Holiday Reading

Herding Cats 

On passing by the beautiful Duke of Norfolk’s ground at Arundel this past Summer to watch a few overs of the annual Actors v Authors match, I took a stroll around the boundary and was recommended Herding Cats by Charlie Campbell. Thanks for the tip Rob (with the camera). 

Herding Cats is a good expression. Jazz Cats at that.

The front cover says it all : fielders with beer if not mobile phone in hand (irl both?), dejected and bored or fruitlessly appealing a wicket. Bails scattered. 

The Authors get a few good cricketers playing for them, although I don’t think the likes of Ed Smith turn up too often.

To have a quote from Nasser on the front is a result, although I suspect the foreword by Mike Brearley might attract a few more readers’ eyes. 

I read the little yellow book ‘..from Hackney to Hambledon’ a decade ago and loved it. This too delights. Interspersed with enticing Chapter Headings such as ‘The Tour’ and ‘The Morning of the Match’, and then further divided with sub headings such as ‘Does his age matter?’; ‘You have a Private Income don’t you?’; ‘Are we still going for the target’; and ‘Excellent advice but was this the moment for it?’, the pacing is perfect. As on the spot as McGrath.

When I turned up to watch the match a man sporting an ‘Eggs and Bacon’ tie bent my ear as I bought a cuppa about how Lords had been a ‘Roman Circus’ and a ‘Cauldron’ the previous week during the Test. I didn’t tell him that I had been there too, I was enjoying his recounting. There must have been something in the air. Actors and Writers.   

Back to the book – very enjoyable. 

There are some amusing anecdotes, such as the fielders that decide the game will be livened up by taking an ecstasy tablet, to the bowler who when asked what he’ll be bowling winks at his captain and says “Just you wait and see”, before hurling down an over of balls splayed everywhere and carted to all corners. 

Long live Sunday Cricket. 

Ten to win… and the Last Man In.

I enjoy reading Henry Blofeld’s works. 

When I read Ben Elton’s works I can hear his 100 mph voice coming through, and it is the same with Blofeld. Albeit the two – chalk and cheese.

The cover is great. You can sense the drama. With a middle stump on the ground and a batsman walking off unvelcroing his gloves, with Green capped Cricketers high fiving each other, there is a burning sunset after a day of blue skies which gives the backdrop to the weather vane of Father Time atop a pavilion which houses a non-digital scoreboard indicating any result is possible. Number 11 has a spring in his step and is running on. A full house.

These 30 matches span nearly 140 years. 

Naturally Blowers finds room for the Eton v Harrow match of 1910. There is an amusing account of a Taxi being handsomely paid to get to Lords on the double from a Barbers in Mayfair. 

Each account has the scorecard and they make pretty interesting reading. None more so than O’Brien’s 113 against England for Ireland in 2011 in Bangalore. I quote, ‘O’Brien moved from 60 to 70 in two balls and then from 80 to 90 in two more’ : fireworks.

A book like this couldn’t not contain an account of Headingley ’81.

I particularly liked the account of England v Zimbabwe in 1996. Glass of Bolly? Doing a ‘Bulawayo’ – very good. 

Naturally it ends with those two rather special matches in 2019 and Stokes doing his thing.  

Broad bows out.


A magical Ashes series.

To take a wicket with your last ball, and hit a six with the last ball faced must be unique.

What a special cricketing family.

I have fond memories of sitting on a train South from Scotland and seeing a little red light appear on my phone every time Stuart Broad took one of those 8 wickets in Trent Bridge in 2015.

He has been the player with the ability to wow us.

Yesterday was no different. I had written it off. But you know what the Phoenix did.

Film to see

‘The Greatest Game’ is a super doc about the World Cup Final in 2019. It won’t be long before we’re all following the fortunes of the teams in India later this year, but the Final 4 years ago at Lords is unlikely to be forgotten any time soon.

I liked the way the filmmakers gave brief descriptions of the English players’ backgrounds. I didn’t realise Jason Roy was a motorcyclist or had moved to Chipsted from SA at the age of ten.

What an extraordinary game that was.


England win by 3 wickets.

The Ashes were on the line.

Head on the block!

More Newky Brown Ale Moments than Champagne Moments in this one. Lessons in Woodwork.

What a treat it was to watch Day 2 with Yorkie Roberto.

The two Yorkies who took centre stage at the start of Day 2 (Root and Bairstow) didn’t push on, and we saw 6 England wickets fall although the Aussies were seriously held up with yet more Stokes Fireworks. Subsequently 4 Aussie wickets fell including Moeen Ali picking up Smudge for 2.

It was an incredibly fun trip up to Leeds and the ground was bathed in sunshine.

Day 3 was a different story with incessant rain but those spectators that were patient were treated to late Aussie wickets. England were set 251.

Perhaps it was fate that I had a Sunday Lunch in the New Forest and could only sporadically dip into the score. It was certainly better for my stress levels.

What a Series.

To Manchester.


Between this …… (after inserting Aussies on the first morning)

and this …. (last afternoon whizz bang fireworks)

there were so many little (and big) tales.

It was a joy to follow.

It was a joy to catch up with Fred.

…and it was a joy to take Dad.

The Brightside Ground, Bristol. Gloucestershire v Sussex Sharks. Vitality Blast.

Sussex have some big guns in their squad but they are either too busy getting over injuries or preparing for the Ashes. No matter, Sussex still strolled past Glos. Although the cricket was one sided, what a joy to catch up with old friends.

Sussex Sharks won the toss and inserted Glos. Why have Gloucestershire not got a name? The Gloucestershire Glockenspiels. Catchy? The team seems to be struggling a little. Perhaps it needs a lick of PR chrome.

Jo’burg born Roelofsen scored a handy 41 and apart from a useful 31 run 10th wicket partnership there were precious few other contributions. Karvelas and Shadab each took 4 wickets. Glos posted 140 off 19.2 overs. Never enough.

Outside the gates where WG is commemorated.

The Sharks went in to bat and knocked off the runs in 13.2 overs. Ward got a 50.

A lateral conversion on the Penthouses?

Cracking Evening.

Dr William Gilbert Grace.

The Closest contest was saved for the After Party.