Leather, willow and all that



On the whole, I don't really do sport. I've always admired intelligence over brawn, and whenever I am thrust unwittingly into a sporting endeavor I am put off by the unthinking matey coarseness of it and even worse, the ugly sight of people being un-english and taking things too seriously.

The only competitive sport that I have played at all since leaving school is pub cricket. I don't have any strong pull to cricket, but I have always enjoyed a leisurely afternoon in the sun drinking a few beers and having a fag in the outfield. Our village pub team resolutely upheld non-competitive standards, and any visiting side that seemed to play the game seriously, or even un-drunk or un-hungover was frowned upon and not invited back (the 'serious' sides were always travelling teams of london lawyers and bankers, who invariably managed to smuggle in a couple of Australian ringers, the cads)

I do feel though that if I was to follow a sport, it should be cricket - I like the way that the players are mostly not 'stars', and I like the orderliness of the spectacle, I like the 'englishness' of it - in terms of abstract ideals rather than nationalism . I've never been particularly moved by the reporting of it in the sports pages though. However today I chanced upon a lovely piece in the book I'm reading - Austerity Britain. The writer, Neville Cardus is talking about the incredible 1947 season of Denis Compton (18 centuries in the season)

" Never have I been so deeply touched on a cricket ground as I was in this heavenly summer, when I went to Lord's to see a pale-faced crowd, existing on rations, the rocket bomb still in the ears of most folk - see this worn, dowdy crowd watching Compton. The strain of long years of anxiety and affliction passed from all hearts and shoulders at the sight of Compton in full sail, sending the ball here, there and everywhere, each stroke a flick of delight, a propulsion of happy sane healthy life."

perhaps I'll rejoin the pub team next summer.



5 comments:

Gaw said...

I love the idea of cricket. Unfortunately, apart from the mysterious exception of the home ashes series, I just find it too boring to watch. Perhaps, though, this is a mistake on my part and playing and watching are wholly incidental to the game, especially at the pub level?

Just the name Neville Cardus is redolent of pleasantness in the outfield.

worm said...

thats it though isn't it Gaw - the Idea of cricket

I think its quite boring too, but there's something that niggles me into thinking that I should give it a go, the same way that I feel I should give modern dance a go. Actually that was a lie, I will never give modern dance a go.

Kevin Musgrove said...

One of the joys of cricket is that you can be a social animal during the longeurs of a slow innings. This is why Test Match Special is such a joy.

Neville Cardus is always well worth a read.

worm said...

In the book Kevin, Cardus is described as on of the best sports writers of the era, although I am surprised to hear that you know of him! I think that the only two sports writers I could name are Simon Barnes and Norman Mailer!

Brit said...

Cricket is never boring, except when it is, in which case it is boring in the best possible way, like drinking in the sunshine is boring.