It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. By that we mean all-encompassing darkness, blistering winds and clogged up roads. Parents’ frantically dropping kids at school, before whizzing around the shops grabbing last minute presents. Not here though. Oh yes, your smug teacher already has every present wrapped, food purchased and even started on the mince pies. Just a shame we have to be in class right now. Let’s charge through these lessons learned, like Rudolph cantering round the globe.
1) Carol Singing
‘Ding dong merrily on high, in heaven Steve Irwin is singing. Ding dong salute the crowd, is riv’n with Aussies singing. Gloria, Australia has finally won a test match!’
An insight into the Australian dressing room there as maligned skipper Tim Paine, uproariously leads his men in a traditional carol. For the first time in eight attempts they have won a test match. Comfortably levelling the series against India by 146 runs. Chasing 287 for victory on the final day, the visitors were never going to recover from 112-5 and so it proved as they managed a mere 38 more. Nathan Lyon being the orange in a stocking which India simply could not handle, as he wrapped up match figures of 8-106. Only Virat Kohli managed a decent score over the two innings, with his century in the first providing hope to those around him. Yet, like a star on top of the Christmas tree, he had to fall at some point. Caught by the lurking Khawaja for just 17 in the second.
Victory here means Paine’s elves can enjoy the festive season. Especially Travis Head who reached another half century; he’s really been knocked into shape. That BBQ turkey will never have tasted sweeter. Except of course for last year, when they were 3-0 up in the Ashes at this point. As for India, Virat was bad mouthed by his captain counterpart during Vijay’s innings, with Paine exclaiming, ‘I know he’s your captain, but you can’t seriously like the bloke.’
‘Hark the hypocrisy singing, tempers were frayed in Perth Stadium. Hark look who’s talking, nobody gives a shit about you Aussies…’
2) Business Studies
Someone who’s simply having a wonderful Christmas time is Ashley Giles. This week the former England spinner has been announced as the new Director of Cricket by the ECB. With large shoes to fill, after the departure of Santa Claus, Andrew Strauss, Giles takes the reins in January. As 2019 is a bulging sack full of present’s year, he’ll have to work those reindeer hard. England will be looking to find two trophies in their stockings. One significantly larger than the other. The ODI World Cup alongside the Ashes Urn.
Whilst the ‘King of Spain’ appears an obvious candidate, his track record in management has seen more ups and downs than my Christmas presents over the last few years. One year an electric guitar, the next a donation to building a well in Africa (I’ll leave you to decide which is the high). Just like Giles who was sacked in 2014 from coaching the ODI national side, oversaw Lancashire relegation and subsequent promotion as director of cricket at Old Trafford from 2014 to 2016 and is currently director of sport at Warwickshire, who have been promoted this year.
Mind you unlike those roles, the seat he now slides into has been transformed with a plump goose feather cushion. England are in an excellent position, thanks to the significant efforts of Straussy. As long as Giles continues along his path, England may wake up on Christmas morn to that bulging sack of presents.
Gravity eh? Sticking us all on terra cotta with all the force of Grannies behind after demolishing that plate of sprouts for Christmas dinner. Indeed this week there has been a suitably stinky idea from the Big Bash League who have decided to dispense with the coin toss. A traditional way of choosing which side will bat or bowl first. Something which has been around ever since Miss Penny Farthing was so fed up of the ongoing debate as to who should bat first back in 1809, that she intervened with a… well farthing!
Naturally at a time when Amazon Echoes will be the gift of choice this yuletide, the good old fashioned CD player is thrown into the trash, Or donated to charity shops, although even some of them aren’t taking the prehistoric listening device. Just as with the coin toss, which has been donated to charity and replaced by the Bat Flip. Nope it’s not an actor dressed as Batman doing a flip, instead a cricket bat is being flipped to decide the start of the Big Bash this year.
The Adelaide Strikers will not call ‘heads’ or ‘tails’ instead it’ll be ‘hills’ or ‘flats.’ In England this will be changed to ‘Essex’ or ‘Lancashire.’ (Excellent geography joke there) But what if the bat lands on its side? Well luckily the BBL head, Kim McConnie is reassuring in his assessment that ‘the science’ has been fool proof. Cue sketch where Aussie minions rush around in top secret laboratories flipping bats…
What utter nonsense! It’s merely a marketing gimmick, especially considering the flip will take place half an hour before play begins; when the ground will only be half full. I’d rather they played rock, paper, scissors to be honest. Or, oh I don’t know, toss a coin?
*Trumpets blaring* Arise Sir Cook! Today we heard the splendiferous news that everyone’s favourite Alastair is set to receive a knighthood in the New Year Honours List. He’ll be the first cricketer since Ian Botham, way back in 2007, to be dubbed by Her Maj. What a Christmas present for the 25 December born messiah. It comes in recognition of his contribution to cricket and who can blame Lizbet for getting all excited?
As we always acclaim, Cook has broken practically all of the England batsman records. Most centuries with 33. Highest runs at 12,472. Longest continuous test run of any player with 159. And then on an international level he was the youngest player of any nationality to reach the landmark of 6,000, 7,000, 8,000, 9,000, 10,000, 11,000 and 12,000 runs in Test cricket.
Got your breath back yet? A humble ambassador, inspiring role model and genuinely lovely man, Alastair becomes only the tenth England cricketer to receive the honour. Eight of whom were knighted in the 20th century. Plus it just sounds good doesn’t it, Sir Alastair Cook. Better than Sir Jimmy Anderson at any rate. Although I reckon that won’t be far off…
5) Christmas Spirit
Final lesson this week is one brim-full of Christmas spirit. With the festivities a mere week away, are you hanging all the stockings on the wall yet? Got that plump turkey all ready for stuffing? Filled the cabinet with alcohol aplenty? If you have there’s still one thing you’re missing. A festive podcast!
Which is exactly why you need to download our latest HFAL show, a truly special one at this time of year. A celebratory 50th episode, jammed pack with highlights from the past twelve months. Forget the Big Fat Quiz of the Year, if you want a cricket round up then we are the only place to visit. Including sketches from #SandpaperGate, The 100, England internationals, Surrey county champions and of course Cookie’s retirement. It’s been a blast of a year and we can tip you over the edge into a gut wrenching, rip roaring and gin soaked Christmas spirit. Who knows maybe you can pass on the pod as a pressie to your nearest and dearest?
Let the festivities commence!
There we go class, lessons learned full of tidings of comfort and joy. Comfort and joy. We’ll be back in the New Year with some more educational musings, but for now your homework is to eat ten pigs in blankets, kiss your crush under the mistletoe and polish of that bottle of Baileys. Merry Christmas everyone. Class dismissed!