One English summer many years ago, I was fortunate enough to go with my mum and dad on a caravan holiday to Recluver, a resort perched on the banks of the Thames Estuary. It’s on the Kentish Riviera. Apparently. This was the stretch of the estuary where Barns Wallace and the RAF tested the Bouncing Bomb for the Dambusters raid. If they’d have ever strayed with their bomb aiming devices they were in danger of hitting Reculver itself, at risk of causing at least 7 Bob’s worth of damage. The wind never got up much past a Force 8, and the temperatures hovered around the 10° mark. Fahrenheit.
The rain came down at an obtuse angle and our static caravan was parked between two others. One was occupied by a family from Rhyl who’d come down to try electricity for themselves and to see if the streets of Kent really were paved with bricks; and the other was rim-full with a bunch of soccer fans from Leeds who like mooning out of the window and came complete with their own, hand-designed, hand-carved tattoos on their necks.
There was one concrete shower block with no hot running water. Or cold. The amusement Arcade was closed for refurbishment. A sign in the window said it would re-open in 1974. That had already been and gone a few years back. The corner shop didn’t sell sweets. I was too young to smoke No. 6 and they wouldn’t serve me a can of Ind Coope Long Life pale ale.
For the 6 days we were there, the only entertainment to be had was watching a game (of sorts) taking place on the mud and shingle beach. In lieu of anything interesting to do, and while Dad sensibly went fishing for prime Kentish River Sewage, I went down with my mum to watch it.
A football tournament had been arranged. It was for the over 57 years olds from the surrounding villages and institutions, 14-a-side, with 3 goalies per team and 4ft wide goals. 3 hours each-way and using a medicine ball as a football.
Sadly only two teams had entered, so for 6 days (and often nights) the same two teams played each other for the right to meet each other in the final at the end of the week. Throughout the round-robin stages of the tournament, there was everything to play for, seeing as each of the 8 matches (they played as Home and Away) had ended up in a thrilling 0-0 draw. Lots were drawn to decide who’d go thru to the semis, and then the final.
Sadly for me, the final was played on the afternoon we were coming home, so I never got to know who won. As we left, it was nil- nil and they were playing Golden Goal injury time. If you’re ever driving down the Thanet way, take a look for me will you ?: They’re probably still playing.
Anyway, I tell you this because all of the above was still a more pleasurable experience, was more interesting and entertaining than watching Test Cricket in India. It’s the dullest thing since my marriage (for starters, my marriage was over quicker than this current innings). This opener of a scheduled four 5-Day Test matches illustrates finally why Test Match cricket in India is dying a death. Why the locals are more interested in 20-20, driving at speed on the wrong side of the road, and working for Virgin Media at a call centre. Anything would be preferable to this. Cricket is often described as a contest between bat and ball. This is a contest between bat and boredom. The ball ain’t in it. Even if (and when) the English get skittled for less than 100 – the pace of this game is glacial. No wonder the pyjama game is king on the sub-continent.
If anyone ever offers you two free flights to India, with two tickets to watch Test cricket at Ahmedabad for Five days, all hotels and meals included, do yourself a favour – book yourself in to a static caravan in Reculver. You’ll thank me later (and take your boots, just in case).
Every time I post something here about cricket someone (usually a crumpet-type person) whines that cricket stories are boring and that, anyway, no-one understands the game.To save me from (again) pointing out the name of the fucking blogsite, which is one reason there aren’t a lot of fashion tips or recipe ideas here, I present the following which I hope will be useful to the few of you still living in blissful ignorance.
Please note that there are only 7 rules to cricket, the batsman and the bowler wear protective gear, and you must run having hit the ball. Oh and India will win the game, which is pretty much the case. Apart from that, I think I know less about the game than I did before I watched this rather dreadful video.
But hopefully this will explain the game a bit more to the women, Americans and Scotchmen among you. Enjoy.
I love computer generated spam comments. You’d be amazed how many I get here. Some of them make a lot more sense than most of the inane drivel you lot write. But not always:
This just in from either a computer in an estate agents office in the Punjab, or a very confused person with a passion for sad old fat blokes with facial hair problems (in which case I apologise but I’m already taken). Or else it really is someone who believes that this blog promotes women and women’s issues. Bless their pretty little heads.
Real estate chandigarh
In Response to : One for the Ladies
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So if I ever want to buy property in Chandigarh , I’m in. I just need to make sure I comb my mullet and dig out that ski jacket. Please feel free to bombard them with your own jibberish emails. Bruce and Trev, you’re pretty good at those.
Dear friends and others
After what seems like only 10 months at The Times, Mr Murdoch and I have decided to part company (though I don’t think he knows it yet. He’ll doubtless be distraught when he finds out). My last day here will be Friday June 4th, after which I shall be sat on my arse at home watching the World Cup and Test Cricket.
So this is just a quick note to say bye-bye to those with whom I’ve worked here, and hello to all you out there who might wanna employ me in future (oh come on ! surely?) My mobile should remain the same, if I can get the bastards to give me my PAC code.
Keep in touch, it’s been a blast. Honest.
Soon Not-to-be Features Picture Editor
Mike is available for wakes, strikes, global recessions, individual depressions, international financial slumps, natural disasters, acts of God, play-off humiliations, county court judgements, redundancy settlements, post-mortems, political carve-ups, serial killings and weddings. Standard network rates apply. Calls from mobiles will be higher.
I can’t better this today. Graeme Swann rules.
From The Times September 24, 2009
India coach encourages sex before matches.
Richard Hobson, Deputy Cricket Correspondent, Johannesburg
It used to be said that sexual intercourse close to a sporting event sapped energy. But India’s players have been advised otherwise in a confidential document written by their coach that effectively tells them to boost their performances on the field by hopping into action off it.
The four-part paper written by Gary Kirsten, who has helped India to become the leading one-day side in the world, became the talk of the Champions Trophy yesterday as a taboo subject was thrust into the open. The relevant chapter is headlined “Does sex increase performance?” and the answer is explicit: “Yes it does, so go ahead and indulge.”
Kirsten’s reasoning is that sex increases levels of testosterone, which leads to greater strength, aggression and competitiveness. “Conversely, not having sex for a period of a few months causes a significant drop in testosterone levels in both males and females, with the corresponding passiveness and decrease in aggression,” he writes.
Andrew Strauss, the England captain, was caught unawares when an Indian television reporter asked him directly about “sexual practices” within the squad. “I don’t think it has come up in any of our dossiers ever,” Strauss, oblivious to his own double entendre, said. “I am not sure it is likely to either.”
Graeme Swann described the idea of more sex as “the kind of forward thinking the game needs”. The England bowler said: “I assume he [Kirsten] does not mean within the team. Wives and partners must be involved. If they [the ICC] want to make the game more exciting, fly in the wives and girlfriends or other parties to improve the standard of cricket.”
Mike Hussey, the Australia batsman, was more rueful. “I have been away from home for four months so I reckon I’ve forgotten how to do it,” he said. Hussey may, then, be interested in the part of the document that reads: “If you want sex but do not have someone to share it with, one option is to go solo whilst imagining you have a partner, or a few partners, who are as beautiful as you wish to imagine. No pillow talk and no hugging required. Just roll over and go to sleep.”
Advice is also that enforced celibacy affects performance. “You may experience that your mind spends more time focusing on the fire in your groin than on good sport practice, preparation and sleep,” the dossier says.
Dispersed to all 15 members of the squad, it quotes Tim Noakes, a professor and sports scientist at the University of Cape Town, as saying: “Sex was not a problem, but being up till 2am, probably having a few drinks at a bar while trying to pick someone up, on the eve of a game, almost always was.”
And it seems like the perfect opportunity to listen to this again:
I have a confession to make: I have a second home, and I’ve never declared it. It’s 400 yards from my place of work and , according to Google Maps (I’ll show you the photos, if you’d like), is only 5.6 miles from my first home. I SAY I’ve never declared it though many people know it’s my second home— I just haven’t declared OFFICIALLY that it’s my second home. I’m worried I’m going to get in trouble.
No-one TOLD me I couldn’t have a second home when I signed up for this job, I’ve always had one wherever I’ve worked, so I naturally assumed… AND it’s got Toxic Assets (well, the Lager’s particularly rank most nights). I’ve gone all Tony McNulty about it: Indignant, apologetic, pig-headed and red-faced, all at the same time. It’s a good trick if you can do it. I’d like it on record, though, that I haven’t been in there since Friday evening. So that’s ok then, isn’t it? Unlike McNulty, who appears to make money out of his second house, all I seem to do is spend tons of cash in mine. 3 pound 20 for a pint of Guinness! How the hell can you make a profit on that? At least I use mine regularly, which is more than you can say for him.
I may (probably not) stop going in there altogether, once I take delivery of my new Nano. No, not an mp3 player, it’s the world’s cheapest car, launched today out of India. For around 1,400 of your English Pounds you can drive away your very own Nano, which bears a marked resemblance to a motorized bread-bin, and is about as quick (0-60 in 23 seconds). The manufacturer , Tata (which is what you can say to your street-cred once you get in one) says it’ll do 47 miles-per-gallon. WHO CARES???? I’d rather get on the back of one of those cycle-rickshaws driven by some git in a santa hat and who pedals in 1st gear all the way. At least I’d have some Vitamin G in me to numb me on my way home.
I’m off now to shout foul, racist abuse at ethnic minorities in front of a CCTV camera. Hopefully I’ll get a contract with Max Clifford, make a fitness video and, when I finally snuff-it, will be loved and mourned by millions the world over.
Spring has sprung,
Da grass has riz,
I wonder where da boidies is?
Da little boids is on da wing,
Ain’t that absoid,
Da little wings is on da boid.
There’s something different about this morning. It maybe that, for the first time this year, I’m able to sit in my garden with a cup of tea without the fear of losing several digits to frostbite. It may be that the new European Champions at Rugby Union are Ireland. (4th place. FOURTH!! How d’ya like THEM leeks?). It may even be that the blue tits in my garden (no, nothing to do with the cold weather) seems to at last be taking an interest in one of the several bird boxes I nailed up over the winter months.
But no, there’s a spring in my step this morning because yesterday IT arrived, just as he promised it would. It came in the post yesterday morning (well, lunchtime—my postie likes his lie-ins nowadays) and was accompanied by a piece of paper on which he’d written “Drool Away”. “He” is my long-time pal Andrew, and “it” is my ticket for the first day of the Lords Test Match against the Australians this July. YES.
I can hear monocles flying out all over Tunbridge Wells, teacups smashing in the Garrick, and a million expletives uttered under a million breaths as a large proportion of the population come to terms with the fact that the tickets are out only a lucky few will get them.
I’ve been going to the Thursday of the Lords test with Andrew for nigh on 20 years now. Through thin and thin we’ve supported England as country after country have turned up at HQ with the press predicting they’ll be over-awed by playing at the Holy of Holys, only to teach the home side a lesson in, well, pretty much everything. I think we speak about six words to each other when we’re there, and we certainly never talk during overs. It’s heaven.
Supporting English cricket is not for the faint-hearted or the easily-disappointed (being a Charlton Athletic fan, you’d think I’d suffered enough unpleasantness), but addict and Addick as I am, I just can’t help myself. Imagine the thrill of seeing 2 out of the first 3 Aussie batsmen get clattered on the head when they were last here. It was hilarious beyond words. We stuck it to ’em alright. So they decided to return the compliment and rout us when it was their turn to bowl.
It happens with an almost predictable regularity but nothing can dampen the goose-bumped optimism for my team’s chances as I pass though the gates and enter the Great Place, awaiting those flanneled fools in their Green Baggies to skip down the pavilion steps. Anyone who’s been on the Nou Camp, the Augusta National, the Oval Office or the Taj Mahal must surely recognize that feeling. (In the Taj Mahal I always order the Doipaza and the Taka Dal, very tasty, and remember, they stop serving at 11.30 sharp). Twickenham is always a bit of a disappointment—it has to be the coldest , soul-less ground on earth, and oddly The Millennium Stadium, Cardiff knocks it into a cocked hat (have I mentioned that the Welsh came in 4th?).
So now the long build-up to that great day begins: There’s the Lions Squad to be announced (PLEASE DON’T TAKE THAT POWDERED PONCE HENSON), Charlton’s Oozalum season will come to it’s inevitable conclusion, and the drone of millionaires parading round an F1 track will soon be interrupting my Sunday lunchtime pint. But I have my ticket for Lords and that means cricket’s back in town, and the world seems a better place for it.
Now where did I put my lucky jockstrap?