Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Cricket, redux

Posted by Tania Kindersley.

Sport is so strange, if you stop and think about it for more than two minutes. How can it matter? There are many curious, made-up games, mostly involving some kind of ball, often with arcane rules and secret language, which can reduce grown men to tears, elation or fisticuffs. Grown women too, but there is something about the fanatical following of sport which seems a particularly male preserve. It appears most often to be men and boys who obsessively follow teams, collect statistics, live and die by success on the field. (I would really like to know why that is. Is it because sport provides a permitted place where culturally proscribed emotions can come out safely?) The male love of sport is so stitched into national consciousness that it is comically peculiar when a man admits to knowing nothing about it. Adam Buxton and Joe Cornish, who I think might be the funniest men on the radio, and whose podcasts I am currently loving on the BBC iPlayer, did a riff during the World Cup last summer where the entire comic premise was that they had not a clue about football. Just that mere fact was already funny, before they started doing made-up commentaries about players called Agamemnon and Durk Technic.

Because of the amazing Ashes, there is currently an outbreak of glorious man love in old Blighty. Men are not really supposed to love men, even now, in these more enlightened times. The old heterosex is still premised on a certain restraint and gruffness. If you are a fellow, you can't go all girly and start getting pashes on people. But when Alastair Cook finished his magnificent knock last night, hitting 189 mighty runs, gentlemen all over the country felt their hearts shift in their manly chests. Graeme Swann tweeted 'I love Belly and Cooky more than Cumberland sausage and black pudding', which is a great love indeed.

None of it really matters at all. Eleven men bashing away at a tiny, hard ball, with heavy wooden objects, for five days, in a game with rules and positions and customs so obscure that only ten people in the world probably understand all of them, does not add up to a hill of beans in this crazy world. How can a sport which features googlies, silly mid-offs, slips and gullies, golden ducks, dollies and cow shots, really be taken seriously at all? Not to mention that its most revered commentator once said, with a completely straight face: 'The bowler's Holding, the batsman's Willey'.

And yet, and yet. It is sort of glorious, as the world goes charging on in a frenzy of economic experiments, uncertain politics, febrile fundamentalism, and racing technology. It is ancient and reassuring and certain. I like that the commentators still talk about Bradman, as if he were only playing yesterday instead of seventy years ago. I like the crazy rules and the antic language. I love that it madly goes on for five days, and yet still manages to have me on the edge of my seat.

It does not matter at all, and yet it does matter, at the same time. It is absolute escapism, because it has nothing to do with the world. Whatever your sport, when you are watching it out there on the green field, you can forget about the mortgage and the horrible boss and your own shortcomings and whether China is really going to take over the world. You can say Oh good shot and for one tiny moment everything is quite all right.  That is not nothing. And you can gaze at the unstoppable Alastair Cook and feel perfect, uncomplicated love, which does not happen every day and should never be sniffed at.

Now for pictures. It was another still, flat day, but the weather people keep saying blizzards, and severe weather warning, so I thought I would concentrate on the green growing things while I can still see them.

This is all growing in my garden, despite the crazy weather:

5th Jan 3

5th Jan 5

5th Jan 6

5th Jan 1

5th Jan 6-1

The wall is green with moss:

5th Jan 7

Out on my walk, there was lots of green:

5th Jan 8

5th Jan 13

5th Jan 14

5th Jan 16

These hellebores are growing wild, in some rough ground:

5th Jan 19

I like this view, through the canopy of trees, across the garden wall, to the hill beyond:

5th Jan 15

More excellent wall moss action, from the bridge over the burn:

5th Jan 9


5th Jan 10

5th Jan 11

(Even though it was a dull old day, the light came out very vivid and bright in these, as if the canines have some kind of magic effect on the camera, which I would not put past them.)

Back to my wall:

5th Jan 17

Views south:

5th Jan 20

5th Jan 18

And today's hill, rather dark and moody, with drama sky:

5th Jan 21


The Ashes:

For those of you who can get the iPlayer, The Adam and Joe Show is here:  It's two whole hours of comic brilliant to brighten your post-Christmas gloom.


  1. Adam and Joe are great! I did a TV show with them years ago. Hope you're good xx

  2. Oh how true! I tend to be an eyebrow raiser when it comes to sport, but I remember with crystal clarity the day of the infamous 1981 underarm-bowl incident. NZ needed one run to win an ODI so Australia's Greg Chappell ordered the very last ball to be bowled underarm along the pitch. Can you imagine the uproar, the desolation? A nation in tears. It was everything.

  3. Christina - so impressed you have worked with heavenly A & J. The dear old Beeb is repeating all their radio shows and I have been listening and laughing till I cry.

    Zambesigirl - Do you know I actually SAW that moment of sporting shame? I think there must have been some kind of cricket programme, and they showed the clip and I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT. Most unsporting thing I ever saw.

  4. Cricket I can understand, football not so much. and I am beyond excited about the Olympics coming to my own town.

    It is not an advantage to be a man with zero interest in sport particularly in the work context. At least so I am told by my husband who has had to feign interest in order to have something to say to many of his colleagues who appear to be interested in little else.

  5. I must apologise for my inaccurate version. My husband, who was 16 at the time and claims superior recall, says NZ needed a six off the last delivery to tie the game, and not the dramatic one-to-win scenario I posted. But with a tail-ender facing at the long-boundaried MGC, it was highly unlikely. Somehow that makes the underarm strategy more deplorable, surely?

  6. The cricket is about the only thing making me feel better at the moment (am in the depths of a rotten cold).

    Have you read Lynne Truss's book about being a sports journalist? I got it for Christmas and chortled my way through it. V. funny.

  7. I have four brothers who all played cricket at school and at home during the holidays and I still don't understand the rules of the game! Give me a day at the races, I say! Husband fortunately is not a great sports fan but for some reason loves watching the Darts which are on at the moment ... if I hear him shout 180 at the television once more I will no longer be responsible for my actions ...


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