It’s the last thing you want to undertake in this weather right? A day of lessons all about cricket. You’d rather be spread eagled on any patch of grass, or knocking back the G & T’s in a pub garden. I know exactly how you feel. That’s why, for the first time ever I’ve cut down the lessons. Instead of five, there is one. A solitary lesson, based on my experience at the cricket on Sunday. Some common sense.
1) Common Sense
Ah common sense. That mystical, legendary lesson, which constantly eludes. Often I teach on the make believe, fantastical stories which occur each week. Not today though. In this article I have a bug bear. Something that requires undying attention. An issue which grips many cricket supporters, who spend hard earned cash on tickets to see their county or England play. Booze.
Yes, liquor. The devil’s drink. That sweet nectar which honies our instincts, plays on our mind and relinquishes all sense of reason. A drug which if introduced today, would undoubtedly be made illegal for the damaging health and societal effects. Still though, tastes good right?
Oh yes I drink about as much as the next guy. And why shouldn’t I? There’s nothing better than popping the lid on an ice cold VK and slurping down the syrupy juice. Particularly when I get home from teaching you ungrateful bastards. On an especially troubling day I may even switch to Smirnoff Ice. Don’t be embarrassed reader, I know you’re thinking it. Legend. Too cool for school.
But, there’s a time and a place for that sort of behaviour. Pubs, clubs, house parties, on a Friday night at home with your naughty girlfriend. Anywhere basically… BUT THE CRICKET.
It was a privilege to witness Jos Buttler’s magnificent century at Old Trafford on Sunday. A joy to watch Australia collapse. An excitement in seeing legends like Botham and Anderson on the pitch at end of play. I will remember every tense second. But how many guys could join me?
Drink was everywhere. Queueing for the bar meant you missed at least five overs play. As the day wore on, groups of lads staggered back to their seats. I get that people want to relax in the sun, have a few cold ones and enjoy the cricket. What I simply do not understand is why so many people (yep mainly groups of lads) get absolutely hammered. I’m not talking tipsy. Poleaxed. Wankered. Completely gone.
In the row next to me there were five guys ranging from late twenties to early forties, who by half past two had no idea what the fuck was going on. Half the time, one of them wasn’t even there, continuously travelling to the bar and presumably loo. They’d even smuggled bottles of gin and vodka past security (which to be fair was appalling). Whilst they offered a few chortling barbs to the Aussie fielders and a bit of good natured banter with people around them (including me, yes nerdy me with my scorecard attracted their attention!) by the England innings, talk had turned to genitals and girls.
‘I have the biggest dick on the row’ slurred Blondey.
‘Fuck off you do. I’ve seen your knob, it’s bulbous and round,’ chimed in Beardy.
‘Guys the 20 year old I’m going down on, ain’t seen larger,’ claimed Fatty.
Regular readers know I’m certainly no prude. I mean for one thing I was the one blessed with the biggest cock on that row. But truths aside, that kind of conversation and behaviour is pretty disgusting in a public scenario. Especially with a few kids dotted around. At one point the elderly lady behind them looked like she wanted to seize Buttler’s bat and tonk them round the head with it.
There’s a terrible drinking culture around cricket. It’ll be the same come the Blast next month. It’s why I’m beginning to see logic to Strauss introducing ‘The Hundred.’ However the solution is blindingly simple.
Unlimited drinking is only allowed in the party stand. Thus if people want to completely ignore cricket and get bladdered, they can do so together without disturbing others. Elsewhere a maximum of five drinks per person. That’s enough to get tipsy and feel confident in abusing an Aussie. But not enough that you lose all sense of reason. Unless you’re a light weight. In which case no drinks at all?
Genuine fans of our beautiful game, shouldn’t feel uncomfortable because a few blokes start to abuse each other. Likewise what kind of individual are you who spends forty quid on an England international, only to waste the majority of the match queuing, drinking and pissing? You can do that in a pub. Regulations must be tougher to prevent horrendous behaviour. Have a couple, that’s fine but if people don’t know their limit, measures should be in place to curtail sordid behaviour.
Cricket is a wonderful sport, full of freewheeling shots, tense drama and lethal bowling. When transfixed during Buttler’s innings, the light headed feeling is akin to ten pints of cider. As the winning runs are struck you lose all sense of reason, leaping up, punching the air and hugging your neighbour. You don’t need to drink to have fun at the cricket. Euphoria comes because of the sport, not in spite of it. Plus the next morning you won’t feel like you’ve been hit over the head with a cricket bat.
Unless that lady gets hold of you. In which case, tough luck.
At least she’ll remember what happened that day.