Archive for September 2011
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.
“Obviously my mission is incomplete – my goal is not realised.”
Thus spoke Audley ‘A-Force’ Harrison after a dispiriting defeat to David Haye during which he was hardly able to raise a hand to high-five his conqueror. We assumed that he was referring the continuation of a feted boxing career, the highlight of which was a series of titanic and ultimately unsuccessful bouts against a paper bag.
It seems now however that Harrison, known for his trademark ‘sting like a butterfly’ approach to the noble art, was discussing a future trade in showbusiness. Harrison has agreed to appear in the latest version of Strictly Come Dancing, making the mystifying decision to pass up an opportunity to play the Cowardly Lion in the West End staging of The Wizard of Oz, a role he was surely born to play.
His new venture has been greeted with apprehension by some BBC elders, aware that his previous involvement with the station brought about the total abandonment of its boxing output, the only occasion Harrison has been able to demolish anything. Throughout the series Harrison will go toe-to-toe with camp Italian judge Bruno Tonioli. And go down in three rounds.
During the promotional shoot for the show, Harrison was asked by the photographer to look “angry, really angry, like I’ve just called your mum a dickhead or something”. He was also instructed to ball his fist and make it look threatening, “like the furious hammer of Thor himself.” This is the result: