I’ve Seen Better Batters in a Fish & Chip Shop **


There are very few continents on which I haven’t made a complete arse of myself playing cricket (or otherwise). For instance, back in 2000 I collapsed with heat exhaustion (or alcohol dehydration and poisoning—depending on which ‘expert’ you listen to) on the Third Man boundary at a ground in St Lucia, West Indies. Three men had to carry me off the field of play to a nearby shady spot where I was doused in cool water and cooler Red Stripe. I took no further part in the match;

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A Team Photo in Oman, 2009. Squad moral wasn’t always what it could have been following one of my more imaginative bowling spells. Pic taken the day after the local hosepipe ban was lifted.

In Nairobi, Kenya, suffering from lack of oxygen because of the high altitude (or from alcohol dehydration and poisoning—depending on which ‘expert’ you listen to) I momentarily lost my sight and lost all sense of direction. Instead of charging towards the batsman to deliver the fifth ball of my first over, I charged towards the square leg umpire who turned on his heels and fled, fearing that he’d be run over by this fat pink bloke approaching. I took no further part in the match;

In Adelaide my fearsome bowling was hit hit so hard and so often by a bloke who usually batted at no.11 for his club side, that a box of new balls had to be ordered, as no-one wanted to go into the spider/snake-infested bush beyond the boundary to find the three new red cherries which he’d deposited there. The bloke I’d put on the boundary to catch him ricked his neck watching the balls soaring fifteen foot over his head;

In Sri Lanka while playing at a local Prison, I tore a muscle/got cramp (depending on…) in my calf in the third stride into the run-up OF MY VERY FIRST BALL. Probably the heat or something. I took no further part in the match.

But on this morning of all mornings, when the world holds its knickers in anticipation of the start of another Engand vrs Australia Ashes series, and because I’m so excited about it I can barely walk, I thought I’d flick through the old photo album and share with you a few lolights of my once-unpromising career. Less Ashes Urns, more Ashtrays and Beer Bottles.

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1992, The Daily Telegraph, vrs Devises Police Training School, Wilts. L-R (back row) R Shrimsley, R Savill, D Sapsted, T Butcher, M Smith, K Maguire, P Sherwell. Front row: P Stokes, N Bunyan, B Fenton, The Author, C Randall. Several of the above young journos went on to great careers in newspapers, magazines, TV, PR and literature. Some didn’t. No scorecards survive for this match. So I think we must have won it.

 

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This is not a still photo of me bowling, it’s video footage, replayed at actual speed (and no, it’s not your poor broadband connection). The hallmark grimace is already developing.  Somewhere in England in the early 1990’s. The umpire’s moustache may indicate the Liverpool area. The bails were later stolen.

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A rabbit in the headlights.  Stowe School, England 1988. Daily Telegraph Gentlemen vrs Players Cricket match (can’t remember which side I was on.) Christopher Martin Jenkins (pick that name up for me please, Deirde) and I had a nice chat as we walked around the boundary. He told me that he doubted if I would never make a club cricketer. Which was nice. And he’d hadn’t even seen me bat yet.

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The Author, on tour in Dubai, and on the eve of a possible Test call-up, receives a good length ball on his off stump, attempts to hook it over square leg for six, and can only watch as the ball clatters into his castle.  The keen-eyed will realise how slow the delivery must have been. Few batsmen are lucky enough to get the time to look behind them before the ball hits the wicket. (There is a version of this photo where I have photoshopped-out the ball. I look magnificent.)

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A terrifying sight for any batsman. Or, indeed, for anyone. The four-pronged pace attack of The Fleet Street Exiles XI, take a well-earned paddle in the sea between humiliating defeats, Galle, Sri Lanka 2002. Please note : for once I am neither the fattest, nor the oldest in this photo. Just the shortest. (Also very pleased to see that I kept my purse with me at all times.)

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The Author stops for a prayer and a swift large rum before going into bat in Antigua. West Indies, 2000. Here we see him trying to come up with a name for an idea he’s had for an irregular column on the internet.

**The phrase directed at me by the home wicket keeper as I took guard in my first ever match on foreign soil. Melbourne, Australia, 1998 (ish). The sad thing about it is that he was probably telling the truth.

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Jobs for the Boys and Girls.


I’ve had a few decent jobs. I’ve had a couple of bloody awful ones too. I spent a good deal of my working life at The Telegraph; then a decent amount of time in London at TIME Magazine. I spent only a few months in the employ of Rupert Murdoch, but I don’t think he misses me. He’s probably got plenty on his plate to worry about at the moment anyway. Mr Dacre doesn’t lay awake at night wondering why I only did a couple of weeks freelancing on his Daily Mail. At least I assume he doesn’t. How much time Alexander Lebedev spends wishing I was still at The Independent, only he knows. When he gets too depressed about it, he goes off and punches someone, I hear. Robert Maxwell fell off his boat before I got the chance of working for him. Pity.

So you’d think that the constant moaning and whingeing from her father might have put a young Bealing off of journalism, wouldn’t you ? Well apparently not.

If you click on the picture above you’ll see an interview with former Tory politician Ann Widdecombe, the first raft of questions being asked by my eldest daughter Lucy (bottom right hand corner of this photo) . The more observant of you will notice Lucy keeps here questions to Ann’s role in Strictly Come Dancing rather than tackle her on political issues. It’s probably for the best: Her dad, whereas he would have struggled to come up with anything coherent or relevant to ask about Strictly, would have ended up on an assault charge should he ever have had to ask Widdecombe about her “struggle against Socialism”. Probably why her dad ended up as a picture editor, rather than an interviewer. You’ll also note that Lu speaks the Queen’s English unlike her father. Another advantage she has over me.

So that’s my eldest sorted out for the future, but the job market is a precarious one. My current job of “Watching Columbo and Printing T-Shirts” is one of my favourite jobs I’ve had, it just doesn’t pay anything like I thought it might. Almost the opposite in fact. On the other hand, I’m working at a place I like (home) with people I like (my mate Rob) and the hours are pretty good.

It could be worse, I could be Andrew Strauss who’s looking particularly precarious in his job as England cricket captain, his team having lost its fourth test match in a row. There’s no disgrace losing in Sri Lanka. The conditions are brutally hot and the pitches are so different from those in England that you’d need to be a particular talent to pull off a win, especially in Galle which has the reputation of being a graveyard for English players, and in particular English bowlers.

Bealing leads off The Fleet St Exiles having taken 6-22, taking them to a
3 wickets victory against the Sri Lankan Airways XI, Galle, Sri Lanka 2005

Then again some people are luckier than others. My good mate Dave has finally ended his long wait for a permanent job by landing a plumb one on a magazine. It’s been a long wait for him and I was thrilled when he called to tell me he’s landed it. Well done, Wavey ! Then there’s rugby’s Stuart Lancaster who has just been given the job which everyone in the country (57 Old Farts aside) thought he should have been given weeks ago. The new English Rugby Coach has fought off seemingly nearly every other coach in the world for the job before the old Twats of Twickenham finally run out of South Africans to turn them down. The RFU were forced to give the job to Lancaster, something they should have done when it was clear he a) knew how to coach a rugby team and b) had no time for show ponies. Celebrity coach he ain’t. And thank fuck for that.

Andy Robinson keeps his job. Yes, really. The Scotland coach had presided over a team which last won a match in black&white but somehow managed to convice the SRFU that he’s the one for the post. Can there be another man in the country (and yes, we can still count Scotland in that) who’s luckier to be still employed ? No, not if you don’t count Francis Maude there isn’t.

The Idiot Saville Row Tory Cabinet Office Minister Maude emplored drivers to fill up their Jerrycans with petrol and prepare for fuel shortages due to the tanker driver’s strike and that “there are lives at stake”. Once people had Googled what a Jerrycan was (apparently not everyone’s obsessed by WWII like me), checked that there is no strike (and won’t be one for at least a fortnight, and even then, probably not) and that the tanker drivers weren’t using Mad Max II technology to threaten people’s lives and protect the remaining gasoline, everyone assumed Maude would be taken round the back by Dave and Gideon and pummeled to death with his own Jerrycan. Sadly not.

“Half a tank of unleaded and 3 lucky dips for tonight’s lottery, please mate.” – a scene from Mad Maude II: The Road Warrior

For starters, Dave was too busy telling us how much he loved Pasties, and about the hilarious incident when he recently bought a pasty on Leeds railway station from the West Cornwall Pasty Company. MMMMmmmmmmm….Yum Yum. Trouble is all the poor sods at the Leeds station branch of the West London Pasty Company lost their jobs in 2007. So all that justification by Dave, all that gettin dahn wiv da prols an da kidz was, ow u say,  a load of old bollocks.

Still, Dave’ll soon have some proper opposition in Parliament to point out all his mistakes, scandals, lies and wrong-doings. George Galloway is back in a job. Sadly, it’s true. The Big Brother Cat Impersonator is back in his job as an MP, this time by winning a by-election in Bradford West, a once Labour stronghold. George won by a landslide by campaigning on one issue: An anti-Afghan War campaign in the predominantly-muslim neighbourhoods of Bradford West. He even intimated earlier in the campaign he actually was a musilm (he isn’t really).

Just fancy that: A tv celebrity, however micro and annoying to you and me, campaigns in a Muslim area against a war seen by many to be anti-muslim, securing a 10,000 majority and WINNING a by-election in a previously Labour heartland. Now who could have predicted that ? Should anyone in Labour be brought to account for this humliation? Should Mr Millipede still be in his job ?