I like cricket. At one point, deep in my youth, I was playing four games a week. I was Malmesbury Cricket Club Under 15s Players’ Player Of the Year (about 13 years ago – to this day, probably the only trophy I’ve ever won). I once opened batting for the district (lord knows why, I always fancied myself as a bit of a demon swing bowler).
It’s the start of the Ashes, but I don’t want to wax lyrical about the quality of the teams in this iconic series. I won’t ramble on about the sport. But I do want to talk about a particular BBC Online E-Commentator, who is one of the finest writers in any form. His name is Ben Dirs. He has a Facebook fan group. Little is known about him, but here are some of his finest quotes:
Aaah, the English summer. The sound of leather on willow, the smell of freshly cut grass. Village folk dancing round the Maypole, attractive ladies in strappy tops, aggressive looking men with their shirts off drinking strong lager in town centres. Finding yourself nuzzling an unwashed armpit on the Tube in 50C heat. It’s going to be another belter ladies and gents.
Embarrassing cricket tales. When I was about 14, my school team played against a school called Langdon, somewhere or other in the wilds of East London. They batted first and racked up 180-3 off 20 overs. We got 13. My PE teacher called it the most humiliating day of his life. Years later, he got done for sex offences. I wonder what he thinks now.
Watching Test cricket again is like slipping into a Penguin Classic after seven weeks locked in a room with only the entire back catalogue of Nuts magazine to read.
Oof! McCullum kerplunks a fuller Sidebottom delivery for what looks a certain four until it smashes into Gillespie’s, erm, mummy-daddy button at the non-striker’s end and he is denied a run. That had to hurt. Gillespie turns down the opportunity to have it treated by the Kiwi physio – perhaps he’s not his type.
Umpire Billy Bowden is decked by a Jones sweep! How marvellous…I mean what a choker…A sweetly-timed shot by the England batsman, which strikes Bowden on the hip, sending sunnies and walkie-talkie flying. Shame for Jones, that was going for four. Bowden will have secretly loved that, the old drama tart.
If this chap doesn’t make you a) fall in love with the English language and all it’s nuances, or b) make you appreciate cricket, then I don’t know who can.