It’s Alway’s Summer Somewhere – Felix White £9.99 Octopus Books

Ten years ago I was listening to the radio and I was sure I heard the lines, “Latchmere’s got a wave machine”. I wasn’t wrong. Recently I realised the band that sung it were none other than The Maccabees, their name derived from a pointed finger in The Good Book, all very Pink Floyd.

I came fairly late to ‘Tailenders’ but have been making up for lost time since and even made the Pilgrimage to Hammersmith around this time last year to see Isa bowl on stage etc. It was whilst in Warsaw that I first started listening to the Podcast. I just loved the little guitar “chirps” from the get-go.

From growing up in Wandsworth and going to school at Alleyns, there was a lot in this book that I could relate to. Even the University “experience” in Brighton with the recording studio I could well imagine. But head and shoulders above the rest, I empathised whole-heartedly with just being a Cricket Fan. It’s the place in the Heart. It is an unconditional love.

References to Elephant and Castle, Walworth Road, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Clash, Oasis. It’s all there. The devastating loss of his mother at the age of Seventeen; his Dad coming to see him ‘gig’ when he is backing Dylan in Spain; dating Florence from Florence and The Machine; all episodes told with flair.

There are several interviews related with his inimitable charming style, including : Athers ; Nass ; Adam Holliake ; Alec Stewart ; Ashley Giles ; Andy Flower ; Kumar Sangakkara ; Jos Buttler. Of course it culminates with the 2019 World Cup win, well you would wouldn’t you. It’s a beautifully written book. Paced to perfection. Encore!

 

Ed Smith’s ‘On and Off the field’.

I read this purely on a recommendation, and it did not disappoint. As much as anything, for me it was quite nostalgic, a topic which Ed himself is asked to talk about on Radio. I liked Ed’s summation that as a practising sportsman you can’t afford to look to the past.

I well recall 2003 when Ed Smith came to our attentions via our TV screens playing for England. He seemed to have a phenomenal past record of achievement. Who wouldn’t be impressed?

The diary of ES – Aged 26 and three quarters.

Ed Smith is like the Dan Snow of the Cricket world : engaging, insightful, intrepid and a Philosopher.

Reading about his very personal account of the highs and lows of the County season with Kent and three Test matches against South Africa, it made me realise how focused he was to get the job done. There is a constant stream of analysis and self criticism.

I enjoyed reliving those days of nearly 20 years ago. I enjoyed reading how Flintoff was on the cusp of some very special days, Pietersen was knocking about with his spin. There’s the double ton in Blackpool, the pair in Chelmsford. Above all it made me want to visit some of these county grounds. Nasser calls him ‘The Jazzer’. Vaughan comes across well. Most fans remember Alec Stewart’s Swansong.

It must’ve been so tough wrestling with his personal ambitions whilst Thorpe made a comeback ton in Kennington, and the call from Graveney the following day was to the tune of ‘You’re on the bench’. Although he wasn’t on the bench, rather the England ‘A’s, no dinner with Murali in Sri Lanka.

I loved listening to Ed on T.M.S. (perhaps he’ll come back); I thought he always brought up interesting points. His days as selector did not make too much impression, but I did enjoy the fact that he seemed to think he was playing Poker in Las Vegas as he was permanently wearing very dark shades. Boycs used to call him ‘The Wordsmith’.

There are a lot of cricketers out there who play just a handful of matches for their country. One thinks of Agnew to name but one. But what we – or at least I – don’t always appreciate is the road to get there. This book goes some way to reveal those moments.

Ed got 64 on debut for England and not another half century. He was in the middle when Hussein got a ton, and Trescothick 150, he knows what it is like to be in the thick of it. One of the most telling lines in the book is, “Bad timing for bad luck”, upon his final Test dismissal in short diary reply to Vaughan’s verbal comment in the pavilion. I also liked the line about how number threes “learn to feel neutral about timing”, ie. you could be in second ball of the day, or the penultimate.

I enjoyed reading about the fly fishing exploits with Andrew Symmonds, and the camaraderie he has with Rob Key. I almost felt I was there in the Kent changing room.

Great book.

Shane

The documentary covers much that was in the biography which came out a few years ago. Although, film being film, we get to hear a lot from the late Shane’s ex-wife and children. He had a winner’s attitude, talking of how he always felt he could make an impression.

The late great Warne.

As to my mind there is no doubt that cries of “bowling Warney” will continue to echo for decades in school corridors, village nets and back gardens.

We learn of the sacrifices he made to be the best and it’s especially difficult to believe that within 12 months of the interviews he would no longer be here. Make every day count.

Oval and Lords

I made it to a couple of county matches in London last week. Surrey v Essex in SE11 and Middlesex v Sussex at NW8. There were some pretty big names knocking about the Oval : Amla (last time I saw him at the Oval he posted a handy triple century), Burns, Pope, even the currently hot ODI property Reece Topley was strolling about. Will Jacks (not to be confused with the clothing brand) went from 100* to 150* very quickly putting Surrey past Essex’s total. I hung around to watch the great Sir Alistair Cook. He stroked a handy 4 off his legs but was then caught behind. A great day with Harry.

Barefoot on the South London Turf.

The match North of the River was not as close, Sussex having posted 500+ in the first innings. Malan nicked one past the keeper to score a 50, and it was sweet to see Steve Finn bowling. I briefly sat up in one of the new stands.

View towards the Pavilion.

I love going to the MCC library. There are some real nuggets there, and it is time to get reading some decent Cricket Literature again. This particular one has a great title.

India Series Ends 2-2 and 1-1 with Old Trafford to host ‘le belle’ on Sunday.

Sitting down on a sofa in a bar called ‘The Score’ in Chiang Mai with Chris, we ordered some brewskis and watched Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow make the hundred plus runs needed on the morning of the Fifth Day look a breeze. Bravo. Sweet as a macadamia.

Onwards to the ODI series. A total balls-up at the Oval, Jasprit Bumrah causing the damage, but England bowler Rees Topley taking 6-24 at Lords yesterday in the heat made 247 a sufficient total.

It is a good series and India are a great team. The decider in a few days is eagerly anticipated.

Dead Rubber.

“Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead”.

What a formidable two tests we’ve witnessed. Happy as Larry that we knocked off those 61 runs on the morning of the Fourth Day at Lords to ensure a much needed victory there. Sweet debut Mr Potts.

And what is more… you can add a ton to that target, and 5 sessions of play, and we only went and did the same again at Trent Bridge.

Two Fridays-worth of after-work SKY TV viewing down at a boozer called Hemingways (second branch in Pattaya). 8 ball and Arrows at hand. Sweet.

Thankfully TMS (the old faithful) is still teaming up with youtube to offer overseas listeners its nuggets.

Zaltzman claiming Gilbert Jessop fans will be punching the air – the cat is just too amusing.

Looking forward to Headingley.

To India and beyond.

Eve of Lord’s Test

I will miss the Test match as I am working in Thailand. A shame to miss it. No sooner have I become an Associate Member and logistics just make it impossible to attend. From afar, I’m quite excited though. I think the crowds will build throughout the week. I see Brendon McCullum and Ben Stokes working very well together, and Rob Key could open doors. I hope Graham Thorpe is on the road to recovery.

Stuart Broad has been quoted on the BBC website as feeling England need to play attractive / engaging cricket. True. But we also just need to win. One victory in 17 tests in appalling. Sea change on the horizon – fingers crossed.

I approached a cricket team out here, but it’s the closed season, and it sounds like even a Thursday net at ‘The Outback’ (what else?!) might be stretching it. The Chairman said I needed to put Ko Chang in my diary for the end of August for some beach cricket but I’ll be as gone as a wild goose in Winter.

C’mon England.

A net in Dulwich Park

I think possibly the cutest thing I have seen in the past twelve months is a three year old Australian boy dressed in pads and gloves with a little Kookaburra bat playing cricket in a net with his ma. He was quite happy to play act and pretend when there was no tennis ball to be thrown too.

This coupled with the Viking in the next net wearing a yellow and pink (separate) pair of pads made my Saturday morning. Especially as there was some sun. Shame about losing 3-2 to the Windies but could have done with Mo batting in the fifth as he did in the fourth.

The Ashes 21/22

Not so much roaring into the 20s as slinking.

We all love The Ashes but we’ve not won Down Under an awful lot in my lifetime. I turned on my Christmas present of a radio on Boxing Day 1986 to hear that Botham and Small had both taken five apiece. Happy Days. I think the next high point was when I watched KP on TV (C4) tonking it about in 2005. Big gap. Big shame.

There must be people out there who have followed the England team, and chosen 86/87 and 10/11 as tours to follow. I would not only like to go to the Casino with them, but listen to their share tips and and horses to back.

What do we take from a tour like that? Here are a list of one word / short rhetorical questions :

Foakes?

Selection?

Training in Aus?

Blame Covid?

Win or lose, I still love listening to TMS.

A quick read.

I think there were parts of Fred’s early time at Lancs I would like to have read more about, and of course 6 extra chapters on 2005 wouldn’t have gone amiss, but entertaining, and he seems like a man who just gets on with getting the very most out of life.