For the last 5 days, religiously the computer has been locked onto the TMS (Test Match Special) BBC coverage of the first Test between world ranked number 1′s India against world ranked number 2′s England. A series that should England win will reverse those rankings as far as Test Cricket is concerned.
All incredibly important stuff for hundreds of thousands, in fact probably millions of English and Indian people scattered around the globe, yours truly included. Life or death it is not. When looked at from the viewpoint of recent ghastly events in Norway or the untimely death of Amy Winehouse, who in my opinion was the best British female artist since Kate Bush, then cricket is and always will be only a game.
Nonetheless it matters, and never more so when the game is played at Lords, a pitch which almost always guarantees a result (rather than a draw) if the rain stays away. I have to admit to having spent many days being corporately entertained at Lords, Headingley, The Oval, Edgbastion and Old Trafford. It may yet be that I will see a test match, although probably no longer whilst being corporately entertained, at The Rose Bowl, home of cricket to my very own county, as it graced its very first Test Match early in the year when England played Sri Lanka.
I also admit that all the corporate entertainment at Test cricket matches through the years has led to a rather large, if not somewhat garish on occasion, collection of commemorative ties.
Anyway, during the past five days, it has been particularly difficult to explain even the most fundamentals of the game to those Ukrainians around me. Before even getting to dividing up to pitch and explaining why silly mid-off, gully, third man and all other orthodox fielding positions are and then having to try and explain the names and why they are called what they are called, there are even more basic elements to explain.
Why is there eleven people against only two all the time? That is not fair.
Why on such a big pitch do the play in the dirty bit and not a nice green bit?
Why are the two with bats dressed like riot police?
Why is one person allowed to have big gloves to catch the ball and all the others not?
This of course before attempts to explain the nuances about lbw which even if the ball does hit the legs is not necessarily lbw.
Why does one game take 5 days? Why do they play so many games in a series, it is almost a month when all the days are added together?
The list of questions, as you can imagine, goes on and on and on.
In a clear lack of commitment on my part with regard to explanation over the period of a few days, eventually it has come to a point that when I almost choke on a half eaten sandwich, and then try to avoid spluttering the contents over the computer screen, it is a cue for those in my presence to await the angst of disbelief or the unbounded joy over any particular incident. I almost feel like a conductor with an orchestra.
It is unfortunate an acquaintance of mine, Sundeep, lives in Kyiv and is not here to assist me in delivering the finer points of a wonderfully tactical game. It would be particularly beneficial given he is Indian and hails from West Bengal thus providing a more neutral, or at least equally as biased (but the other way) commentary.
Anyway, if some of the posts have been lacking in quality and more vigorous comment over the past 5 days, it is due to the distractions provided by the TMS team at the BBC, some outstanding cricket, and the need to explain matters cricket related to those around me.
Hopefully normal service will resume for a few days before the next Test starts at Trent Bridge.
Still, click here and enjoy!
One small thing to note. I didn’t take the good woman long to realise the symbolism of the Umpire’s digit of doom for any batsman. I have been on the receiving end of a number of exceptionally dodgy Umpire-esque dismissals since!