Saturday, October 31, 2009


It’s one of the famous cricket photos – so famous that you really even have to look at it to be able to describe it pretty closely.

To begin with, it's always a colour memory, even though the picture is in black and white. That's down to the TV coverage being in colour – so it's probably the first recognised colour Ashes memory. That may sound odd, but consider. Think of Bradman batting - you think in black and white. Likewise any thoughts you have of Hutton, Miller, Lindwall, Benaud bowling out England in 1961, Trueman's 300th test wicket - all black and white images or snippets of film in the mind. Even after this memory, Ashes thoughts are still in black and white - Snow cuddling the fan at Sydney, Jenner getting beaned - black and white. Things only really started going properly technicolour when Lillian Thompson started flashing her bouncers around – better to see the blood on the wicket I suppose.

Anyway, back to the picture. Underwood has bowled, left arm round (something I watched him do either live or on TV thousands of times)

The fielders are playing ring-a-ring-a-roses around the batsman. Everyone is in shot, apart from the square leg umpire. I can see Colin Cowdrey at first slip (and probably second slip too…) Edrich in the gully, The aforementioned John Snow is at short leg.

Sawdust litters both ends of the wicket – so redolent of circuses, you expect to see a clown’s car go across the pitch, with bits falling off every five seconds. Bearing in mind the MCC committee were in the pavilion at the time picking the side to go to South Africa that winter and thus bringing us the D'olivera affair, 'circus' and 'clowns' are apt images.

The ball has hit the batsman in front – though from the still photo it looks as though Inverarity has been hit on the backside whilst facing point and waving his bat at someone on the boundary at third man...

Deadly is appealing, as is Knotty, and every fielder, including Milburn at square leg – though how the hell he can tell whether it’s out or not is totally beyond me...(A pet hate – indulge me!)

The umpire's finger is going up. I think it was Arthur Fagg - like bowler, keeper and slip, also of Kent and England – no neutral umpires in those days.

Of course, it’s the back story that really makes the picture. After all, England beating Australia at the Oval isn’t a rare occurrence, but we’ll remember this picture for longer than we will the latest incarnation of it, which is Cook catching Hussey a few months back. Even though the Underwood wicket didn’t actually clinch the Ashes, but merely tied the series.

It’s the big clean up that makes this what it is – hundreds of supporters helping Cowdrey dry the wicket. A lake at 3pm, play ready to start less than two hours later.

It couldn’t happen today. Player safety is much more of an issue (remember what happened at OT for a 20/20) Then, rather pathetically, we’re not allowed on the outfield - so some officious jobsworth would probably make the players do it on their own, and finally, and most obviously, it doesn’t need to happen. If some much as a pigeon wees on the pitch the the covers come charging on.

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?

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Andrew Hilditch, the erstwhile 'happy hooker' and now Australia's chief of selectors reckons that their loss this summer gone was simply a 'hiccup'.

A 'hiccup' of the Pete Townsend variety perhaps: -

I stretched back and I hiccupped
And looked back on my busy day

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Bubbling Under

Due entirely to our refusal to ever appear on Top of the Pops, we don't quite make the Top 20 cricket websites run down in the Telegraph. Tone does though.

We do, however, get a nice mention in dispatches - thanks to regular commentor 'AndyBatt' for the testimonial.


As soon as I heard the news about Matthew Hoggard's unceremonious dumping by Yorkshire, I had a deja-vu style flashback to something I'd read years ago about a similar situation involving another ex-Yorkshire international.

I racked both brains and bookshelves, but couldn't find the reference, but now - thanks to the Guardian, here it is -

"John Nash, the Yorkshire secretary, had phoned the previous evening to ask me to go to county headquarters the next day. I had no idea what the meeting was going to be about. I assumed it was some sort of routine matter connected with the team. When I arrived it was a bit of a surprise to find Brian Sellers, The Crackerjack, Mr Yorkshire cricket himself, sat at the end of the table. He looked at me and said 'Well Brian, you've had a good innings.' As soon as he had said that I knew something very funny was going to happen, but I still wasn't prepared for the next bit.

The committee had had a meeting said the chairman. They said my services were no longer required and I had a decision to make whether to resign or be sacked. It happened so swiftly, I had been bludgeoned. Through the blur of battered emotions I heard myself saying 'How long have I got to decide, because I'd like a word with my wife?' 'You've got 10 minutes,' said Sellers. 'Before you leave this office we want to know.'

The full story hasn't come out yet, but Hoggy isn't exactly backward about coming forward (read his autobiography if you need evidence - particularly a revealing insight into what players actually get up to no tour...) so it'll be an interesting read - to say the least.

The Old Batsman has an interesting take on the affair.

Serious point is that Yorkshire have done this to a guy who's been at the county his entire playing career, and who has never given less than 100% when he's been sporting the White Rose. If someone like that can be cast adrift with such limited notice, what about the players at the other end of the spectrum?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Beat on the Brat

With a cricket bat...

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cross Dressing

Thanks to Harry for this thought...

'So, they've added Cook and Saj to the ODI squad. One to give the run rate a shot in the arm, and one to slow it down.'

Thursday, October 08, 2009

"Toto, we're not in Newcastle anymore"

"Over the last three years the idea of Harmison was always so much better than the reality. At his worst he seemed to resemble all three of Dorothy's companions from the Wizard of Oz, a bowler without a brain or a heart, a big ol' cowardly lion of a cricketer."

(Andy Bull, The Guardian 8/10/09)

Friday, October 02, 2009

Spoils of War

The Champions Trophy.

'Champions' of what? Heck, since a rainy evening at Lords last summer, England aren't even champions of Europe.

I suppose you could get all semantic, and say that they are playing for the trophy that currently belongs to the present champions, but if that's the case, then who decided who the original champions were?

Furthermore, in that scenario, 'Champions' needs an apostrophe.

'The Apos Trophy'

Sorry - I'll get my coat...