The UKIP Shipping Forecast

This is simply brilliant. Caustically written and wonderfully produced:

Notes from the pavilion for October 27th

Religion and politics

“You wouldn’t normally associate cricket with Catholics,” he said after a training session at the Aga Khan ground this week. “It’s more a protestant sport in Northern Ireland. There were always British army troops based in Northern Ireland and Strabane and, perhaps, they would’ve brought it with them. But it’s always had an affection with the locals and it’s been played by all traditions in Strabane.”

That’s what Peter Gillespie, the Ireland allrounder, told me in Nairobi in February. So it was interesting to read this post from an Ireland blogger about his country beating Pakistan and what ramifications it might have.

To a Pakistani, Ireland beating their national team must be a bit like San Marino beating Brazil in soccer. Our national soccer coach was nearly flayed alive (metaphorically) by soccer pundits for nearly drawing against San Marino a few months ago, so I can only imagine what the depth of feeling was in Pakistan when the result came through. That said, our soccer team manager is still alive.. The death of Bob Woolmer in some way underlies the personal emotional turmoil involved when a good team struggles at the top grade.

For Ireland, to have such a success in such an unexpected sport can only be a good thing. It’s quite likely we have a wealth of cricketing talent in the country, as one of our more popular games – hurling – demands very similar skills to cricket. Also, we are beginning to see an easing of the unwritten laws that divided many sports into “Protestant” and “Catholic” games. Such a de-politicisation of sport is very welcome.

“Cricket helped me see the world,” Gillespie said, “but it also helped me see a new outlook – especially growing through a lot of turmoil in Northern Ireland and our town. Cricket was a get-out clause. I was able to get to know all types of different people, backgrounds and religions and it helped me broaden my outlook in general.”

Can cricket, or sport, really depoliticise communities or countries? Recent history has shown cricket, more than most other sports, acts as a victim of politics (last World Cup; Eng/Zim). When has it been the damp cloth, dousing political hot fires? Sorry for the metaphor.

Pakistan and India are a case in point: very nearly at war with one another off the pitch, and definitely in battle when they play cricket. Anyway, just some thoughts. Up the Irish, and all that.

Cricket’s superpowers

I’ve only skim read this, but it looks worthy of reading more closely tomorrow. Reading, disecting and – more than likely – disagreeing with. An article on cricket’s superpowers.

If this were geopolitics, then Australia would be the United States, the one unquestioned superpower for over a decade, used to getting their own way ever since they saw off their rival superpower, the West Indies, in the early 1990s (the West Indian cricket team, like the Russian state, now seems to be in a condition of permanent and rather squalid decline). India, meanwhile, would be China, the superpower of the future, with all the resources needed to beat the Australians at their own game – the manpower, the talent, the raw nationalist passion – so long as a way can be found by their often corrupt and incompetent administrators of harnessing these obvious advantages. And England? England would be the EU: once the centre of the world, but currently engaged in an urgent and not always pretty attempt to modernise in order not to get left behind.

Hat tip: Joe

Alternative commentators

Scooby Doo

As I just mentioned, and I don’t know his name, but this South African commentator really takes the piss. I’m picky when it comes to radio and TV commentary: I want information, but not too much. I want humour, but not too much. I do not want crap, and I do not want commentators who sound like they’ve been to media school – this guy makes Tony Blackburn seem dull.

Therefore, I propose the following alternate voices – from past and present – who could do a better job, and lighten the mood. I’m assuming each one has indepth knowledge of the great game, even though none/few do.

Margaret Thatcher: imagine those husky, oddly masculine tones as she describes a Vaughan cover drive

Dalek: imitating, not replacing, Richie Benaud’s infamous “choo for chwenty choo” (TWO. FOR. TWEN. TEA. TWO)

Tony Blackburn: well why not? Can hardly do anyone worse than Saffer Safferson above.

Scooby/Scrappy Doo: Yikes! It’s a Six, scoobs!

Winston Churchill: “They shall fight on the pavillion roof. They shall fight in the canteen. They shall fight at the wicket, on the boundary, and McGrath will never be surrendered too”

Robert DeNiro: “Are you talkin’ to me?” as Henry Blofeld offers him some cake

This could go on for a bit…so I’ll stop there

Tony Blair destroys cricket pitch

One more reason to VOTE OUT THE GRINNING TWIT: he’s ruined a Milton Keynes cricket pitch. Bastard. Bet he’s never even been to a game. At least John Major was a fan, and has recently been voted in to the MCC committee.

DON’T BE APATHETIC: IF YOU DON’T VOTE, YOU CAN’T COMPLAIN!!!

India and Pakistan healing old wounds

Back in March, I wrote about the distinct possibility of cricket bridging these 2 nuclear countries together – and even the hope of denuclearisation. After Pakistan’s absolutely stunning victory in their ODI series, the final match having been attended by senior government officials from both countries, there is now genuine belief that old wounds are healing.

India's and Pakistan's leaders unite

Manmohan Singh and Pervez Musharraf (Musharraf was in India for the first time since 2001) released a joint statement, including the following agreements:

      set up a joint business council to improve trade
      launch a rail link between the Indian state of Rajasthan and the Pakistani province of Sindh by 1 January 2006
      increase the frequency of the bus service across divided Kashmir launched on 7 April
      allow trucks to use this route to promote trade
      open a new bus link between Poonch in Indian Kashmir and Rawalakot in Pakistani Kashmir
      reopen consulates in Mumbai (Bombay) and Karachi by the end of the year
      begin a bus service between Amritsar and Lahore

Now, I don’t know how much of a part cricket had to play in bringing the two leaders together. But it had some affect, however big or small. It is that which just amazes me – how sport can impact on people’s lives and, seemingly, cricket in particular.

Meanwhile, someone called Mulayam Singh Yadav thinks Indians should not be watching Cricket:

Cricket is not our game, wrestling is. In fact, cricket should not be played at all

I wonder how peace talks would have continued if wrestling became India’s national game…

Cricket – politically correct?

I had to laugh. Watching the highlights of the India v Australia Women’s World Cup Final just now, where Karen Rolton hit a match-winning 107*, she was given the new award of “Player of the match.” Brilliant! What’s wrong with “Woman of the match”? I don’t see what’s wrong with “Man of the match,” but I see why girls would hate it. (my point being that the use of “Man” could constitute “man on earth,” as in homoerectus. i.e. it’s not necessarily specifically a male gender term, it’s a collective term for all human beings).

I used to work for the NHS, and like most massive organisations there’s a whole load of politics. There are also FAR too many women running it, but that’s another story. Anyway, if a meeting is called, it is the Chair who speaks…not the Chairman! I just find all this politically sensitive crap hilarious. (Manhole covers: peoplehole covers, Body Odor: Nondiscretionary fragrance, Bald: Follicularly challenged, “I’m not a liar, I’m just ethically disoriented.” etc etc)

Tony Blair – opening bowler, or middle-order batsman?

Indymedia

Tony Blair could be playing a cricket match in Parliament Square. Well, not likely, but you never know. A website by the name of UK Indymedia have challenged MPs in the Houses of Parliament to a game. They describe themselves as:

” Indymedia UK is a network of individuals, independent and alternative media activists and organisations, offering grassroots, non-corporate, non-commercial coverage of important social and political issues. ”

And their letter to the government follows:

Dear

As a part of the government, and an elected representative of the people of this country we employ you to manage the affairs of our country in an honourable and respectable fashion. To uphold our rights and the rights of people the world over, to act as an ambassador for the people of this country in your dealings with other nations and to place the well being of the people and our surroundings above financial or any other concerns.

As a conscientious member of the public, it is my role to monitor the movements and interactions of the people who represent my fellow citizens and I within government. We are growing alarmed at the manner in which our government is handling our affairs. Time and time again we hear of corporate relationships coming before human or environmental concerns. We hear that our armies are being sent out to protect us from evil, only to later find that we are an occupying army looking out for western oil interests, and the weapons we were told to be afraid of were a figment of the imagination. Next we are told that the original mission was to remove a corrupt dictator, later we find out that we are the ones being dictated to. We hear that we are going to rebuild Iraq after the devastation caused by our forces, only to fund out that this is simply a thin cover to exploit an occupied nations resources for our financial gain. We hear that terrorists are due to strike as they are jealous of our democratic system, only to wake up with draconian laws enforcing us to carry ID cards and banning protest against government anywhere that they may hear it.

This will not do, you are not acting in an honourable fashion.

We the Space Hijackers, hereby challenge you and your fellow Members of Parliament to a game of cricket. We challenge you to show us that your morals and behaviour are fit to govern this country. Prove to us that your support of the Olympic bid was not just more hot air. Prove to us and the rest of the country that you are what you claim to be. Prove it to us on the batting crease.

We look forward to receiving your acceptance or decline of the challenge in the very near future.

A decline of our challenge will be seen by us and the entire British Public as acceptance that you are the morally and honourably corrupt government that we suspect. We shall see you at the pitch.

Yours Sincerely,

On behalf of the Space Hijackers and the greater British Public.

Fantastic – well done them, even if it comes to nothing, bloody good on them. Big question is, though….what will Tony Blair do, where will he bat, and how can the Space Hijackers beamer him and make it appear accidental?

Cricket in politics

John Redwood MP

The people behind the superb FaxYourMp.com have (in the past few weeks/months) launched another one – TheyWorkForYou.com. In it, you can search Hansard for keywords – so naturally I had a look for anyone mentioning Cricket, and here were the findings:

(Stephen Pound) Before I give way, may I give an example? Four years ago, at 1 am, somebody was hammering at my front door. I naturally assumed it was the bailiff. I went down and, with a chain on the door, looked out and found on the doorstep a person in a considerable state of agitation and extremely worried. Fortunately I had a cricket bat to hand, which happened to be propped up in the hall. I do not claim to be as good a cricketer as many Opposition Members, particularly the right hon. Member for Wokingham (Mr. Redwood), but I happened to have a cricket bat handy.

So, for the cricket addicts amongst us (and, yes, it’s obviously only of massive interest if you have interest in UK matters, although Cricket does span countries as this blog and others demonstrate) you can go here and sign up to receive emails whenever cricket is mentioned in Parliament. Fun.