Trescothick’s dedication

Patrick, he of Times fame, has a really interesting interview with Howard Clayton, the “official” England Under-19 scorer who has seen the likes of Darren Gough, Michael Vaughan, Alastair Cook and Marcus Trescothick early in their cricketing careers. This struck out, though:

Who knows which members of the present team will become Test stars? Sometimes it is not always the cockiest who succeed. Clayton was struck by the attitude of a teenaged Trescothick, who in 1994 was teased by his team-mates for wearing his England cap and blazer after matches had finished. “He told them: ‘It might be the closest I get to playing for England,’ ” Clayton said. If only other players showed such pride and dedication.

Trescothick has always intrigued me. He arrived to Test cricket clearly mentally suited to the demands, if not technically astute; his near-total lack of feet movement early on looked awkward and horrible. He’s made a fine career in spite of these failings, and from very early on was part of Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher’s team meetings, suggesting a wise head on then-young shoulders. But it was when he spoke of his hatred of bullying in the dressing room – and a need, he felt, of equality – which made me sit up and notice. He’s a quiet bloke, undemonstrative and doesn’t enjoy the spotlight; happier in Taunton than Trinidad.

Let’s not forget (not that we are) what a fine record he has: 5825 runs at 43.79, 14 hundreds and 29 fifties. That’s decent, for an opening bat.

Statuesque cricket in Hungary

Angus Bell, who has been all over the place playing and writing about cricket (and other things), emailed a couple of photos to continue the theme in this post. Statuesque cricket poses.

Cricket in Hungary

Soviet cricket


Read his Wisden Cricketer articles here, or buy his book Slogging the Slavs.

Pommy bashing gets the green light

The political correctness sheep haven’t yet grazed cricket’s many pastures of weird idioms and phrases. Not yet. And before I go on – is that the most bizarre metaphor I’ve ever written? Yup.

In English, what I meant to say was Cricket Australia have given the term “pom” (and its derivatives) the all clear, in the wake of yesterday’s clamping down on racism by the thumb-twiddlers in Dubai. It’s terrific news allround. I personally don’t give a hoot if an Aussie calls me a pom; quite the contrary. I’m sure every England cricketer is proud to be a “pommy bastard” and a “dirty little pommy scumbag” or whatever else the Australians will bleat at them this winter. In this age where even the trusty manhole cover is cowering in fear from the political correctness giant (New Labour: new words), it is terrific that cricket is just about escaping his all encompassing snare.

On similar lines, my Mum’s old boss – a terrific person, the lead in her field (rheumatology) and a remarkably resilient character – reminded me of society’s pathetic pandering to equality. I got to know her really well, and ended up working with her at the NHS for a while; although a senior consultant, revered by everyone and frightening medical students due to her authority, we got on like a house on fire. But even she, when I cheerily asked “So then Miss Chairman, how was the meeting?”, retorted furiously with “It’s ChairPERSON, Will”. I put my hands up (without coming to the party) – a fair point, and I respected her too much to disagree. But nevertheless, how pathetic it is that these words and phrases are taken so bloody seriously these days. I’m seeing it from a bloke’s angle, and I’m sure most girls don’t squirm when they drive over a manhole cover, not a womanhole cover or personhole cover.

Anyway, back to the poms. The term pom is permissible but only if it’s not preceded or followed by something which would be considered obscene. In short, pommy bastard could yet be made extinct – not to mention the more colourful variations (remember Katich?).

But for now, let’s just enjoy the insults.

Escape in the city

Now then, why have I not been here? My boss will say “because you’re a disorganised f******” and he’d have a point. But in my defence, it’s not well known and nor would you stumble across it, yet it’s slap bang in the middle of London. Here, in fact.

Go there and read a book; watch the cricket; drink tea, or beer (the only two things permissable while watching cricket); enjoy a cigarette and ponder life’s mysteries.

Escape in the city...


Partying in Cherie’s gob

I’m so eloquent with my titles on this blog aren’t I? All class. Anyway, just seen this photo – a birthday party in the Lord’s media centre (some say it resembled Cherie Blair’s rather unnaturally wide mouth. Hence the title. You got that though).

Lord’s is where it’s at these days…out with the dusty traditionalists and in with, hang on…women? WOMEN? They’ll be letting them vote, introducing pay equality and all sorts next!

Mark's family at Nobumi's party


Your highlights of the summer

See that? That fleeting flash was our summer – and it’s gone. It’s the end of the season chaps, so what has your highlight been?

      Sussex’s double.
      Monty’s dismissal of, well, anyone you choose.
      England’s hilarious one-day performance against Sri Lanka.
      England’s less hilarious one-day performance against Pakistan.

So, throwing it open to the dangerous stump-wielding mob, what moment or event has been your pick of the summer? Need not be from the list above…those are just suggestions.

The final curtain

The English ‘summer’ finally drew to a close today, at least as far as cricket is concerned. Predictably, Glamorgan were relegated in the Pro40 playoff, where the form 2nd Division side was guaranteed the home advantage in the competition’s rules. While I use the word ‘relegated’, a more accurate description for their performance against Hampshire would probably be ‘thumped’.

As a format, Pro40 has seen quite a bit of stick in the press. As a spectator, I quite enjoyed it as a competition. Certain aspects of our domestic season are to be taken as read. Firstly, we play too much cricket. This comes from the irresolvable situation where players and officials want to play first class cricket, whereas counties want to stage as many one-dayers as possible to draw crowds. Secondly, there are days and periods that simply are not conducive to good cricket, be that due to poor weather or diverted media attention.

Pro40 was tasked with several burdens. It was given the dregs of the season to pull in crowds that were increasingly drawn away by football and frequent showers, and an uphill battle to establish itself as a format. Where I feel it succeeded is in improving dramatically on the 45-over league of last year.

While placed in a part of the season where interest in cricket usually starts to wane, scheduling was quick to ensure that most of a team’s eight matches were played on Sundays. Although questionable as an international format, day/night matches at county level ensure a higher crowd, and sensibly all mid-week games were played with later start times. The decision to drop the amount of overs to 40 is one for which I have the utmost praise. I never understood the need for 45 overs. Especially considering the increased C&G 50-over workload, an extra five overs simply provides a drag on a game struggling to maintain Twenty20’s excitement.

There were also very few dead rubbers. Competition for places both up and down was still hotting up until the last round of fixtures. Although the decision to place the game on the last day of the Ryder Cup weekend lacked a certain amount of sense, the decision to have a playoff added the opportunity to retain a decisive season ender. Considering the third rule of domestic cricket is there is always someone who will disagree with whatever you change, I would much rather that the last ball of the season was bowled in a match that mattered than a game played for the prestige of finishing Nowhere Special, Division 2.

Australia v West Indies, DLF Cup final

It’s huge, it’s massive – it’s the DLF Cup final today between Australia and West Indies. And Australia aren’t going great either at 83 for 3. Still, anything over 100 should be plenty, given West Indies’ amazing collapses in the past week or so. Live scorecard.

UPDATE: yep. Same old, same as.

Ashes hype on TV in Australia

I suppose it’s understandable with just 62 days to go that Australia is revving itself up for the Ashes. What’s surprising is the nature of these adverts which put the Barmy Army right at the forefront; some might say they’re government propaganda to get Australia out to the Tests (yeah, like that’s gonna be tricky).

I don’t know…there’s just a sense that the England supporters really got to Australia last year and maybe they’re worried about the influx of t’Barmy Army again. Whatever. They’re a lot of fun.

Video: meet the Aussie posse

Barmy Army beware the Aussie posse. I’m clearly a man of simple tastes, or none at all in this case, as I found this short video a bit tickling. It’s Yabba, whoever he is, and he’s training up some recruits to combat the stampede of the Barmy Army this winter. Anyone know who Yabba is? (Click here if you can’t see the video below)