Pad Men


Cricket has been used by advertisers to sell their stuff for over 100 years. From Bats to Brylcream, Custard Powder, Gaspers and Trades Unions, all of them have lined up to use images of the stars of the day, the role models and heroes of the time, to product promote. Of course, Saatchi’s aren’t exactly bursting a lung to get at the England players at the moment, (although I understand Ex-lax and Nytol are in negotiations with the MCC).

So in lieu of anything else, here’s a Roland Butcher’s at some of the ads and artwork of great (and not-so-great) Cricket Ads.

1974 Stuart Surridge A283 1977 Tony Greig St Peter 1977 Tooheys 1 AP997-birds-custard-boy-playing-cricket

BP182-brylcreem-hairdresser-cricket-1950s

63809 38974-wn Press ad cricket 1932 _VIM_9_3_3_72_ StateLibQld_1_91556_Advertisment_for_Bulimba_Gold_Top_beer,_Queensland 2cf197159daf84838bb8bbd2f8559d3d

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It’s the old 26-1-26-2 Formation


Last night’s Season Finale of I’m Scared of Fast Bowling, Get me Out of Here brought to a predictable close another in a long line of less than heroic sporting disasters. I’ve been going to The Valley, SE7 to gawp at Charlton Athletic FC ‘play’ football since 1977 (see elsewhere in these pages) and the sight of one side running rings around another, like adults versus kids, is not an unusual one for me.

So as you sit back and watch the following clip, try to picture CAFC vrs Tottenham, or even one of the big sides like Stoke. This is how it is for us every week.

(And for those of you watching in black and white, Charlton Athletic are in the red.)

OBIT: Bye Bye, Love


tt_image_791421Al Cook, (29 August 2012 — 7 January 2013), of the Not Very Cleverly Brothers died here, again, at the SGC, Australia.

He will be best remembered for the chart-toppers :“Bye Bye Match, Bye Bye Captaincy”; “Wake Up, Middle Order”; “Swann Dog”; “Andy’s Clown”; and “All I have to do is Bat“.

Cook is survived by 15 loyal band members.

And Graeme Swann .

 

SAADVVVERT

The Freemantle Doctor Will See You Now.


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“But Grandfather, you have read the London Times. How bad do they say it was?”
“So bad, my boy, that they are even considering recalling Ravi Bopara !”

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The Barmy Army watch patiently at an England net session at The Paul Hogan Academy Ground, Perth

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After a couple of overs knock-about at the WACA, and having let Mike Atherton study the ball for a while, hopes are high of reverse swing for the English.

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Other former MCC captains are drafted in to help improve the morals of the team, but not all seem to be concentrating on cricket.

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The Tourists seek clarification of the LBW, using local knowledge

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Meanwhile back in the nets, Joe Root tries to unravel the mystery of the Australian non-spinning off break bowling which has winkled out so many. (“WINKLED !!! fnarrr fnarrrr,” squeals young Joe) …

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…Stuart Broad strives to perfect his now legendary “Stick the ball down the throat of the only fielder on the boundary” shot. (Apologies for no live footage from Channel 9. So here’s a filer of Stuart developing the shot back at Hogwarts during the 1990s)…

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…while Ian Bell treats himself to a haircut before the next battle. Spiffing.

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Completely coincidentally, Dr Who (50th Birthday Box set Edition now available from BBC Online) sends a message of support to the traveling Englishmen (other bandwagons are available)…

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…and possibly the last man to be transported from the mother country arrives in Oz, and is immediately asked if he fancies opening. He doesn’t. (NB: Fawad Ahmed fielding at 2nd slip, having had his application for English Citizenship accepted).

Root and Tim Bresnan accept a cigarette but, bravely, decline a blindfold, before the last rites are administered on the English batting line-up

A Funny Thing Didn’t Happen on the Way to the Forum


When the moon hits your eye
Like a big pizza pie
You’re Pissed

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In the background, the massive Mt Vesuvius, an active volcano which erupts, on average, every 50 years. In the foreground the massive Mike Bealing, an inactive 48 year old who’s trousers erupt, on average, every 24 hours, plus a matinee on Saturdays. (Baseball cap courtesy of Small Boy Fashions inc, Sorrento.)

Those few of you who take an interest in these things, and who glean all sorts of delight in the numerous mishaps which befall me every time I rub shoulders with my fellow European Citizens will be amazed, if not a little disappointed, that our Italian Campaign passed without incident. Almost.

But like so many things — Ben Elton’s funny period or a solid stool — it all seems to be a distant memory…

(queue harp)…………

We arrived in Sorrento on a bright, hot September morning. The place was buzzing. An enormous cruise ship had relieved itself of its cargo of fat American pensioners, making it nigh on impossible to purchase any over-priced beer, linen or lemon-based products, try as I might. Rumour has it the Costa Concordia flipped over when a couple from Wisconsin leant over the rails to feed the seagulls. I don’t believe this. I think they were trying to eat the birds. So, taking their lead, we settled down to the first in a series of pizza & ice cream snacks, enjoyed the hot September sun and decided we’d chosen the right spot for our first break in a while.

It’s not what you’d call a beach resort, and my eyes lit up when I discovered there was only one ‘disco’ in town, and that was at the other end of town. I would just have to put up with great food & wine and a lack of boozed-up bastards from Barnsley and Bournemouth wrecking the town every night. That’s not to say that the Brits aren’t catered for. There is a “English Inn” on the main street, right opposite an Oirish Bar (both doing a ‘Full English and Guinness on tap”) which, for the most part The Incumbent and I gleefully avoided. For the most part.

Slow Cooked Water Buffalo enjoying his meal.

A large portion of Water Buffalo enjoying his dinner.

For most of our stay, the sun shone, the booze flowed and the food arrived by the skip load. But we weren’t the only ones enjoying a regular bite. So were the mozzies. If there is one breed of animal that The Incumbent attracts more than Neapolitan handbag salesmen it’s mosquitos.  Every morning we would idle away a couple of hours counting up and applying ointment to the previous evenings mozzie bites. She even got bitten on the verandah, which brought tears to her eyes. After a while, the critters had had their fill of the missus, and started on my extremities.

In an attempt to put off these little bastards, we’d brought from Blighty an industrial-sized tube of Deet insect repellant. I would carry it around in my pocket when we went out for a stroll of an evening — or at least I did until a passing scouser pointed at this long bulge in my pocket and decided to ask his cap-tee’d mates if they could see the size of “that fat bloke’s knob end ?” We continued our promenading activities at pace, diving into the nearest Trattoria for our seventh meal of the day. As the insect repellant was with us (though sadly we were out of scouser repellant) we decided to apply another layer as we waited for the menu. The whiff was overpowering, and I extinguished the table candle as a precaution. She needed me to cover her shoulder blades in the stuff, and I made sure I had some Deet for my Feet (Sugar for my Honey). I wanted the fish, which was something of a speciality around those parts. The waiter arrived and I ordered in my best Engtalian “Carbonara for bonna Signora, and oh, Sole mio”. It was all he could do not to spit at me.

They brought us whisky, and gin and beer… I’ll leave you to fill in the blanks. Though they didn’t get to play with my 4 x 2.

But please don’t get the impression that all we did was sit around and eat. No, no, no. That was only 85% of the time. We went on day trips too. No visit to the area would be complete with a visit to Pompeii. It’s really worth a visit, if only to escape the endless piped Opera music (if you’ve ever been to the West Indies and suffered Bob Marley overdose, you’ll understand when I say I never want to hear Caruso again. Neither him nor his Man Friday).

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Us at the Forum, Pompeii. Proof positive that there is an upper age limit, beyond which it is impossible to take a decent selfie.

But the ruins of the once thriving city, sadly lost to the world in 79AD due to the huge eruption of nearby Vesuvius. Our guide Paula, pronounced PouWla, was a local girl who had clearly grown up on a heady diet of Benny Hill Shows and Bunga Bunga parties. She was a fag paper away from snorting fnarr fnarr as she concentrated and pointed out to us each and every “Three Dee Willee” on the road or on the walls. These protruding pointing penises might, she mused, have indicated the position of a brothel, or historians now think Pompeii residents could have used the phallus images as a protection against evil spirits. (Tonight, try getting your willy out in front of your missus and telling her it’s for her own protection. It doesn’t work — believe me.)

What would have been much more interesting would have been if she had told us about the popularity of cricket in this ancient roman metropolis. I myself saw clear evidence of a thriving cricket culture in existence. Who knows? If it hadn’t been for the devastation of the volcano, Italian cricket might now rival that of Australia, or perhaps even one of the major Test-playing nations ?

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(l) The Author gives his pitch report at the Pompeii Oval (a dusty one which was bound to spin on the 4th day) while recreating a Roman sight screen; (r) The remains of the scorecard to the match which was abandoned by eruption. Reg made 15 in the 1st innings. No record has been found of who was bowling at the time.

My exclusive and World’s-1st discovery of the Pompeii Ageas Oval was, as you can imagine, pretty much the highlight of the tour. There was of course the time in Napoli itself. We travelled there by boat, and on our arrival at Naples docks, two Australians with placards were shouting “Send the Boats Back”. We assumed they were lost. Later we sat outside a cafe in one of the less salubrious parts of the city (as opposed to all the many, many, lovely areas….er…) chugging away on bottles of Peroni and listening to Funiculi, Funicula for the 28th time that day. A grin burst across The Incumbent’s face as she watched and listened to the two rather vocal young women behind me.

I hadn’t realised these girls were of the working variety and that every tourist, workman or delivery boy who walked past were treated to the sight of them pulling down the lurex boob tubes and flashing their gnocchi. The going rate was, apparently, “10”. We didn’t hang around to find out if that was Euros or Lira: I glanced over my shoulder and it was a terrifying sight. It was clear to me that at least one of these birds was once christened as a geezer and those chicken fillets he was waggling at the lads were new additions to her being, (matching nicely with her adams apple which was the size of The Vatican). Any version of Funiculi, Funicula  playing once he/she got a victim back to her/his gaff would be merely to accompany him being mashed, bashed and slammed on the floor. Speaking for myself I’d rather hold it in my hand.

It could truly be a case of see Nipples & Die. (© National Joke museum 1923).

Naples: Bust of "Gaveen" —patron Saint of Big Noses.

Naples: Bust of “Gaveen” — Italian Patron Saint of Big Noses.

Enough with the Soccer Already


They say that every time an accountant is born, an angel dies. Or something like that. Well I’d like to add to and improve that well-worn phrase. How about “Every time the Football Season starts before the end of the cricket season or most people have taken their summer holidays, a puppy loses its ears”? Ok, it may be not quite as sweet or catchy as the original, but you get my meaning.

The People's Game returns

Ahhhh….The People’s Game returns

Yes, unbelievably (although someone writes this every year) the cries of “onmeeadsun” and “backdoorbackdoor” could be heard throughout the land this weekend, and not just from the open windows at Catholic Church Boys homes. The minor English divisions took to the field/pitch, whatever they call it on Planet Sky TV this season, and play was resumed as usual. Charlton Athletic lost, as usual, and youngsters in English streets had a kickabout inbetween cars and fell over for no apparent reason, imitating their heroes.  Lads in Scotland, who were fortunate enough not to be in the charge of the local priest, played fitba in the park in the style of their own local heroes: ran around in front of three bored (yet aggressive) bigoted onlookers, had no proper goalies and all went into administration afterwards.

And yet up in the Third World, the Manchester Third Test is still grinding to a halt, as is cricket’s wont. There are still two huge matches to come in this current cricket season. There are still 11 days of Aussie whingeing, England cheating and Deaf Dumb & Blind umpiring (Jimmy: Sure Bowls a Mean Short Ball) but you’d get good odds on Roman Abramovich sacking this week’s manager down at Chelski before Alastair Cook has taken his pads off for the winter.

Reculver - Twinned with Syria's Homs

Reculver – Twinned with Syria’s Homs

The Incumbent and I have yet to take ourself away on our our annual family summer trip to Reculver, and yet the pies and bovril are being re-heated at football grounds all over the country and I’ve yet to oil myself up and squeeze my slight frame into the newly-purchased 38″ Union Jack speedos (Matalan, 3 pairs for a fiver!).

I know it’s a plea that will fall on deaf eyes, a request which, like my application to be the new Dr Who, will remain ignored until Gallifrey freezes over, but is there any way that fitba, football, or even soccer can remain a winter pastime, so the rest of us can enjoy uninterrupted coverage of the Test Match series, the Croquet Season and our buckets & spades, at least until late September ?

No, I thought there wasn’t.

The Cricket Umpire, By R.L.Stevenson (wkt)


From the vaults of The Sharp Single we bring you a long-forgotten passage and the original plate from a first edition of Treasure Island where the author describes a cricket match taking place outside the Admiral Benbow Inn.

(This chapter was removed from subsequent editions.)

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“He was plainly blind for he tapped before him with a stick, and wore a great green shade over his eyes and nose; and he was hunched, as if with age or weakness, and wore a huge old tattered sea-cloak with a hood, which made him appear positively deformed.

No-one knew his real name, most referring to him simply as ‘Blind Hill’. The reason for his disability had been lost in the mists of time. Some say he copped a short one to the temple on a green-top at Hove, while representing Minor Counties East. Others that a New South Wales seamer poked his eyes out during a Sheffield Shield game when, as the standing umpire, he turned down a plumb LBW.

Nowadays he trudged between the wicket and square leg, refusing to raise his finger, preferring to issue the Black Spot to any poor, unfortunate soul unlucky enough to nick off to the keeper.

Once he received the Black Spot a batsman had a mere 15 seconds to plead for his life. Clemency was infrequently shown”

Have a Go Ya Mug


When I were a lad, fearsome fast bowlers who came over here used to look like this…

92711or occasionally like this…

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They used to have odd actions…

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…and even odder facial hair…

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…and they always smiled, even (or especially) when they were about to knock your block off…

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…and if they couldn’t bowl you out, they’d punch you out…

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…(no changes there, then, I suppose ?)…

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…but the old bowlers would set fields like this…main-qimg-03aa4b03ad7f42586966f46d9cf48df2

…and they were all very scary indeed.

Nowadays, if someone scary turns up to bowl…

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…the image men get hold of him and make him look like a nice boy. They don’t scare anybody.

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…I mean really ! who’d be scared of these two ?

It wouldn’t have happened back then, they didn’t care about coming across as nice blokes…

dennis_lillee_6_600_400-600x400…but sometimes nowadays you tend to think that some boards regard the image of their attack bowlers above their substance or ability — like these guys  Sidders, Starckers, Patters and Rolfy…

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There are always those who tend to go a little over board, of course, even for the marketing men…

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SO C’MON, AUSSIE, FOR CHRIST SAKE. LET’S SHOW A BIT OF GRIT.  MAKE  A GAME OF IT — OR YOU MAY AS WELL HAVE BOUGHT THAT OTHER MITCHELL WITH YOU (STARKERS OR NOT).

HAVE A GO YA MUG !

Spofforth, Scorecards and Sticky Wickets,


John Arlott and Ralph Richardson from 1950. A little gem covering everything you wanted to know about The Ashes and cricket. No, much more than that, madam.

17 mins, 20 secs of pure heaven. Enjoy.