by gordonhook on 3 May, 2020
My monthly Wisden cricket magazine arrived a few days ago. Its cover headline was “The Five Day War. The Battle For The Future Of Test Cricket.”
Now I accept by this stage most of my readers ( both of you probably) will have switched off and moved on to the other compulsive daily blog, ” Gasometers of West Wales”, but I have always viewed this blog as at least partly self-indulgent therapy, so as we are all in need of a bit of therapy every now and again, I’m ploughing on.
Cricket has always been a passion of mine. I was no great player, though I captained Gloucestershire Schools (19s) and my local club back in Sussex for many years before moving back to Devon more than 25 years ago.
The thought that the purest and traditional form of the game is under threat from the Philistines started me down the nostalgic trail, as did the finally acknowledged truth that I am no longer likely to hit the winning boundary in the fifth test of an Ashes series. Indeed, it is most unlikely that I’ll ever again feel the glorious satisfaction of my wonderous Senior Counties willow ( perhaps the finest bat manufacturer?) dispatch leather across the whitewash, never again hear the sweet crack of a well-smitten cover drive or pull backward of square, setting the pigeons flapping to another, safer, haven of the outfield. Never again the polite applause from the deck chairs in front of the Pavillion and the short trousered brigade scampering to retrieve and toss back, unhelpfully well wide of the tiring fielder.
I dare not ramble on too much but I trust it will all be in the autobiography should I ever get around to writing more than the Introduction, which I managed a few years back. Retirement beckons??
Memories of truly wonderful matches, friendships, village greens…Ringmer ( of course) Chiddingly; Glynde; Tenterden; Firle, and the electric scoreboard at Rye! (revisited last summer…the scoreboard sadly no more)
By this stage of the nostalgic indulgence, I was close to tears.
The vast majority of my sporting heroes all excelled on the Test Match stage; it may have been the England spin duo of my native Gloucestershire, Mortimer and Allen; it may more recently have been the best wicket-keeper England have had in my lifetime, Jack Russell or others such as David Gower; Mike Procter; Courteney Walsh; Zaheer Abbas; Barry Richards, Shane Warne, “Bomber” Wells….OK, I accept the list is virtually endless, and at least a couple never played for Gloucestershire, but they were all class acts, they were all worthy of praise and admiration. They all proved themselves on the most demanding of sporting stages. ( well perhaps not “Bomber” but he was a class act nevertheless)
Let me be clear, other forms of the game exist, but they are just that, other forms of the game, and no doubt some American baseball players could adapt to the knockabout stuff with which we are now being entertained, and which keeps the coffers topped up. I do not dismiss the knockabout as it is a form of sport, which produces instant results and spectacular action. England have had some success at these bastardizations of THE GAME, but they will not produce the unutterable skill and sheer beauty of the longer version… and England will be the poorer for its passing, should the passing ever come about.
I could, and perhaps one day I will, progress to what it means, for me, to be “English” and the part cricket plays in that national characteristic. However, it will have to remain “one day” as I need to get back to work and desist from this self-indulgent rambling.