The meaning of cricket

In which I try to explain why five days of slow sport is the greatest game ever.

I’ve done a good job of teaching Mrs G the rules and laws of cricket, she can tell me what a maiden is and the difference between the main forms of the game are. She’s also getting the hang of the LBW law (the cricketing litmus test – if you understand leg before you had a decent grasp of the game, a bit like the offside rule in football).

She is also slowly grasping the naming of the fielding positions (like what a “silly mid-off” is and how it differs from “third man”). This is pretty impressive considering that she comes from the relative cricketing backwater of New York. Where she struggles is not in the application of the game, but the matches themselves. Like many she doesn’t get the meaning of cricket.

No other sport I know has generated an idiom like “it’s just not cricket”, we don’t say “that’s just like football” or “going round like a Formula 1 car”. There is something about the sport that makes it special, even the laws of the game have a specific section about the “spirit” of the game. Do the rules of baseball, basketball or rugby look to codify the behaviour of the players in such a way? It’s not because cricketers are constantly treating the game with disdain but more because the way it is played is perhaps more important than the participation.

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Losing my wicket

In which I gave up the chance to watch the cricket for New York.

I surprised Mrs G last night with the announcement that I was going to take her to see the stage version of that Les Miseryables movie. She is very excited to see this for the 35th time (and I’m not kidding, she has seen it that many times…or maybe more). As well as being excited she was also a little sad because, in her words:

I never remember to do this kind of thing for you. (Or something along these lines…it was late).

She does though, it’s just the last time she made such a gesture we weren’t able to follow through on it. For Christmas she got me tickets to watch the cricket in Birmingham, it would have been my first time at an Ashes test but in the end I didn’t go. It was within reach, and I took it away.

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Cricket affectiveness disorder

In which I come down with an illness that lasts five days.

Tomorrow is the start of the end of my summer illness, no not hayfever (although I have been clear of that for the last few weeks), but a stranger disease.

I suffer from a curious illness, at times it can be crippling but I had thought in the last few years I had been able to get over it. However at recent events it has come back with a vengeance. I suffer from Cricket Affective Disorder (CAD), I have the Wicket Blues. This particular malady only affects a certain sub-group of people, the English Cricket Team fan. No other nation has been able to report a similar illness (although ongoing research is being made into Australian Smugness and Indian Cricket Mania) and medical organizations are desperately trying to find a cure.

Recent studies by WHO and the ICC had shown that cases of CAD was in decline and were ready to declare the complete eradication of the disease at the beginning of summer. However it seems that the disease has mutated into a more powerful form, possibly with the N1 TeAM strain seen a few years ago crossing with bout of KPERS earlier in the year.

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The joy of Test Match Special

In which I spend five days listening to people talking about pigeons.

I am lucky that I work for a manager and company that does understand that an office is a noisy place and sometimes you need a way of shutting off from the cacophony of your colleagues. The usual way for me to do this is by using my phone to listen to music. This is so important that I will only have phones I can stick a huge memory card in to put as many melodies on as I can.

The alternative would be to stream, but data limits restrict the ability to use Spotify and I sit just out of range of a free wi-fi. Thankfully this month I have saved my allowance so I can listen to live coverage of the Ashes, but this raises an ethical question. Does the listening of a live sports event damage or improve productivity and therefore should I be allowed to listen to Test Match Special?

The obvious answer is of course yes, I’m not going to pretend that this will be an unbiased assessment of my listening habits. It is one of the God-given rights for an Englishman to listen to TMS, if it had been around in the 1770s then hundreds of radio sets tuned to 198LW would have been thrown into Boston harbour (however this would have galvanised the Redcoats even more than the wanton destruction of tea).

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It’s The Ashes

In which a 25 day sporting event takes over my life.

It’s that time of the biennium when England (and Wales, and a bit of South Africa) take on our antipodean rivals to fight over the silliest trophy in the world. Not that the trophy is stupid, more the size. Lifting a 6 inch ceramic urn above your head looks like you’ve just become a subbuteo champion not the victor in a long-standing cricket rivalry.

Today the start of the summer Ashes, and by this point you will either be one of the majority that has groaned with indifference about week-long matches or, if you are like me, giddy with excitement. I guess you opinion. On cricket is going to dictate whether you press read more, but go on…give it a try.

Even my American wife is intrigued about the Ashes, it’s a rivalry half as old as her nation, and although she’s not stocking up on Pimms for the weekend sessions of play is still willing to let her husband take over the TV for nine hours a day.

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Fire in Babylon

In which England are silenced by whispering death.

Being an England Cricket fan I am used to a number of disappointments, and the team being generally rubbish is one of them. In the last ten years I’ve had to get used to seeing England win, and be expected to win, but now I’m coming to realise that those days are over.

The greatest cricket team I have ever seen has been the Australian team of the 90’s and 2000’s, but before the era of Warne and Ponting came the West Indies and they may have been the greatest team ever. This week the BBC has aired “Fire in Babylon”, a documentary of the Windies teams from the 70’s and 80’s, and it’s something special.

If you love cricket, it is worth watching.

If you love sport, it is worth watching.

If you are interested in social history, it is worth watching.

For the rest of you…it is worth watching.

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Odes to things I love

On Valentine’s the one part of my life I don’t feel like having to say a special “I love you” to is Mrs G. We have this unwritten agreement that we like each other a lot, and she will tell me that she loves me to which I have only one reply.

So rather than upsetting her Shakespearephilia and attempting to write sonnets extolling her many virtues I’m going to attempt poetry (which is always a dangerous style for me to try) declaring my love for other items that get my blood racing (and it may also raise the blood pressure of those who love and cherish poetry).

On Valentine’s the one part of my life I don’t feel like having to say a special “I love you” to is Mrs G. We have this unwritten agreement that we like each other a lot, and she will tell me that she loves me to which I have only one reply.

So rather than upsetting her Shakespearephilia and attempting to write sonnets extolling her many virtues I’m going to attempt poetry (which is always a dangerous style for me to try) declaring my love for other items that get my blood racing (and it may also raise the blood pressure of those who love and cherish poetry).

Things what I love – A collection.

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