Got a minute or ten?

I had the good fortune of (finally) meeting Patrick Kidd for lunch today and, among other things, he told us about his interview with Rahul Dravid yesterday (certainly worth reading). He managed 800 words – a fine feat considering he was afforded just two minutes with the India captain. Two. He and another journalist were given five “precious” minutes with him which never ceases to annoy me. With such a short time frame, you often end up firing questions at them, nodding furiously but not listening sufficiently, and it becomes a barrage for the interviewee. Of course, neither party – least of all those being interviewed – have hours and hours spare. But all we’re asking for is 10 minutes. That’s a fair amount of time in which to conduct a decent interview and get to know the human behind the sound-bites.

In Ireland, I was lucky to speak to a number of the players and the restrictions were far less. Rare and priceless. I wonder if and when that’ll ever happen? Anyway – go and read Patrick’s piece and of course his blog, Line and Length, immediately.

Fatty Batter: How Cricket Saved My Life (Then Ruined It)

Fatty Batter

“Never judge a book by its cover,” my Dad (and probably most others in the world) used to say. Maybe due to the rebel in me, or youthful naivety, I thought he was speaking in tongues again. Yes yes, the contents are what’s most important, but I’ve always maintained that if the cover is good, the insides must be even better. That’s right: I am that stupid. Pillock though I am, my methods haven’t yet let me down.

This book isn’t one of them, but it might as well be. I’ve seen it lying on my boss’s desk and it’s only a matter of time before I wade through it. And Patrick’s reviewed it for the paper, in which he says:

THERE IS SOMETHING almost autistic about cricket lovers. Not those who can actually play. Nor the Barmy Army types, whose main purpose at a match, it appears, is to tell fellow spectators in a beer-soaked caterwaul that everywhere they go, people want to know who they are and so on.

The most touching scenes are of Simkins the child, playing cricket in his father’s sweet-shop in Brighton, spending his holidays at the county ground in Hove trying to get autographs or constructing an entire season’s county championship under his bed with a dice game. It brought back memories of another rather sad child who devised a complicated set of rules based on my calculator’s random number generator so that I could play cricket during maths lessons.

Ah, Howzat. Every cricket fan has been there, though I found history the best lesson in which to steal the strike. What amazed me was how devastating Wacar Yewniss (for that is how my dyslexic friend spelled his name) was. Even in fantasy land, he sent down toe-crushers. I think my worst was 2 all out. And did anyone else play table football with a 10p piece? (also available in rugby and hockey editions, depending on your inventiveness in creating goalposts with your hands). Halcyon days.

Buy Fatty Batter for just £7

Cricketing lookalikes

Patrick is doing grand things with his blog. He’s proving that a broadsheet correspondent can react and adapt to the slightly more relaxed format, all the while maintaining his own style across both. Other papers and large media establishments have adopted blogs with worrying bandwagonnery, forgetting that it remains an editorial tool; the best blogs are well written, be that by a fan or an editor. The emphasis really must remain on quality content, not just the fanfare of joining in the party (and putting up your hand). I am as guilty as most of writing bullshit, as the rest of this post perfectly demonstrates – but at least I’m a consistent waffler!

If you haven’t read his blog yet, do.

He asked me for some lookalikes (see his post) and the only one I could come up with, off the top of my cranium, was Ned Flanders and John Buchanan. I’m surprised the Barmy Army haven’t cottoned onto it yet; perhaps they will this winter with cries of “Okily-dokily-doo”. In fact, as depressingly cheery Ned is, I’d rather him at a press conference than most coaches.

“Hididdily-ho, paradise dwellers”
“Hello, John. Happy with today’s performance, or do you feel you’re perhaps a hundred runs short?”
“Hot diggity! Indeedily-doodily-do!”
“Yyyyep, moving on…”

Incidentally, “Ned’s three Cs” are: Clean living, chewing thoroughly, and a daily dose of vitamin “church”. Loser.

So – your lookalikes, please.

Incidentally I’ve never really bought the Simpsons thing. I think it’s a bit like Marmite, but not nearly as tasty. I was further put off when I heard Richard, of Richard and Judy “fame”, said it was the best thing since sliced bread; he really is a twit. And continuing this tremendously pointless ramble, I saw him not long ago in a dingy pub in London. He double-parked his Jag outside, rushed in with a face like thunder and stormed to the gents. No sooner had I alerted the entire establishment of a TV personality in our midst – and Richard Madely – than he sprinted out again and flew off in his car.

Here endeth the waffle.

The new generation of umpires

Prolific Patrick – and that’s not his full name – has another interesting article on his blog, this time on Michael Gough, the former Durham batsman-turned-umpire. He’s just 26 and was highly regarded as a young player (he represented England Under-19s) – and is now a first-class umpire, which is an interesting development. Talking to Patrick, he says: “All sports officials are getting younger,” Gough said. “It is no longer for old guys in white jackets.”

Worth a read.

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.