English cricketing eccentrics, No. 3 – Jack Russell

I should nail my colours to the mast at the outset – Jack Russell was one of my cricketing heroes growing up. As a young wicketkeeper, watching him swooping around behind the stumps for Gloucestershire at my home ground at Cheltenham was inspirational. I even hung around to get his autograph at his testimonial game in 2004 and I have one of his wonderful prints on my wall. So the description that is to follow is borne of affection rather than ridicule. Why give this disclaimer, you ask? Because Robert Charles ‘Jack’ Russell is quite an odd fellow.

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Frankly the hat has aged better than the kit.

‘Eccentric’ is almost certainly the best word – he doesn’t like the phrase himself, insisting that all the things he does are “logical and natural”. That may be so, but it bears some of the hallmarks of being obsessive-compulsive. All of Russell’s strange behaviour had sensible roots, but he would take everything to its logical extreme. For instance, he liked his “flowerpot” hat and found it comfortable. Fair enough, but Russell’s logical extreme? He wore it in every match in his career bar his debut, endlessly repairing it with old cricket trousers, leading to a George-Washington’s-axe-type conundrum as to whether it was still the same hat by the end. Such was his dedication to it that he threatened to not play in the 1996 World Cup if he wasn’t allowed to wear it (the ICC were insisting on compliant blue caps). In the end, the authorities conceded defeat and Russell was given dispensation to wear the hat, so long as it had the Three Lions stitched on it. Such an ancient hat needed careful looking after – it was starched, stitched and carefully dried using a biscuit jar and tea cosy to hold the shape. However, away from home, he had to make do with more makeshift arrangements, on one occasion in 1994 putting it in the oven to dry. The hat predictably caught fire and required emergency repairs for it to live to fight another day.
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KP: Method or madness?

A bright new dawn peeks over the horizon of English cricket. Well no, it’s another huge raincloud coming to dump some more misery on the ECB and its media machine, which has been pumping furiously to try and clear the knee-deep sludge which is starting to smell pretty nasty. To put it lightly, it’s been one of the worst winters on record. On the field, the team has been thrashed in every which way it is possible to be thrashed. Off the field, it’s looking like some of the worst imaginings of Hieronymous Bosch. Whichever way you look, this is a team in disarray. Its coach has resigned, its captain shell-shocked, its vice-captain dropped, its senior batsman mentally unfit for the rigours of the game and its world-class spinner retired. Yet through all of this, the attention is instead on Kevin Pietersen, as it has been for the past eight-and-a-half years.
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From the Archives: (i.e. we forgot to post this before) Film Review Roundup: The Adelaideville Horror

Out this week on DVD following the grand premiere in December, the Adelaideville Horror is based on the true story of a group of eleven young men who get holed up in an unfamiliar location. With their only means of defence a few pieces of wood, they are slowly picked off by a crazed killer (Mitchell Johnson).

England beat Australia

England can expect a hero’s welcome when they return from Australia, following glorious victory against the old enemy at Perth. Our country’s finest were the better team in all facets of the game and have yet again dashed Australia’s hopes of winning.

It remains to be seen how the Aussies will recover from such a crushing defeat.

But that’s enough about the women. In other news, the men’s team also won a crucial decider¬†meaningless dead rubber match on the same ground and now have a record of 1 win and 8 defeats in all internationals in Australia. Pathetic.

TGECF emerges from behind the sofa

1. We now understand what that Chinese bamboo torture must feel like. First the wheels fell off, then the engine fell out the bottom, before the chassis finally disintegrated altogether. Then Mitchell Johnson dyed his moustache pink. We’re not sure what the term for a fear of pink moustaches is, but eleven Englishmen are about to undergo intensive treatment for it.

2. We here at TGECF weren’t really interested in the Ashes anyway [looks shiftily around to make sure no one noticed]. It’s all about the World T20 in March. Really. Well, no. Not really – not even we can keep a straight face on that one.

3. Hurrah for Ben Stokes. The next big thing! Cue inevitable heaping of pressure on a young man by a desperate English media. All we need to do now is to find another seven or eight players and we’ve almost got a team.

4. We really jinxed it before the first Test by suggesting there was no chance all those injury-prone Aussies would make it through the series without breaking down. Our comments about Jonathan Trott’s redoubtable mental strength were also a little bit, ahem, unfortunate.

5. Hats off to the Aussies. Their bowlers were relentless and England just weren’t up to it. Mitchell Johnson came up trumps.¬† The only crumb of comfort for England is that Harris is 34, Johnson 32 and Siddle 29. They may not all be around in 2015.

6. You have to wonder whether the stress of two back-to-back Ashes series fried the England players’ brains once they were on the ropes. Not to mention the selectors, who have been made to look a little bit silly for aspects of their touring party (Steve Finn and his 4-wicket-per-Test average in particular must be wondering where they stand in the greater scheme of things). We expect the team for the first Test against Sri Lanka in the summer to look quite a bit different from this one.

Now that’s over, we’re going to do our very best to expunge the whole thing from our memories. I’m sorry, what Ashes series?

NEWS FLASH

Police are hunting a Queensland man who launched a crazed and brutal attack on a bewildered group of English tourists in full public view. He has been named as Mitchell Johnson, 32. Johnson is described as being 6 foot 2 inches tall, stocky, with black hair. He has a number of tattoos on his arms and a horseshoe moustache. He was last seen wearing a white shirt and white trousers. Police released this last known picture of Johnson (right). The public have been warned not to approach Johnson, who is known to be armed with a potentially lethal projectile. All of the English tourists have now been released from hospital, although several are still being assessed for potential psychological damage.

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Johnson is described as “extremely dangerous”

We have managed to speak to a few of the victims within the past few hours. Matthew Prior, 31, told us, “The first thing I knew is that this big bloke with a moustache was running towards me at full pelt, before hurling something red at my head. I still don’t know what it was but it looked like if it had hit me, it could have killed me. I’d say it was travelling at over 90mph. I don’t know why he would do that but I was very scared. I wasn’t hanging around. I’ve never seen such aggression.”

Monty Panesar, 31, said, “He just kept coming back, again and again. He hit me on the head and the arm. It was all I could do to defend myself. I’m shaken, I really am.”

According to Panesar, one of the men still receiving treatment is Stuart Broad, 27. Broad is apparently so traumatised that the only discernable words he has uttered since the incident is, “There’s something wrong with the screen. Something wrong with the screen…”

Chief Inspector Jeff Crowe, who is leading the police operation, described Johnson as “extremely dangerous.” “The motive for these chilling attacks is still unknown, although we believe it may have been done for some kind of fun. We are also trying to trace several other similarly dressed men who may have been in the vicinity at the time of the attacks.”

Anyone who may have witnessed the attacks is encouraged to sob into their morning coffee before contacting the police.

Well-known Comedy Group Reunites

In a move that has shocked the cricketing world, the legendary comedy troupe, Monty Panesar’s Flying Circus, have to decided to re-form for a hilarious, high-jinks filled tour to Australia.

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How it might look

With their legendary slapstick humour and unpredictable shifts in comedic tone, MPFC were in their heyday during the 1990s, when their side-splitting antics, featuring dropped catches, woeful batting collapses and left-field selection decisions left everyone apart from England in fits of hysterical laughter. Over the last few years, however, their appearances have become fewer and further between, last being seen in public in January 2012, with the seminal ’72 all out’ episode.
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Now really!

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We’re no experts, but the Australian media’s continuing ostracisation of Stuart Broad for not walking at Trent Bridge is just a little hypocritical, seeing as their own skipper committed an even more blatant version against India a few years back. Or, as the Huffington Post points out, the Chappell underarm incident was hardly the height of sportsmanship…

Here we go again…

Fear not, those of you suffering through the first gusts of the chilly England winter. You’ll soon be able to turn on your televisions and warm your hands on the hot Australian summer emanating from it. Or, even better, make yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate, get back under the covers, and put TMS on.

Now the world has got over the fact that a man who used to play cricket now no longer plays cricket, we can focus on some men actually playing cricket in a series which isn’t a glorified charity game for Sachin Tendulkar. So here’s a few thoughts from us:
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Ashes to Ashes

As we write, England are a day away from unveiling their touring party for the Ashes. 16 or 17 men, good and true, will represent their country in one of the finest sporting endeavours on the planet. An Ashes series is the sort of thing that sends a tingle down the spine, that makes you think of years past, of heroes and villains, of the towering figures of cricketing history. There is a special aura around the Ashes. To quote Sir Ralph Richardson, from a wonderful Pathe documentary we’ve plugged before on this blog (found here – http://film.britishcouncil.org/cricket1):

What is it about this unobtrusive game? What is its magic? For magic it must surely be that makes men sit and watch and dream of past occasions and of wistful yearnings never quite fulfilled. Magic it is that makes the hush when captains meet.

But here we sit, having just finished the last dregs of an overlong Ashes summer, watching two thoroughly disinterested sides polishing off a dreary one-day series. There was, we would suggest, little of the magic of which Richardson speaks in the last few matches.
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