Archive for the ‘Cricket’ Category
It’s tragic that misadventurous Segway tycoon Jimi Heselden careered off a cliff to his death. For many reasons, not least that he was unable to witness perhaps the crowning achievement of his beloved machine:
I love how carefree and happy he looks as he glides past Mark Nicholas into the gaping maw of catastrophe.
Normally the Barmy Army trumpet rings out it works as a call to arms, the signal for a thousand stupefied contract workers to form a disorderly conga and sing ribald songs about Mitchell Johnson. In Dubai it sounds like a lonely last post. Where is everyone? Perhaps the insurmountable clash of cultures is to blame. Beer snakes and t-shirts bearing unhilarious ‘all Australian people are convicts’ slogans are actually forbidden according to sharia law. Getting lashed is stitched into the constitution of the Barmy Army. But not with an actual lash.
The ICC are hoping that the attendance will double when the series returns to Dubai for the final game. I’m going.
As for the team, maybe they are pining for the boozy encouragement from the sidelines. Or maybe they didn’t prepare properly. A lot has been spoken about the issues that the English batsmen had picking the length of the spinners. Thanks to an e-mail from a nice woman who appears to be doing PR for dhows, I’ve found the reason why:
I’m blowing my own trumpet again. If you are fortunate to have your own trumpet, what else are you going to do but blow it? It would be a waste of a good trumpet otherwise. That said, I do possess an electronic keyboard which I seldom play, except to amuse myself with its built-in helicopter sound effects. I can play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in chopper. It’s become quite a hit in Dalston.
Anyway, here’s the my latest piece for the HuffPost.
It’s never quite as intense when you can’t smell the red and white face paint around your nostrils, but watching South Africa take on Australia at cricket is nearly always absorbing, even as a Englishman from afar. The current series is as magnetic as ever, thanks largely to the flailing failures (flailures? that should be a word) of the batsmen on either side.
Australian tribulations are particularly satisfying. Phil Hughes is the Great White Hope of the batting line-up and he isn’t that great. Although he is white to be fair to him. He’s also a human slip cradle. A Mardi Gras-style parade nearly broke out in Sydney when Usman Khawaja made a whole 37 on debut against England, such was the craving for a new talent to emerge. His average has since dipped to 32.5. Mitchell Johnson runs into bowl with the grace of a pantomime horse whose front portion has just farted into his partner’s face. He took 3 wickets at 85. All good fun.
But it is also strangely comforting to witness the Australians reveal their survival instincts and level the series at the Wanderers (obviously disregarding the pustular look of jubilation on Peter Siddle‘s face). Hughes and Khawaja made runs. Pat Cummins is a very fast bowler and he was born in 1993. I’m literally old enough to be his dad, although that would have required relations with a girl when I was 14, where I was actually just at home playing carpet bowls with myself on my parents’ landing. And even Mitch dusted himself down and made a poised 40 to win the game. In Perth last winter he seemed to strike a rhythm with the ball after showing it with the bat. Perhaps this will be the impetus for a five-fer in the deciding test.
The series is tantalisingly poised. It promises much. A famous showdown between two ferocious rivals.
I’ve just been watching a compilation of highlights from the 1997-98 Premier League season set to “A Whole New World“, a cloying piece of music composed for the Disney film Aladdin. There are tears in my eyes. That is the immense emotional punch of the musical montage. Separately the footage and the song don’t have the capacity to stir, but together they form a powerful cocktail that reacts with that section of the brain controlling blubbing and throat-lumps.
The most seminal work in the field has been created by the BBC. Musical montages form part of their public service remit. I hope that in the seconds before I die, when my life streams before my eyes, it’s edited into a BBC musical montage. I have spent Olympic Games and Wimbledons waiting impatiently for the events to finish before enjoying the concluding montage. The segment following the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona was so moving it was conceivable that R.E.M. had written “Everybody Hurts” specifically as an elegy for Derek Redmond‘s snapped hamstring.
Montages can be potently funny too. Consider the collection of clips broadcast at the end of the World Snooker Championship, mainly of “ball-hitting-another-ball-and-going-into-a-pocket-it-wasn’t-intended-for” scenarios, perhaps the most unhilarious happening in sport. But place a Scott Joplin ragtime classic over the action and you’ve collapsed to your knees, crumbling in laughter, pointing at the screen screaming “OMG, did you see that ball fall into a pocket it wasn’t supposed to?”.
The phenomenon extends to other non-sport television. I managed to avoid the last series of the Channel 4 Big Brother series until its final episode, during which a montage was aired. It largely consisted of people that I didn’t know and didn’t care about walking up the steps to leave the house in slow motion. Temper Trap‘s “Sweet Disposition” played. Chills coursed up my spine. With this faculty for making even the worst in society seem sympathetic, advertisers should rethink party political broadcasts and simply show clips of David Cameron or Ed Miliband chatting to kittens or making daisy-chains set to Coldplay or Elbow or other mawkish music.
Snazzy despot Colonel Gadaffi recognised the potential of the musical montage, using one to impress his paramour US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice. He cut photos together with a specially commissioned song called “Black Flower in the White House”. Rice described it as “strange and creepy”. Perhaps that was more of an ITV one.
I saw this documentary once about an extraordinary young man called Derek. Derek is a savant. He is a piano prodigy who gave a concert at the Barbican Hall at the age of 9. He also appeared on Wogan. He is uniquely able to listen to complex pieces of music for the first time and then repeat them immediately on his piano. He took his act to Las Vegas. Unfortunately Derek also has severe learning difficulties and autism and requires live-in care from a lady called Pam to fulfil his daily wants.
I think that Mario Balotelli might be a savant. Admittedly, kicking a ball into a net doesn’t necessitate the same level of virtuosity as reeling off a Beethoven piano concerto but Balotelli obviously has a natural mastery of the sport. But setting off fireworks in your bathroom suggests a need for constant supervision. Every time we are amused by the latest of his misadventures, we might all actually be laughing at someone suffering from an actual brain disorder. Perhaps someone should organise a clinical intervention. If there are any neurologists reading this then I submit the below clip to you as a potential sympton of his malfunction:
Surrey‘s dash to the land of milk and honey and shiny Duke cherries that is the Liverpool Victoria County Championship Division One was momentarily checked on Tuesday afternoon by an intense burst of rain. An entire home county paused and prayed for more clement weather.
Hooded rascals in Croydon downed their petrol bombs. Fatted financiers clothed in Pringle looked to the skies from their three-footers on the greens of Virginia Water. And patrons in the homosexual haunts of Vauxhall, still whirling from their wanton celebrations of the fifth batting point, emptied onto the streets to unite in supplication to the clouds above.
But sun broke through and stayed for a day, long enough for the team to secure a promotion berth. Watched on by entire villages gathered in front of a single television. A million hopes realised on the outrageous spin of a Gareth Batty delivery. And from the airless peaks of the High Weald, to the flood plains of the Wey and the Mole, a carnival exploded. Suddenly arable farmers and removal men thundered down the A3 in their trucks, sounding their horns in triumph. Their passengers waved flags and vast ostrich feathers. Toddlers skipped alongside the cavalcade, their joyous faces brushed with the dark brown colour of their motherland.
Over in the capital, Kingston, county councillors sat in their senate and debated the proper means in which to commemorate this cherished piece of history. An agreement was reached to grant upon the entire squad the freedom of the fair city of Reigate, the only fitting honour possible. And to erect a massive golden statue of Tim Linley in Richmond Park.
The day turned to night turned to morning, the festivities continued. And although the heads may be fuzzy today, no-one in this great county will ever forget 14th September 2011. The day Surrey were promoted. As runners-up. Because of an extra batting point.
This morning, just after 10 o’clock, Cricinfo reported that the start of the LVCC Division 2 match between Surrey and Derbyshire had been delayed due to crowd congestion. I rubbed my knuckles into my eyes sockets, looked sceptically at the bottle of scotch I keep on my desk to intoxicate me through the day, and gazed at my monitor for a minute.
Could this be true? Perhaps the phenomenal recent accomplishment of the international side had caused a tsunami of interest to wash at the gates of the Oval. Or the tantalising prospect of promotion dangling down like a moist grape had enticed the ‘Rey followers in their thousands.
No. I spoke to my friend Bonald in his Oval office. He reported that there was around a hundred people at the ground. Unless the arena was only accessible through a small skylight in the pavilion roof then congestion seemed unlikely. He also added that the game started in disappointingly punctual fashion.
It seems that there was a miscommunication on the part of Cricinfo. Either that or a sick satirical joke on county cricket’s perennial inability to attract an audience even for its most arresting fixtures. Invariably the domestic season works as a crescendo towards a finale in which literally zillions of permutations are thrillingly possible, as potentially crucial points are made available at every turn like blackberries on an autumnal bush. Unlike in football, in which the last game of the season is mainly just a parade of expensive new kits and self-congratulation, domestic cricket often comes to an exhilarating conclusion. Just in front of 0.01% of the crowd.
I’m not massively comfortable with the use of superlatives. They’re a bit flash and unnecessary, like diamond dental crowns. It does tend to dilute the vocabulary when describing England this summer though, hence why I’ve been less than prolific recently. But now England are officially
the best very good, and deserved holders of the Giant Shiny Chupa-Chup, I should pass some form of comment.
Watching the highlights today, I spied something in one fleeting frame of action. Chris Schofield had appeared on the pitch. A gormless ghostly figure from the past, from a much shitter era of English cricket. Normally the management let enthusiastic spaniel pups come bounding onto the field when a substitute is required, like that boy from One Direction who was pressed into service at the weekend.
Perhaps Schofield was introduced as a reminder of what once was. A gawky chinless reminiscence of where it all began, being one of the first signatories on a ECB central contract. So here’s to you Schoey, they couldn’t have done it without you.