbed by the rather august name of James Lillywhite Jr on both occasions. He did not bowl, neither did he keep wickets.

His elder brother Charles, on the other hand, was appointed Judge to the High Court of Justice Queen s Bench Division, and then, in 1882, Lord Justice. He, too, played exactly one First-Class match for Hampshire; after falling for a duck in the first innings, he carried his bat in the second.

A housemaster of The Grove boarding house, Bowen once set an examination paper on cricket.

According to him, he would have failed in his duty if any of his pupils went out in the world well-versed in the doctrine of the enclitic De but ignorant of the rules of the MCC, or their possible bearing upon improbable situations.

Two questions from the exam are left to the reader as exercise:

– My partner hits a high catch. I judiciously tread on the bowler s toes, who misses it: then asks the umpire to give me out for doing so. Does he?

– If two batsmen walk off simultaneously to have a drink just before over is called, which is out?

Good luck solving these.