Harris Sportsthoughts

Thoughts about Sport

The Blog is Dead. Long Live the Blog.

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Like Lord Lucan, Harris Sportsthoughts went missing years ago and can now be considered officially dead. Although the reason it went missing wasn’t because it murdered a nanny, it was mainly a lack of time.

I watch less sport than I used to because I have two young children who aren’t into sport as much I as am. I did try with my older son but I’ve only witnessed him interacting with sport once during a recent test match when he described Stephen Finn as ‘a funny little man’.

I do have a little more time on my hands but the only thing I really know about is my family – so I’m writing about being a dad here. If you’re not into parenting or children or families then probably give it a swerve.

 

 

Written by harrisharrison

February 8, 2016 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Cricket

Roast Beef

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This has been zipping around social media for a while now I dare say so you’ve probably seen it. But if there’s one person who views it for the first time on here then I consider my duty done. Before watching I presumed it was a kind of knockabout Going Live-style question and answer session with sundry kids asking Ian Botham inane questions like what his favourite flavour of fizzy pop is.

What actually transpires is a little bit like one of those celebrity roasts that are popular in the States at the minute except not played for laughs. Definitely not laughs. Essentially a selection of dour Scottish teenagers have been specially gathered in order to systematically dismantle Beefy’s proto-Partridge sub-UKIP worldview. As a format it’s unimprovable and I’m not sure why it’s not still a staple of primetime television. As Botham pointedly says himself: “I’m an entertainer”. On this evidence, he’s not wrong.

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July 26, 2015 at 7:12 pm

Posted in Cricket

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A Word To The England Selectors Having Watched One Third Of Last Night’s Game

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I went to sleep last night just after Eoin Morgan had been dismissed thinking that England would probably crumble to 259 and Sri Lanka would win comfortably by seven wickets. When I awoke to the result, I found I had underestimated both England and Sri Lanka’s batting. Although I hadn’t foreseen a large chunk of the game’s narrative, the impact of the result was no less deflating, perhaps even more so given that we’d actually managed to cobble together a seemingly defendable total.

England’s batting formulae sort of worked last night but there is little more dispiriting sight than an England batsman ‘working it’ straight to a fielder. You’re supposed to ‘work it’ into the gaps, boys. Otherwise there’s no point of ‘working it’. You may as well just ‘twat it’.

Nurdling has never been very fashionable and is becoming even less so but done properly it still retains a kind of kitsch cachet. In context the nurdle is a helpful shot. Three nurdles and a boundary every over works out at 350 for the entire innings; five nurdles and a boundary every other over is the same equation. One or two scoring nurdles per over against Tillakaratne Dilshan isn’t quite going to cut it. Gary Ballance nurdled one straight into Dilshan’s hands. Gaps, Gary, not hands.

It’s difficult to know what’s going on with Ballance. Presumably the selectors thought he was worth a punt at 3, having lobbed him in there propos nothing for the test matches last summer to great effect. Ballance’s detractors say he scores at too pedestrian a rate for one-day cricket but I’m sure I’ve seen him go berserk for Yorkshire although that may have been a mirage or someone who looked very like Gary Ballance. In any case he’s probably hit his last nurdle in this World Cup.

It probably doesn’t matter who comes in for Ballance, just like it probably won’t matter if they swap the bowling around, although James Tredwell’s stock is rising the longer he doesn’t play. He does look great in a high-vis bib after all. He’s probably worth a shout given that our most economical bowler thus far is Moeen Ali. Moeen isn’t exactly a part-time spinner but he isn’t full-time either, he’s a four-days-and-leave-at-lunchtime-on-Friday bowler.

There’s a woman at my work who looks exactly like James Tredwell in a wig, There isn’t a single cricket fan at my work so there’s no-one who might be amused if I pointed out the resemblance to them. And none of the cricket fans I know have ever set eyes on this woman. A tragic waste really.

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March 1, 2015 at 8:19 pm

England Have Basically Won The World Cup Already

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As ever the Cricket World Cup is shaping up to be another slough of despond for England fans. With most of the action happening in the small hours it’s tempting just to ignore it completely, but if we must follow it then maybe it’s best to manage expectations. Personally I’m going to judge England’s performance against the standards of my own team, a friendly side that plays around six games a summer.

First of all it was good to see that all England players turned up on time. No-one got caught in traffic or slept in too late and Eoin Morgan wasn’t forced to bat first while he waited for half his team to pitch up. Everybody looked smart. All players were wearing trousers. There seemed to be enough kit to go around. There were no delays while incoming and outgoing batsmen exchanged boxes and similarly all batsmen were padded up ready to go in. Which was a good job. There was a new ball for each innings, in fact there were two new balls for each innings which is outstanding.

Someone took a hat-trick. A hat-trick! That makes them a shoe-in for the Bowler of the Year award at the end-of-season dinner, largely because that will be the only thing anyone can remember when voting. Someone else nearly scored a hundred. That is unheard of. Only a few catches were dropped. Not half bad.

Fundamentally England were able to field eleven players. Some of whom looked as if they could bat better than they could bowl and some of whom who looked as if they could bowl better than they could bat. And some of them, well, some of them were at least there. It was encouraging to see that there seemed to be three or four other people on the sidelines who looked like they might able to step in if later in tournament one of the regulars withdraws citing a prior hitherto unmentioned commitment or a sudden early-morning “migraine”.

So there are plenty of positives to take from the game and apparently they serve a really good tea at Wellington, where the next game is. Onwards.

They’re wearing trousers. Key.

Written by harrisharrison

February 14, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Selling Cricket to America

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Just before Christmas I was approached by US sports network ESPN to provide them some copy for some adverts promoting their coverage of the Cricket World Cup. Yes, I know, I was surprised as you are now. But delighted also.

I took this very seriously. A bit like a method actor I got into the character of an American ad man – I smoked like a chimney, developed a chronic alcohol dependency and repeatedly cheated on my wife. It’s alright, she doesn’t read this.

In actuality I was brought in as a genuine cricket geek (remarkably it seems that news of my status as a sport saddo has travelled across the Atlantic) to ensure that any copy would seem authentic to the surprisingly large community of cricket loons Stateside. I supplied them with such gems as “delivery” and “toss”. This ad forms part of the result of our collaboration:

In my head this campaign is the flint that creates the spark that lights the fire of cricket in America. My head is a strange place.

In my head the ESPN coverage of the World Cup reaches non-cricket fans and something clicks. Before long games of street cricket will be played from the projects of New York through to huge collegiate matches in front of fanatical support. In the future when Americans think of the Super Bowl they won’t think of football, they’ll think of a really good delivery. And when they talk of the death of baseball, they’ll all agree that the beginning of the end was the 2015 Cricket World Cup and the ESPN coverage and ultimately my “toss”.

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February 7, 2015 at 2:28 pm

I Am In The Nightwatchman Magazine

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I wrote a piece for the Nightwatchman magazine, which is Wisden’s quarterly magazine. Amazingly, they published it. I say this without self-deprecation as it sits alongside many erudite essays and articles submitted by people who write about cricket for a living, including the current editor of Wisden and a former test batsman. My qualifications are that I really like cricket and I can read and write.

The test cricketer is Ed Smith. You can read his piece here. Scroll on a bit further and you can read the opening paragraph from my piece. To read the rest of the piece you’ll need to buy the magazine. It’s quite dear so I don’t expect any of you to do that. So I can tell you now that that single paragraph is probably weakest of all the paragraphs in the piece. From that paragraph on it ascends to the level of Pulitzer-prize winning journalism, tackling big meaty themes such as the contents of my pencil case and startled cats.

But you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Written by harrisharrison

January 2, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Posted in Cricket

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Watching England is Like Getting Drenched in a Rainstorm

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The England one-day team is like an old friend. You don’t see them for a while but when you do you pick up the same old routine like no time has past at all. The routine in this case involves continual disappointment. Perhaps the friend analogy isn’t appropriate. Better a distant cousin, a cousin that you find quite irritating.

Becoming annoyed while watching England fail is like becoming annoyed about getting wet when it rains. It’s inevitable, so the annoyance is pointless.

You might read this and think it’s even more pointless committing this feeling to written words. You may be right. But it’s always been an exercise in tempting fate, trying to fox fate with my wily reverse psychology. Hoping that I’d look back across these posts after the World Cup and think it was hilarious that I got it so wrong, that my pessimism was so unfounded after we’d charged to victory.

Well I’ve looked back at my posts and it’s depressing. For many reasons. Always the bleak realism before the World Cup, the affirmation of that defeatism, and then the hope that the team can start rebuilding over the next four years for the next event. But the dream that a team can restructure and re-invent itself over that period doesn’t take into account that some of that team will suffer catastrophic loss of form or injure themselves or retire.

Or get sacked for being a bit of a dick.

Written by harrisharrison

November 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Phil Neville Shows A Bit More Excitement

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So Phil Neville responded to criticism of his monotonous debut in the co-commentator’s chair with the following:

“The feedback is that I need to show a bit more excitement, so I think you’ll see that more on Thursday night in the highlights show”

The promise of seeing ‘a bit more excitement’ is certainly enticing, but what on earth is it going to sound like?

CHRIST ALIVE! DID YOU SEE THAT! THE BALL WENT NEAR THE GOAL!

FUCK ME! WHAT. A. KICK. MUST HAVE GONE AT LEAST 40 YARDS! SOARING LIKE AN EAGLE STRAIGHT OUT OF PLAY! 

WHOARRRRRRRRRGGGGHRRRRRAAAHH! IT’S A THROW-IN.

OFFSIDE! I LOVE THIS WORLD CUP! I LOVE FOOTBALL! I LOVE LIFE! I LOVE YOU GUY MOWBRAY! 

IT’S A YELLOW CARD! YELLOW LIKE THE SUN AND THE DAFFODILS AND THE MARGARINE!

Word is that the BBC have recruited legendary Dutch commentator Jack Van Gelder, responsible for the demented outburst below, to coach Neville and the pair are currently having a one-on-one excitement training session by shouting at seagulls on Ipanema beach.

 

RAY LEWINGTON! RAY LEWINGTON! RAY LEWINGTON!

Written by harrisharrison

June 17, 2014 at 9:30 pm

Posted in Cricket

I Got My Head Caught In The Doors Of A Train

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This is not me

First an apology. This isn’t a thought about sport as the masthead promises.

I wrote a letter to East Coast trains to complain about an incident in which my head was caught in the doors. I could probably finish it there and it would be the funniest thing I’ve ever written.

They have recently sent me a standard class return ticket to anywhere in their network by way of compensation which means I can go to Inverness and back again for free if I want to. So they deserve the miniscule bit of good publicity I’m going to give them.

The letter was conceived as one of those complaint letters that you sometimes see circulated around the internet. I thought it might be looked on more favourably at East Coast trains, perhaps even responded to in kind. In fact I received a very long and humourless answer back. Some may argue that they did respond in kind.

 

Dear Sir or Madam

I am writing to complain about an incident which occurred while disembarking one of the 0835 from King’s Cross at Grantham station on Monday, 10 March. Around 50 of my colleagues and I were attending a ceremony to celebrate long service at a country hotel not far from Grantham and had travelled up from Kings Cross that morning.

The doors opened as usual once the train had pulled to a halt in the station. I was already stood in the area by the toilets waiting to step off the train. I allowed a lady to disembark first and then followed her off the train. To my surprise the doors closed as I was leaving the train and struck me on the neck. Gladly I was not decapitated by this as it may have put a dampener on my day out. If I’d have turned up at the hotel without a head then I would not have been able to enjoy the tea and shortbread that was served on arrival. Disregarding the shortbread and thinking more about long-term strategy, my head and body have worked well together as team previously and it certainly would have been a shame not to be able to continue with this arrangement.

It may also have had a negative impact on my marriage if I’d have returned home without a head. My head is one of the reasons my wife fell in love with me. God knows it wasn’t my body. I also think that my employers may have looked upon it dimly had I shown up to work without a head; it would negatively affect my capacity to fulfil my duties properly and also look a bit scruffy.

I’m being facetious. I can’t pretend that the impact of the door even hurt. But it was a shock. And I have a strong virile neck. If I was a little frail old lady with a little frail old neck then the ramifications could have been more serious.

Happily for me, the doors opened again and I was able to step down onto the platform. I was one of the lucky ones. Most of my colleagues were sat in a different carriage and had diligently gathered their luggage and queued to leave the train as it was pulling into the station. Unfortunately some at the back of queue were unable to leave before the doors closed again, this time permanently. 14 ladies made an unscheduled trip to Doncaster. I’ve heard that Doncaster is lovely in late winter, but when there is tea and shortbread promised on arrival at a hotel near Grantham then it’s not the ideal destination. Happily they were able to turn around and return to Grantham in time for lunch (rice, new potatoes, a selection of cold cuts).

Again I’m being facetious, but again there could have more serious implications. If a family had been disembarking and the children were allowed to get off first the doors may have closed behind them, temporarily orphaning them and sending their parents to Doncaster. The children would have been left to fend for themselves on the mean streets of Grantham with no-one to look after them but a little old lady with no head. Sorry, facetious again. Can’t help it.

When we remonstrated with the station guard he explained that there was nothing he could do. Apart from not blow his whistle perhaps. He offered nothing by way of apology. Perhaps he had a shiny new whistle which he couldn’t wait to blow. Or maybe he simply couldn’t conceive that 50 people actually wanted to get off the train to visit Grantham. He said that all passengers should be ready to disembark before the doors open – which is fine until 30 people want to step off the same carriage. They’re not circus performers, they can’t all get off at once.

One of the Doncaster crew spoke to the train attendant who explained that stations are fined if they keep the train in the station too long. If this is true then I would suggest that the guidelines are eased slightly to allow for common sense to be applied and to allow 50 people who just want to get off the train and eat a little bit of shortbread.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts

Kind regards

Nick

Written by harrisharrison

June 1, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Posted in Blogging

Trolling With The Punches

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We’ve had a comment in from Joe Bloggs in response to an admittedly banal post I wrote about two years regarding the amount of traffic the blog was receiving from visitors typing in “Hazel Irvine tits” into search engines.

Joe writes:

“Shut the fuck up you knob. so what we want to see a womens tits. Women dont show them on purpose to winde men up? no? Apart from breast feeding thats what their there for. What women dont look at mens arses on snooker or football? or Linford Christies willie. Go back to your Nunnery or monastery and bible bash a bit more”.

It’s great to hear from you, Joe! 

It’s actually quite thrilling to be trolled in this way, properly trolled with swearing and poor grammar and everything, not like my mum trolls me. I think of it as a badge of honour.

It is my belief that Joe (if that is his real name) happened accidentally upon the post in the genuine search for images of Hazel Irvine’s naked breasts. In the hot flush of shame at being rumbled he may not have detected the trace of sarcasm in my words, unable to spot the faux-puritanism. 

What Joe also doesn’t realise is that as the master of this blog, I have full editorial approval over comments sent in and can tweak them as I see fit. So I’ve edited Joe’s comment, changing the spelling and punctuation and all of the words and the entire meaning.

It now reads:

“Hiya! Great post! Funny thing is that I’m a big fan of Hazel Irvine myself. In fact I’ve cut a picture of her face out of a copy of the Radio Times and glued it into a doll I stole from my niece. I call her Wee Hazel Irvine. She’s my best friend. We go on adventures together in my mum’s garden and sometimes even on the pavement outside her house. We like to punch trees and chase next-door’s cat. Mum shouts at Wee Hazel and me because she says that I should get a job. But there’s plenty of time for that. I’m only 33!!!”

It’s probably highly unethical to change his comment in this way and I’ve probably violated his freedom of speech. But he can’t complain too much because I’ve showcased his original comment by framing it within an entire post. Plus the grammar is much better now.

I’m off to find a nun so we can abhor some shit together.

Written by harrisharrison

May 4, 2014 at 11:53 am

Posted in Cricket

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