If there’s one thing that the English do better than playing cricket it’s writing about cricket.
The Daily Telegraph’s obituary for Bryan “Bomber” Wells is a good example – it recalls the joys of playing the game before cricketers took themselves so seriously.
Overweight and undertrained, Bomber Wells could hardly have looked less like a professional sportsman. This unathletic impression was confirmed by his bowling run-up, or rather his lack of run-up. As he himself explained, he took two steps when he was cold and one when he was hot; and sometimes he simply delivered the ball from a stationary position.
He once managed to bowl an entire over (by pre-arrangement with the batsman) while the Worcester cathedral clock struck 12.
You can’t imagine the current lot doing that, although I suppose it is a bit ridiculous. I once saw Jacques Kallis at Joburg International airport and, just from the way he walked, you could tell that he had an extremely healthy regard for himself. Perhaps that’s what happens to you when you’re a star, a cricketing legend. No smiles at the people gaping at him, nudging each other and whispering, “Isn’t that Jacques Kallis?” He was “in his bubble” as they say about sportspeople with great powers of concentration.
One of the things I like about watching or listening to cricket is the fact that it’s generally a soothing way of dealing with anxiety. Of course it helps that SA could win the current series against England, despite the fact that they’ve stuffed things up from similar situations before. Helping them this time is one Jeremy Snape, an English cricketer and now a sports psychologist, who can hopefully help them to avoid the pitfalls of panicking and choking, as Derek Pringle explains.
I won’t comment on the hypocrisy or greed or other negatives associated with the “gentleman’s game”. But I think Mephistopheles has a point when he says:
The beauty of Cricket does not lie in the hypocrisy surrounding it. Rather, it begins and ends inside the boundary lines. Two batsmen against the other eleven who are trying to get them out. Cricket is a game where there is room for individual brilliance within the framework of team work. The beauty of Cricket is in some of its vignettes. A bowler marking his run-up and the batsmen taking guard. The crowd waiting in anticipation while the bowler starts his run-up and then that anticipation turning to instant boredom as the batsmen shoulders his arms and lets the ball through to the wicket keeper.
Sometimes boredom is good. And there’s always time to read while watching cricket. A cuppa tea, a good book and the gentle thwack of bat against ball. As long as we win 😉