In His Day
It was once my gross misfortune to sit through an after-dinner speech by Alec Bedser. The pretty predictable gist of which was how the modern cricketer has the constitution of Victorian matchstick girl and how everything was a lot better ‘in my day’. In fact I’d estimate that he was operating at a rate of about 14 ‘in my days’ per minute, spewing forth content that would have been deemed too ludicrous for Monty Python’s ‘Four Yorkshiremen’ sketch. As the rant grew more vituperative, his complexion took on a bizarre russet hue and so in the end his gnarled head resembled a very angry Cox’s Pippin.
For the duration of the speech, I was largely preoccupied making my left hand prevent my right one from inserting the nearest butterknife into my earhole. It had reasonably assumed that effecting a major perforation of my eardrum would prove to be a more pleasant experience than listening to the inveterate old bugger spew forth dubious anecdotes like how he once bowled 483 overs in a day without a spinal column.
Christ knows what Bedser’s reaction was to Andrew Strauss’ decision to opt out of the Bangladesh tour. Probably vomiting up his brawn and piccalilli sandwiches all over his Daily Mail. For a man who saw service at Dunkirk, I’m assuming ‘being jaded’ doesn’t really cut the English mustard. But in all honesty the notion of an England captain voluntarily missing test matches does leave a strange taste in the mouth. Perhaps he just misunderstood the role of ‘skipper’.
Strauss’ main concern is this winter’s Ashes series in Australia. Perhaps this is understandable. Veterans of the last tour probably still suffer the same febrile nightmares that plagued anyone coming back from Vietnam without any legs. Maybe Strauss is terrified he’ll end up broken and blotto like Flintoff, turning up at the MCG on Boxing Day with sambuca stains on his once pristine tie telling anyone who’ll listen about the good ol’ days of 2009.
Maybe he promised his wife he’d take his sons to Chessington World of Adventures on the first day of the Chittagong test. Maybe he’s standing as a Conservative in the next election. Maybe he’s doing an evening class in marquetry for beginners. Maybe he’s signed up for the next series of Hole In The Wall. Maybe he just can’t be arsed.