‘We’re all going on a summer holiday, no more working for a’… SHUT UP CLIFF! Whilst some of us can lounge around on deck chairs in Spain and Portugal, many are stuck in stifling hot classrooms working. The fun does not even start for us at HFAL, for we are in the hot patch of English cricket. Instead of staring into the unending ceaseless blue sea, I have to stare into the vacant blue eyes of my pubescent class. Who by the way do not want to be here either. So let’s get this over with quickly shall we? Mop that sweat off your brow for some Film Studies, Chivalry and Law.

1) Religious Education

We have a new Pope kids. You know how normally the Head of the Catholic Church looks like a body double of Darth Sidious in Star Wars? Well not this time. Forget Ed Sheeran, Ollie Pope is now the most popular ginger in the world. Barely older than some of you picking your nose right now, Pope is just 20 years old. 20! That’s not even old enough to have a drink with our friends across the pond. Although he can do drugs, so swings and roundabouts really. Which ironically is the new snorter providing a dizzy and epic high.

Many of you will have no idea who this ginge is. Well let me educate you. Clean shaven, goggle eyed and the classic ‘boy next door,’ Ollie broke into the Surrey side at the back end of 2016. A dynamic middle order batsman he has racked up 684 runs, averaging 85.50 in 2018. Last winter he belted 994 runs in the notoriously tricky Sydney First Grade. Overall in 14 appearances for Surrey he has four centuries. Yep he is young, but England’s prayers may have been answered.

Forget Dawid ‘why am I here’ Malan. Ollie Pope has huge potential. Tomorrow he will become the fourth youngster under the age of 21 to play for England this year; after Crane, Bess and Curran. What’s the saying? If you’re good enough, you’re old enough. Two years ago Pope was playing schoolboy cricket. Tomorrow he will march out at Lords.

Pope’s ascension has been biblical; long may his reign last. Amen.

2) Film Studies

The Godfather. Gladiator. The Little Mermaid. Not only is this a peek at my DVD collection, it’s also a swagger down quality street. All blockbusters. Full of adventure, tension, devastation and drama. Just like the first test at Edgbaston. If that was a tin of chocolates it’d be the orange crunch and green triangle all mixed into one. Or rather a box of Heroes. Dam that would have been a better analogy. Oh well I can but Dream.

Far from melting in the Birmingham sun, the first test between England and India was a stone cold belter. Winning by 31 runs, the scenes were akin to the spin tingling drama of 2005. Every bowler put in an Oscar performance. Broad was ‘Legally Blonde.’ Jimmy, ‘The Burnley Express.’ Curran, ‘The Sundance Kid.’ Rashid, ‘You Only Live Twice.’ Stokes, ‘Raging Bull.’

England’s momentum will be vital moving into the second test. Call ups for Pope and Woakes, mean a slightly different side will take to the field. With Stokes in the dock for ‘12 Angry Men’ England will be weakened. Stokes is a fighter. Although admittedly making him watch ‘Fight Club’ for three days solid may not have been Bayliss’ wisest decision. If England believe the Lord’s surface will turn, Moeen will replace Stokes. That leaves a three pronged pace attack, with third option Curran. ‘Risky Business.’ If not Moeen, then Woakes will be replacement.

As for India, expect Yadav to make way for Kuldeep, as the mystery spinner returns. Plus, they may drop Dhawan for Pujara. Whatever changes are made, this test is sure to carry on right where Edgbaston left off and provide a thrilling sequel. Think ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, or ‘The Godfather Two.’

After all, if it’s ‘Jaws: The Revenge’ we’re completely screwed.

3) Psychology

Kids, get ready for a lesson full of hindsight. The mind is a wonderful tool but it can also mess you up. Big time. For on Tuesday Old Trafford bore witness to one of the lamest ends to a T20 match ever. Lancashire Lightning required 6 off the final over against Durham Jets. Their progress had been steady up to that point.

Opener Alex Davies launched off to a flyer, tonking a half century from 32 balls. Stand in skipper Dane Vilas was steady with 23. The target of 154 was well within sight; just 21 from final three overs, to propel the Lightning into second.

An expectant crowd jostled with excitement. Coming into over 20, the hosts were 6 wickets down with one maximum to win. Here’s where the madness began. Like an infectious malady, James Faulkner attempted an extravagant smash. The crowd stood to acclaim and sank back in frustration. Caught in the deep. No matter still just a run a ball. No rush. Next ball Danny Lamb caught a whiff of mad, as he attempted a ramp shot. Against a spinner. No run. 6 off 4. Still no need to…

PANIC. Lamb skipped down the track and was cleaved in two with a butchers knife. Stumped behind. In came Matt Parkinson who missed his first ball and still with 6 to win skied one down long leg. With 6 off the last ball, Lester could only knock it along the floor and from an unassailable position, Lancashire lost.

Credit can go to young spinner Liam Trevaskis, but really the batsman threw it away. Once panic sets in, the mind completely goes and chaos ensures. Lancs now sit 4th and will need a psychologist with unearthly skills to climb out of this hole.

4) Law

Have to be careful with this lesson I reckon. It concerns the ‘Bristol Brawler’ Ben Stokes and his trial currently taking place. Clearly we, here at HFAL have no inclination to be sued or otherwise done for slander. What we do know is Stokes and Alex Hales were refused entry to a night club, had a discussion with two openly gay men and something happened which caused a brawl, with two other guys. Them is facts.

Thus far the shining halo above Stokes’ head, appears to be dimming slightly. Where initially he claimed it was self-defence and protection of these gay men, the prosecution is painting him as the abuser and bully. Problem is that without a microphone, who really knows what was said?

Anyway enough from us about the trail. Here’s a limerick to lighten the mood.

There was a young lad called Stokes,

Who appeared to be quite choked.

He wanted to get in a club

And rub a dub dub

The next thing you know he ‘allegedly’ knocked out two blokes!

The trail continues. (Always wanted to write that!)

5) Chivalry

Final lesson class. This one concerns the ancient art of chivalry. Described by the Oxford Dictionary as, ‘the medieval knightly system with its religious, moral and social codes.’ Rescuing damsels in distress, fighting fairly and respecting the opposition, there was a time when chivalry was the only code. Alas, gone are those noble days. Now all is anarchy.

None more so than in the Somerset Cricket League where a most unjustly action was committed. A crime so abhorrent it left the five strong crowd, red in the face with rage. The match was Minehead versus Purnell. On 98 and with his side two runs from victory, batsman Jay Darrell suffered a heinous crime. Verging on his maiden club century, Darrell was left stranded when the Purnell bowler lobbed the ball to the boundary. A no ball and four byes meant Minehead won but poor Jay missed the bliss of a century.

That bowler? What an arse! Who is such a mean little runt that instead of bowling using your skill to prevent runs, you throw the ball to the boundary? Classless. Mindless behaviour. The scandal rocked the cricketing world. Effigies were burnt of the bowler. Although nobody knows his name or what he looks like.

Who is this scallywag? Well Somersetarians I urge you to search the fields for a player cowering in shame. Banned for 9 matches for breach of conduct he’ll be crying his eyes out into scrumpy. Oh how we long for those chivalrous times once more!

Alright class you’ve sat through enough crap. Off you scuttle. Homework is to read the entire Bible, watch every Disney film and practice your right hook. Just in case you come across Ben on a night out. I’m off to sit in a field and cry over scrumpy. Class dismissed!