Friday, October 30, 2009

Shapes of things

In the first half of the 1970’s, when the words ‘John Player League winners’ seemed to be a permanent prefix to the county name, we regularly used to go down to Canterbury to watch the mighty Kent deal with their Sunday foes.

One time, Gloucestershire were the visitors. We were ensconced near the old elm tree when, in one over, the sublime Asif Iqbal hit three shots through midwicket, all in our direction. The first stopped just short of the rope and was gamely chased and returned by the fielder Gloucester were hiding at mid – on – David Shepherd. The batsmen took a comfortable three. After a single, Asif hit one there again, and this time they ran four – and then off the next ball he repeated the trick and they might well have run nine had the ball not trickled over the boundary – likewise Shepherd.

Someone stood up and offered him a beer – he looked up, face as purple as the proverbial beetroot, dripping with sweat and, according to the guy whose can it was, polished off most of the can.

It’s an odd thought, that through the typical English obsession with eccentricity, he’ll be remembered, not for being one of the most respected umpires ever, but for standing on one leg.

The Ian Anderson of cricket?

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