I Don’t Like Cricket… I Love It….

cricket ground

While I can’t say that I recommend the rest of the lyrics of 10cc’s ‘Dreadlock Holiday’ that one line sums up my feeling for the game….and for the expression of that feeling, running from expertise to sheer tomfoolery, of those who also love it.

For those whose picture of England is coloured by John Major’s 1990s description of long shadows on county grounds, warm beer…..dog lovers….and Orwell’s old maids bicycling to Holy Communion through the mists of an autumn morning, may I present another more contemporary image of the cricket lover, made by a gentleman named Kim Thonger who contributed his mite to ‘The Guardian’s over by over coverage of the First Test between India and England.

“I’m sitting outside Waitrose with the dog, listening to TMS through my hearing aid while SWMBO potters inside. When Stokes got Kohli I leapt into the air and now there’s a clutch of senior citizens eyeing me very strangely. I think one of them has called an ambulance for me.”

For the furriners among us, a glossary.

Waitrose. A supermarket chain which caters to those who consider Marks and Spencer ready meals to be downmarket.

TMS. Test Match Special, the ball by ball commentary on international cricket matches provided by BBC radio, staffed by people whose names are often given the suffix ‘ers’ – thus, Phil Tufnell, ‘Tuffers’, Henry Blofeld, ‘Blowers’, Jonathan Agnew, ‘Aggers’. The latter might have been called Johnners had that not been the soubriquet of a much loved and now deceased commentator called Brian Johnston, himself the originator of the ‘ers’.

Let it here be noted that Mr. Thonger has a dachshund, called, inevitably, Dakkers.

SWMBO. She Who Must Be Obeyed, from the white goddess/queen in Rider Haggard’s She’. Here,  as played by Ursula Andress – an actress whose name is often misspelled for some reason.

SWMBO is an alternative way for men to refer to their wives – though not, it seems, to their significant others  – and may derive from John Mortimer’s barrister character Horace Rumpole who, in respect of his wife Hilda, remarks gloomily that murder and matrimony both carry a mandatory life sentence.

hilda Rumpole

Stokes is a much tattooed chap who plays for England, except that he will be missing the next match as he will be on trial for alleged assault outside a nightclub. Perhaps he should have considered that the downside of tattoos is that they make one easily identifiable by the police.

‘Got’ here refers to the fact that he bowled, as opposed to allegedly assaulting,

Kohli, India’s captain, whose talent as a batsman almost matches his ego and who, in this context, had been making too many runs to please Stokes and his team mates.

I am aware that the glossary raises as many supplementary questions as it proposes answers, but that it the nature of the beast.

Just try getting your heads round examples offered by cricket lovers for everyday phrases as titles for dark thrillers….

A Tickle To Leg…There Was A Noise…First Slip…Chin Music…The Corridor of Uncertainty…It Reared Sharply Off A Length…The Wrong’Un….Deep Cover…The Man Who Was Mankaded…Whispering Death…

You’ll need more than a glossary for that lot…

So what is it that makes people…me included…sit up all night to hear a radio commentary on Test matches in Australia, New Zealand or Sri Lanka? We have not been able to watch cricket on TV unless forking out for a Sky subscription since the ECB sold the nation’s heritage for a bowl of baingan bharta. in 2006.

Glossary…ECB, England and Wales Cricket Board, not to be be confused with the European Central Bank even though both are staffed by people living in a fantasy world where you generate money in order to fritter it on mad schemes.

It is because we can see in our mind’s eye that which once we saw with the two others…the grace of a batsman who uses the bowler’s speed or spin against him…the art of the slow bowler spinning his webs to deceive….the thrill of a great fast bowler…

If you can bear the slow start, do take a look at this video of David Gower…a slight man, he uses the speed of the ball to send it to the boundary, seemingly effortlessly and with supreme elegance.


And just look at the peerless Larwood…perfect balance and speed

The matches, the players, the history, the enthusiasts….the ups and the downs….and, this year there is something special to celebrate.

The Scottish cricket team beat the English in a One Day International…it is 1314 all over again!


51 thoughts on “I Don’t Like Cricket… I Love It….”

  1. I admit to never having watched or listened to a cricket match, and never having had any desire to do so. The nearest I got was as a 6-year-old bowling to my father in Bushey Park.

    However, if offered a choice between cricket and soccer, it would be no contest, cricket would win hands down.

    Despite that lack of interest, I very much enjoyed your post, and have one odd cricketing phrase to add. I have never understood it nor tried to discover its meaning, but whenever the subject of cricket crosses my mind, inevitably “silly mid off” accompanies it. 🙂

  2. Cricket?
    How can anyone from Ardrossan ike cricket?
    And tell your friends it’s ‘FOOTBALL.’
    Can’t these yankees speak proper like?

  3. Blame the Australian grandfather…mother’s side.
    Father would watch the Ashes to see Australia beat England – as they usually did, but only for that reason…though he would have watched a tiddlewinks competition on the same basis.
    I think they have something called football in the U.S….great nancies in suits of armour poncing about…so i suppose they call the great game as played in Scotland soccer to distinguish between the two…

    1. I think they have cricket tournaments at the Philadelphia club…why not take a look?
      J. Barton King was a top rate cricketer from Philadelphia who toured England with an American side in the early 1900s…

    2. Seems to be reviving in the USA, but there is a split between rival governing bodies which means that neither gets recognition from the ‘International Cricket Council so don’t get visiting international teams.

  4. Not a dedicated follower of the game (I have been heard to liken it to paint drying!), I do like a polite country game, on a pretty English green in good English summer weather.
    Thanks for the Yorkshire haka. “I’ll s’thee” always remind me of Freddie T.

  5. It’s clearly the “in” sport. Incomprehensible. Interminable. Infuriating. I spent a week watching it one day and will never, ever make that mistake again. You may keep your sticky wicket.😀

  6. I have enjoyed cricket since the enthusiasm first of my Dad and then my husband. We were watching the Test the other day and comment was made on the antics in the crowd dressed up as Jailbirds and ‘policemen’. Over the years the audience profile has changed along with the various forms of the game. My dad’s generation would be wearing a collar and tie to watch!

    1. Certainly has! I can’t remember bare torsos at a match either…but that was before climate change!
      I rather like the fancy dress days…didn’t they have Kim il Jong and his henchmen at this one? And the men dressed as bananas…

  7. Ahhhhh! Glorious, graceful, elegant Gower! Since coming to Turkey I’ve missed being able to watch on tv whilst listening to TMS – it pains me to see reminders like this. On a slightly different tack Janet is from Yorkshire and like all Yorkshireites fancies herself with a bat (and still does!). I used to turn my arm over and had a fair bit of speed so we were natural-born sledging opponents. She scorned pads despite the boniest shins in christendon (sic) she did what all boring Yorkshire batsmen have done throughout history – blocked, turned, left and stayed there. Not once, despite the odd beamer, did she waver. I brought the bat and the ball with me to Turkey 20+ years ago and one day . . one day . .

  8. Give up,Alan, you’ll never get through a Yorkshire defence…at least, not with the ball…
    And a beamer to boot…you are no gentleman….
    I miss being able to watch cricket…and do you notice that the videos all concentrate on the hugging and high fiving after a wicket has fallen rather than on the cricket itself.

    1. You are right – I’ve got older and slowed whilst she (damn her eyes) has grown older and still occupies the crease! As for any videos, I’m reduced to watching the ‘best of’ on YouTube now and again. There was a time when the tv sat package we have used to have an Indian sports channel which was almost exclusively cricket interspersed with an advert by Durex of people dressed up as sperm in a giant condom which was certainly more entertaining than watching a Yorkshire batsman (or woman)!

  9. I used to watch every game when we lived in S.A. I so miss it here, and no we refuse to pay a fortune to Sky! We also used to get to watch live games regularly as the company Nigel worked for had a very smart ‘Box’ at Wanderers in Johannesburg. A pub, and lunches, the whole lot 🙂 I find it difficult to listen on the radio I really need to see what is going on and I sorely miss watching, although I get a lot done on other jobs because I cannot watch!!!
    Take care, all the very best to you both, Diane

    1. I would dearly love to see a proper match again and had hoped to book for the Rosebowl when visiting mother this summer…but the visit has had to be cancelled as Leo is not well enough to be left.
      With TMS I can see in my mind’s eye what is going on…but some commentators are better than others at giving you the picture. I particularly like Alison Mitchell and wish she was broadcasting more often.
      Hop the heat dies down soon at your end, it must be exhausting.

  10. Sorry to hear about Leo, it must be difficult for both of you. A little cooler here today and windy, the latter makes such a difference!

  11. I could never get excited about cricket. I had to play cricket at school and found it excruciatingly boring. Most sport leaves me cold, except gymnastics, which I could watch for hours.

    No Waitrose in Northern Ireland. We have to slum it with M&S ready meals, and hope the neighbours don’t notice our embarrassing purchases.

    1. You have to take brown paper bags in which to hide them….
      I’m not keen on sport in general, just cricket and rugby….school put me off netball and hockey for life

  12. Hah – I wondered if, or when, we’d get to Scotland. The Memsahib (aka ‘Head Office) hails from those parts and, after swooning, had to be given a crash-course in how cricket works after that result. Which, given that I know slightly more about 10CC, was an interesting 5 minutes… Wonderful, wonderful post – made me smile a lot; thank you! And it’s pub night – so I’m smiling even more now…

  13. I should have commented before, but reading the title only serves to remind me that after a lifetime of hearing cricket burbling away on the radio in the background, I still have no idea of how it is even played let alone who anyone is. I don’t seem to have the kind of mind which retains that sort of information. Thanks for reminding me of Rumpole. Must find him on YOutube.

  14. I do the same with the Australian tennis open because I can’t find it on any TV station I have access to. Watching (ie listening) to tennis whilst lying down seems all wrong when Nadal or Murray are slogging it out on the court

  15. My grandfather played cricket for Throsk (a tiny village near Stirling). There was a navy munitions depot and the village was MOD property with a fairly large English contingent. As a result it operated like an English village; hence the cricket. AlI the kids used to play on the big grass rollers. I did however enjoy the teas!

    Never mind 10CC – my mum had an old 78 by the West Indies cricket team singing “Cricket Lovely Cricket”. I believe it refers to this: http://www.espncricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/251196.html

    I will leave you with the cricket commentating faux pas attributed to the commentator Brian Johnson when he allegedly said: “The bowler’s Holding, the batman’s Willey. Unfortunate that I remembered that.

    1. I think I know where Throsk is…I grew up in Stirling, leaving when I was seven when my father left his regimental post for a job in what was then the War Office.
      You would never have caught my father playing cricket…he just used to enjoy watching Australia thrashing England in the Ashes…
      I know that song well….’those two little pals of mine…’
      Those TMS faux pas are super….do you know the legover one?

      1. Um…sent a reply to yours from my own blog but it seems to have…gone elsewhere. Let me know if it turns up in an inappropriate place. So, just in case it doesn’t make it…

        Don’t know the legover one. I’m afraid my cricket humour is limited to that one alleged comment (there was never any proof it was said on-air). So did your father have an exotic role in the War Office…the sort if he told you what he did he would have to shoot you? Hmm…maybe I just made that question irrelevant…you still being alive and all.

        1. You think ‘I’m alive?
          After a day’s major shopping in San Jose dodging the streets occupied by those enjoying the national strike against the proposed government budget and then dealing with and packing away the goods I feel at least half dead.
          Here’s the legover…

          It might work…..
          Father was, shall we say, interesting…..

    1. Still in the land of the living, but somewhat occupied with mother ill in England and Leo ill here, together with resurgence of the local water wars…and now the joy of diluvian rains which have destroyed the road to town via the bridge…

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