From the archives…

While looking through our blog history, we came across a couple of draft posts that, for some reason, never made it to press. Dusting them off (figuratively – it’s on a computer, duh) we actually thought a couple of them should see the light of day, even in their unfinished state, now that we’ve reached our hundred. Apart from anything else, it gives us a chance to look back at what we were thinking at the time (it was usually bonkers).

The first, which I found fascinating to read back, is an extremely depressed take on the start of last season, which, as some of you may recall, was about as wet as living in the Mariana Trench. I (being testmatchspecialist) wrote a piece bemoaning this from a club cricketer’s point of view. And here it is:

The Life of a Club Cricketer – April

I play for a large north London cricket club (who compete in the Middlesex league). I’m not a first team player, obviously, but I while away my days playing a decent standard of cricket.

Indoor nets started on 15th February this year. I’ve never liked them – there’s too many aches and pains after a long winter, they’re always stiflingly hot and humid and my footwork is always like a newborn calf for the first few weeks. Finally, it gets to early April, the doors are opened and we step out blinkingly into the warm sunsh… oh, wait, no it’s raining.

Now April isn’t usually a time for cherished memories of the sun on your back as a few dozen spectators loll about with a glass of Pimm’s. For the club cricketer it’s about extra jumpers, soggy socks and working out the optimum moment to remove your hands from your pockets. As a wicketkeeper, the problem of cold hands is reduced somewhat, but it’s still not exactly toasty. I once played an all-day game when it was six degrees and drizzling throughout. I don’t think I’ve ever been properly warm since. It’s not like playing football in midwinter; the cold doesn’t bite. It just soaks in gradually until you’ve got mild hypothermia. Sun is a bonus. Sun and warmth is very rare indeed.

Note how I’m speaking in generalities here. The trouble is I haven’t got any anecdotes from this season yet. I haven’t played. For three consecutive weeks my game has been cancelled. There’s the possibility of one on Monday, but I’m hardly hopeful given that training today was more akin to bog snorkelling than summer sport.

This April has been unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. You expect to be shower dodging and cold, but you don’t expect zero sunshine and zero play. Given that the offseason is already long enough and not helped by the tantalising promise that winter nets bring of the joys ahead, to have the whole first month of the season wiped out is like Chinese bamboo torture for a cricket afficionado. I know that the sun will eventually come out (it will, won’t it? Please…), but to lose the entire preseason is fairly depressing. The league starts next week – the only good thing about not having batted for four weeks is that the opposition probably haven’t either. I’m not expecting a high-scoring affair (assuming we get anywhere near a pitch).

The second one we’ve dug up is somewhat unfinished. We wrote it at the height of the KP saga during the summer. Apart from anything else, it shows the utter frustration at the inside of KP’s head. Anyway, see for yourselves:

Dropping the Ball – KP Blunders from gaffe to gaffe

Oh, Kev. Does it have to be this way? We can handle your Test average of 50, we can handle the odd hare-brained dismissal, we can even occasionally handle the ego. After all, it’s your mercurial nature which is what makes you something approaching great. But do you have to be quite such a pain and quite so thick? The goings-on of the England squad is currently playing out like a particularly poorly-written episode of Neighbours or Eastenders. In case everyone has forgotten, England have a Test match to win this week. I’ve got news for you – we won’t. If they manage to avoid all the distractions, the hole in the middle order left by KP’s absence (which is going to be filled by a man who in his career so far has looked about as likely to resist high-quality Test match attack as a marshmallow that has spent 20 seconds in the campfire) and the fact that this game was a must-win before Kev even opened his mouth after Headingley, it’ll be one of the most impressive victories in living memory. So what’s gone wrong?

First off, who the hell is advising the man? That, of course, is assuming that somebody is. Perhaps these mysterious advisers are just a) the voices in his head; b) his pet hamster; or c) the hamster living in his head, because surely no human could give such bad advice, as any human thick enough to have continually given such hopeless counsel would most likely have already walked off a cliff out sheer stupidity. The next question is why the hell hasn’t he fired whoever it is? Let’s look at the catalogue of head-bangingly stupid decisions the man has taken during the last fortnight or so:

1. Texting members of the opposition during a live, heavily-covered and extremely crucial Test match with text messages that the South African camp have very generously described as ‘banter’. Let’s face it here – there is no acrid black smoke without a pretty pollutant-filled fire. At some point, he almost certainly, whether jokingly or not, said some pretty dubious things about his England teammates.

2. Coming out after Headingley and saying that the next Test match could be his last. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

As you can see, it kind of stops mid-flow, but we’re busy people etc. etc. We would like to point out that we called it right that England wouldn’t win (although we got the bit about Jonny Bairstow wrong).

And finally, from just last month, there is this piece penned during the middle of the Nagpur Test:

Terrible cricket pitches of our time: No 1 – this one

Urgh.

That one didn’t really need anything adding to it, to be honest.

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