Given that the mag is free in Waitrose (PR Dept. feel free to get in touch and offer me those nice free coffees which seem to have vanished into thin air btw), have a read.
It takes a Pandemic to start nitpicking apart the Pensioners’ favourite Daytime TV programme, Pointless. But here goes. Amongst other things, Jonathan Agnew writes of his broken heart at hearing Alistair Cook being a Pointless answer. I’m not going to go into the rules of the game, if you don’t already know them, congratulations at taking WFH so seriously you never flick on the Telly. The Question : Name any cricketer who had captained England on six occasions or more. As our Jonathan points out, Sir Alistair captained England a record 59 times. How can this be? How can everyone not love cricket as much as me?
The point here is demographics. I have often thought back to my Geography and Maths classes at school when I hear of people conducting surveys. If you do your fieldwork on High Street Kensington you will get a very different set of 100 people than you would if you took a sample from a more financially deprived part of the UK. I have long thought Pointless should bear this in mind. Mr Armstrong should let his contestants know where the 100 people were captured. Where, Richard Agatha Christie Osman was the survey conducted? Anyway, it is after all Pointless, and it is pointless in me taking any of this too seriously. Pensioners and Cricket are unlikely to save the world from bloody Coronavirus. Or maybe not? Stranger things have happened in the Dover Straits that is for sure.
Aggers mentions that during a ‘Summer’ spent in the bio bubble, pretty envious to be honest – can think few better places to be than being in that bubble, (Vaughan looks quite handy at table tennis, but I still reckon I’d have him), he’s come to realise, money talks more than ever right now.
One does wonder if the Chinese pulling out of the Football Premiership sponsorship was a direct consequence of the Hauwei 5G ‘U’ turn. I can tell you, China can be pretty joined up in its thinking, and if you piss off Uncle Xi, you might only find out from nephew Deng.
Yes, visibility is key. These sportsmen need to be on TV or the connectivity we feel through live events just dies as a result of events not being attended. Looking forward to Mr Agnew’s next column. On the IPL?
After a needed Saturday siesta, a Sichuan nap of sorts, I cycled down to the local village Cricket green to see if there was a game on. To my delight, there was. I propped my bicycle against the picket fencing sectioning off the Croquet court and watched the two in-batsmen stroking it around the field for an over or two, before strolling around a quarter of the boundary.
I struck up conversation with the lad fielding as sweeper, and after gleaning the scores, generously commented that it was close, at the same time thinking if that Bat continues to cream sixes the home side have no chance. Chasing around 210, the opposition stood strong at 160- 5.
Cracks started to show and after a lucky wicket from a full toss, the home side got the bit between their teeth. I was witnessing a come back. Only twenty four hours ago on TV I’d seen the English bowlers outwit the Aussies in the first of the 3 match 20/20 series, surely it couldn’t happen two days running?
There was the usual beautiful village cricket stuff : batsmen colliding with bowlers; a thwack on the kneecap from an effective but ungainly piece of fielding by a portly gentleman at mid off; banter.
Wickets continued to fall. Another dislodging of bails from a full toss. A well held catch at mid off. The home team were in the running. The score was not nudging beyond the 180s and the visiting XI seemed to be throwing away their chances.
I think there was above all a feeling of relief to be out there playing, and I for one was feeling joy at just watching some live cricket. In the end, the home team did it. A glance and a nick down the leg side, with a catch held by the keeper saw an unforeseen (from my book) victory.
Cycling away down the lane I thought how scenic it was, the late Summer / early Autumn evening sun streaming through the leaves giving a dappled lighting, highlighting the flying insects.
Playing the game and watching the game is in my blood, and Corona Virus has meant very little of both over the Summer of 2020. So where have I got my fix? In the most random of places.
The most enjoyable game was a game of beach cricket during the heatwave about a month ago. I love beach cricket. Young and old unite and there’s always the sea to admire. During a weekend visit to Bath recently it was very relaxing sitting in comfy leather chairs, sheltered from the cool breeze by floor to ceiling glass looking out on the square and watching a batsman from Bristol bring up his 100 by driving a six out the ground over long on.
Aside from these instances, I have enjoyed watching and listening to the England team play both the West Indies and Pakistan. The Rose Bowl and Old Trafford have stood up and accommodated the necessary bubbles. As Agnew mentioned, it would have been superb for James Anderson to have the crowd urging him on to 600, but hey, at least he got there. It really does seem like only yesterday that he was passing Sir Ian’s total of 383. There you go, time, like the tide, waits for no man.
There has not been much. A few months ago it was announced the England team would not be touring Sri Lanka. Three West Indies players pulled out of the tour to England, which is to be played to empty arenas.
The IPL simply has not happened.
When you see the likes of Ben Stokes placing Energy Drinks at the forefront of the image for social media clips, you know times are tight.
The flip side of all this is my MCC Associate Membership has come through, twelve years after filling out the application form.
When the Cape Town Test was moved from Boxing Day to the New Year I was pretty gutted as I was hoping to go, and the teacher holiday would have allowed for the Boxing Day Test but not one starting on the 3rd. As things turned out I was to return to England for another hernia operation anyway, so it was all academic.
When Test Matches go to the full five five days, and especially deep in to the last session, it is a treat. I left school after a pretty good workshop (to be fair) on Dyslexia, and drove the Toyota Colorado up to the local bar Smileys. I need to reboot my DSTV (Sky) subscription but that requires jumping on the back of a ‘boda’ (motorcycle taxi), scooting into town, queuing, and paying money to kick start another month or so. The lazy and time saving option was to just drive to the bar.
It was 4 months ago, and in the same place that I watched Ben Stokes keep the Ashes alive at Headingley. This time it was his bowling at the death that won through. For a few minutes I believed he might just do it with a hat-trick. It was a superb team effort, and I’m sad I missed watching us beat the Saffers at Cape Town for the first time since 1957, but at least the hernia operation is over with.
Two years running now – the first day of the Lord’s Test – an entire washout. What a shame. Of the first three days, there were only four sessions played. So we listened to the Jazz band and people-watched.
Day two was a cracker with England sneaking 258 thanks largely to Burns and Bairstow posting 50s. At 8-1 odds with the in-ground bookies for highest scorer I fancied Bairstow, but he fell 1 short of Burns, caught in the deep. Ex paceman Mitchell Johnson was happy to report on the radio that he reckoned the Aussies would be at 30-1 at the start of Day 3. Bang on.
Ruth Strauss Foundation Day was a great success with the ground a sea of red. Somewhere in the region of a quarter of a million pounds was donated on the day.
By the time we’d got to Day 4 (Saturday), the Aussies were sitting nervously on 80-4. But you guessed it, they dug their way out of trouble to land within eight runs of our total. A lot has been written about Steve Smith and Jofra Archer, suffice to say that there was an eerie silence as Smith fell to the ground. It was a moment I’ll never forget.
Joe Root’s Golden duck was not a Champagne moment, and Jason Roy’s continued failure is a huge concern. The only good thing about England’s start to Day 5 was Stokes and Buttler were at the crease. After another miserable downpour, the sun shone.
And our man Ben Stokes scored a ton. What a hero!
Under the watchful eye of Father Time, Time was always going to have the last word. The Press published photos of fielders all crowded round the Aussie Batsmen who clung on to a draw. It was a superb test match, and it’s why we keep coming back. On the walk back to Maida Vale tube the Heavens opened once again to unleash an almighty downpour. And so to Headingley.