Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A seaming wicket in 2012?

It may not be a new cricket season but it's a new year; time for resolutions, changes and phoenix-like risings from the ashes (or the Ashes?). The face of our great game continued to evolve throughout 2011 but much of it was more akin to that performed by a plastic surgeon than the leisurely seasonal growth cricket has become accustomed to in years past.

As something of a traditionalist, I may not look upon such changes fondly, but there is little doubt the previous few years will be reflected upon as the current protagonists begin to age. Whether that reflection is tinged with joy or disdain will only be realised in the fullness of time; many of the decisions of today may not bear fruit, or poison the orchard, so to speak, until the next generation of cricketers don the whites - though in fact, the only thing white remaining may be the colour of the ball....

Writing a blog isn’t overly natural for me, but musings about the relative merits of the 1980’s/1990’s Windies sides and Steve Waugh’s all conquering Australians, whether T20 is ruining modern cricket, or if the BCCI is in fact holding the cricketing world to ransom, are far better shared and discussed in an open forum than trying to argue both sides in my head. So, in essence, that’s what this is all about; that, and not using my wife as a sounding board for discussions on The Don and Dr. Grace. I have no illusions of conquering the world of cricketing journalism or topping KP for followers on Twitter, but finding a medium to air my views, and reading the views of others, as opposed to the dissenting voices in my head, has merit.

A little of myself then, if only to provide context to my mutterings. Tendulkar, Dravid, even Ponting are slightly outscoring me in years, but in talent, we are poles apart. At one time, I knew which end of a bat to hold, but I haven’t picked one up in anger in 13 years -  the season I was coaxed into playing six or seven years ago brought about little more than a whimper. Most of my cricketing memories are more of those I played with and against than any personal achievement, though I will always treasure the two international scalps I took; they were cricket internationals, I was not! My son isn’t yet old enough to wield the willow with any ferocity, and whilst I would love to see him spending his summers toiling away in the middle, I have no wish to live vicariously through him – he’ll make his own choices when he’s ready.  

I live in possibly the greatest country on earth, New Zealand, and whilst I have followed the varying fortunes of New Zealand cricket (not the Black Caps – we’re not a franchise) relentlessly since the 1980s, my idols were not Sir Paddles (or King Dick as Chris Kuggeleijn so eloquently put it) or Hogan. My developing years were spent in an era dominated by the mighty West Indies, and I looked and listened for any snippet of Marshall, Richards, Haynes, Lara et al., and it is that fantastic troupe of players, and their contemporaries, who shaped my enthusiasm for the game, nay religion, of cricket. I imagine that many youths of that period throughout the cricketing world were similarly uplifted by the express pace of a quartet of quicks and the sheer brutality of the belligerent Windies batsmen. If not, they missed out on a treat most of us will likely never see again. In a slightly different way, Wasim Raja, a Pakistani cricketer ahead of his time who would have taken T20 by storm, added to that love and understanding of the game. The year I worked with him in Caterham, Surrey, nearly two decades ago was one of the very best of my short life – I learnt things that neither coaching nor personal experience could ever teach me. His sad passing was a loss not only for cricket, but all who had ever met him – may he rest in peace.  

As you may have guessed, I am, to coin a phrase, a cricketing tragic. I have a large collection of cricketing tomes, signed photographs, shirts and bats, though with a young son and another on the way, the vast majority currently sit boxed in a storage facility awaiting a summer when the bride allows me a man cave or the kids fly the coup; I think the latter is more likely! It would be amiss of me not to mention a growing collection of Wisdens – the bible of cricket, and one of the most addictive pieces of collective writing I have ever read. I can settle into a test played at any time (at least I will be able to when I have them all – see the earlier comment about kids) through my little yellow books and relive some of the matches that shaped our great game.  

There’s really not a lot else of me that has any significance to this blog, but there are a few underlying reasons why I chose this year to start writing:
  • One of my younger mates decided to write a travel blog, and it’s fantastic – cheers Becks 
  • There are only so many sycophantic commentators (or cheerleaders, depending on your viewpoint) I can listen to without wanting to throw something at the screen; I think I’m better to write my thoughts down – it’s cheaper and hopefully more therapeutic 
  • Cricket continues to be run by money and marketing men with little appreciation or understanding of our game – if you think otherwise, have a read about the man-of-the-match from the 2nd test between Australia and New Zealand in Hobart (Google: an Australian’s lament) 
  • I pass comment on a lot of other pieces of writing and blogs, all about cricket. I figured I should try sitting on the other side  
  • Cricket is in a state of flux, which while disturbing, makes for compelling reading and writing, hopefully….  
  • T20 continues to dominate most countries and the marketing dollars that go with that – is that the best thing for cricket’s future?
I’m not sure how regular my musings will be, but I will try and put pen to paper once a week. Next time, I might even get onto a serious cricket topic…… 

Thanks for reading; it’s good for the ego!

1 comment:

  1. Great read! Looking forward to reading more. Get on Twitter and post it there too.


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