Posts Tagged ‘usa’
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”.
I was drunk during the England game. It probably explains why their performance didn’t frustrate me as much as the rest of the nation apparently. I was wearing the footballing version of beer goggles.
Robert Green sobered me up momentarily though. As the lone West Ham supporter in the room I became the sounding board for the unilateral and aggressive decrial of his talents. As if by dint of my longstanding interest in his current employers I was required to vouch for his conduct during the tournament. I can’t defend him though. This sort of clownery is tolerated on a weekly basis at Upton Park, but not on the international stage.
I do feel strangely protective of Emile Heskey though. Like the parent of an awkward child on sports day. “No Emile, you get into the sack feet first”. It was crushingly inevitable when Heskey was put clear just to stuff it straight into Tim Howard’s midriff. Emile doesn’t really do that kind of thing. Score. That said, largely he had an effective game, letting the ball bounce off him in the general direction of the goal or a team-mate.
But the general consensus is that England would be better served if Heskey was dispensed with in favour of a formational change to fill the large empty meadow that often seems to gape between the ranks of four. Better players than Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan will make hay in there. It might be that Emile has dropped the egg off his last spoon.
Success and failure for England lies either side of a narrow line between the quarter and semi-finals. Crash out in the last eight and an entire nation heads down to its local Costcutters to smash its windows in protest at the systemic and endemic failings in our beloved game. Win that match and we’ll gather at Heathrow to welcome home the all-conquering comedy-titted heroes whatever happens in the semis.
Algeria were massive in the Eighties, reaching both finals tournaments in that decade. In 1982 they beat West Germany before being eased out in a grotesque stitch-up engineered by the Germans and Austria, the lasting ramifications of which are that it is now impossible to watch every game of the World Cup. Unless you have two televisions next to each other. Algeria failed to win a single match in 1986. Obviously not the manager’s fault. He’s still in the job.
There’ll always be a suspicion that the Americans have brittle tendencies, that they might just run off home with the ball if they’re not the best team. Have enough mediocre Premiership talent to step up and scare England. Trust me, come Saturday Jonathon Spector will have morphed into Pele. It’s always the way.
Most England fans will be praying that their team has negotiated safe passage into the second phase before they face up against the Slovenians. Not because they’re any good, but it’s an afternoon kick-off and some of us sit where our bosses can see our computers. Robert Koren is the man most likely to undergo the Pele transformation.
So the prodigal sport returns. It’s hardly surprising that cricket’s accountants have suggested to move the whole shooting match over to the land of fat sporting nuts with even fatter wallets. The States is the cradle of the international game after all, the first fixture being played in Manhattan 170 years ago between the home team and Canada.
What is vaguely extraordinary is that this impromptu New Zealand – Sri Lanka series has not found its home like a nesting cuckoo in an athletics stadium or a ballpark but in a 20,000 capacity ground at Broward County, in the heart of the Everglades in Florida. A ground designed specifically for cricket.
I had no idea that there was a need for such an amenity among the indigenous population of gators in the Sunshine State. I don’t recall that little boy from Gentle Ben sharpening up his forward defence with some throwdowns with his bear. Or Will Smith going to Miami to buy a new Grey Nicholls Dynadrive.
To be honest it suggests the blurry thinking of a Costneresque farmer hearing strange voices out his field telling him to “build it and they will come”. They meant a baseball stadium.
Although to be fair they did come. Twice since the ground was built in 2007. Once for a international competition of veterans such as Javed Miandad and Richie Richardson. The other occasion was the Martin Luther King Twenty20 featuring local players. We knew that King had a dream. We didn’t know it was to have a very minor limited overs cricket tournament named after him.
Maurice Edu of Rangers and the United States has the solemn honour of being the first participant to be stuck into my South Africa 2010 Panini World Cup sticker album. As a man in his thirties, the excitement that this generates should have dissipated years ago but it’s an enduring addiction that has lasted since the April before Mexico ’86, the month that Maurice Edu was born.
The breaking news from Panini world is that the traditional format of the album has been ditched in favour of a more democratic layout which affords each nation two pages to exhibit their nascent squads. Of course this is more sensible but I can’t help feel a little disappointed, having found great comfort in Panini’s robust and lasting persistence in a wonky structure that relegated three nations to a single page, forcing pairs of players to cosy up on the one sticker. I often dreamt of the day that a team from the shadowy margins of the album – an Angola or a Saudi Arabia or a Jamaica – would go forward and win the trophy. That will not happen now.
I have bought a Panini album every tournament since Mexico, apart from 1990 when I naively plumped for a rival album produced by Orbis, seduced as I was by its Lever arch housing and file dividers. I boycotted the album extravaganza completely in 1994, labouring under the pretence that I was too cool for this puerile frippery and listened to acid jazz instead.
Sticking is a very simple pleasure. I normally buy a dozen packs opening them all at once, turning them face down and sorting them into numerical order for ease of use. And then stick each one in with surgical precision, sometimes putting on a pair of reading glasses that I don’t need. I don’t think I’m alone in wallowing in the scientific approach and misplaced pride in my stickerwork:
Of course the inherent tragedy of being an overannuated sticker collector is a paucity of potential swapsie providers. It’s not like I can go to school. There is a primary school at the end of my road so I could loiter around the gates scoping suitable swapsie swapees. But there are rules against that kind of thing.
Controversy might be all the Winter Games can rely on to sustain the interest of sports fans: some partisan marking at the ice rink, a wasted snowboarder vomiting all over the half-pipe, or Russo-American relations disintegrating in the hockey final.
The Vancouver organisers have made a brave pitch to create some early rumblings by inviting Arnold Schwarzenegger to carry the torch during the opening ceremony on Friday. Arnie’s candid and remorseless tales of steroid-munching in his days as a professional beefcake puts him for many firmly outside the Olympic movement and its ideals.
Unfortunately for the Games, this one isn’t going to rumble: as Arnie pointed out himself, having lots of bulbous muscles in funny places isn’t actually a sport, and therefore pumping yourself up artificially shouldn’t be considered illegal in Olympic terms.
If there is any objection to Schwarzenegger lining up on the starting blocks on Friday it should be for this portrayal as Mr. Freeze in one of those rubbish Batman films of the late nineties. If anything is going to put you off all things related to snow and ice then it’s this: