Thursday, October 05, 2006

CRICKETING CUL-DE-SAC

A couple of months ago, Simon Hattenstone wrote an article in the Guardian about his admiration for Graeme Hick. For those of you not au fait with cricket, Hick was almost universally acknowledged as the most talented batsman of his generation. He played his first match for Worcestershire in 1984, but because he was born in Zimbabwe he had to wait seven years until he could play for England. He scored masses of runs for his county in those seven years, setting all sorts of records in the process, and in 1991 he finally got to play for his adopted country.

After 65 Test matches, he had an average of just 31, the lowest of any England batsman to play so many Tests. In 114 innings he scored just only six centuries, and scored less than fifty on ninety occasions. It is a conundrum that any cricket fan will have mused over in each of those 114 innings: how could such a talented player fail so miserably on the international stage?

I rather share the feelings of Hattenstone, a self-confessed Hick stalker, when he writes:

I waited seven years for him to qualify for England and for the inevitable torrent of runs. They didn't come. He was dropped and dropped and dropped again. By the end he was broken, edging to the crease like a man who knew he would be back in the pavilion a few balls later with "FAILURE" tattooed on his forehead. Astonishingly, the man who had looked invincible in his early days, who carried his bat like a scythe, turned out to have a fatal psychological flaw. He couldn't do it for England. It only made me love him more.

Hattenstone even invented a fantasy cricket game in which his hero could succeed:

I used to play a step-counting game when I was walking home from the bus stop - one run for every step. I was batting for England and every time a car came the other way I lost a wicket. Of course, I manipulated it, so the likes of Athers and Nasser were batting when I was on the main road (they were frequently out for ducks), and Hicky came in when I was on the quiet side streets so there was no chance of him getting out cheaply.

At the end of this summer, there was much criticism of Marcus Trescothick's paucity of runs, and some commentators opined that Tres should be dropped for the Ashes. This is ludicrous: the man is our most dependable batsman of the last three or four years. But I must admit, he did have a pretty woeful summer. So, walking home from Caledonian Road tube this evening, I decided to play Hattenstone's game. Trescothick opened the batting as usual, and I started counting from the bus-stop.

It took only a few seconds for Banger to make his fifty (no cars passed); a few seconds later he made 100 (no cars passed); and by the time I reached the next bus-stop he had made his second double-century in a Test match to a rapturous Lords crowd (still no cars). In fact, he was fast approaching Brian Lara's Test record of 400 before I realised that Hillmarton Road is a one-way street.


TRESCOTHICK MULLERING BRETT LEE THROUGH THE COVERS EARLIER THIS EVENING. IN MY MIND, AT LEAST...

3 Comments:

Blogger darling vicarage said...

wow, something about cricket that isn't boring. now there's a first

7:15 PM  
Blogger paddington said...

Easy, Vicarage - in the words of the Hulk, yr making me angry...

7:51 PM  
Blogger minifig said...

Are we going to see the return of book cricket? It was the only sport I was ever any good at...

11:14 PM  

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