We’ve had empty chairs at empty tables for a couple of weeks now class. Apart from everyone auditioning for the latest production of Les Mis, your weary with life teacher took a little break. Travelling to an idyllic location for a fortnights rest, mind emptied from any cricket chatter. Sun, sea, sex, sand, sangria… is what I hoped for. Instead I ended up on the Llyn Peninsula in Wales! Therefore wet, windy, walking, weirdos and the Welsh (same thing really) would be a more apt description. Nevertheless I return brandishing more Welsh in my brain than English in yours. Nawr yn paratoi ar gyfer pum gwers criced (Now prepare for five lessons learned).
Howzat am chwerthin?!
1) Movie Studies
As England end 2018 ranked second in world cricket, winning seven from their last eight, their year has been a classic rags to riches story. One which would cause standing ovations from cinema goers throughout the land. Forget Cinderella Man, Slumdog Millionaire and The Princess and the Frog; who genuinely could have predicted that as Joe Root slouched off the MCG, his ragged outfit would end the year with their first whitewash in Asia? Particularly as the unsinkable HMS England had struck a devastating iceberg. Let me take you back to that 4-0 humiliation…
‘A momentous crunch was the final straw. Hysteria broke out with those on board scrambling for the lifeboats; ‘women and children first’ was the cry. Hands pulled Mason Crane and Tom Curran into the apparent safety of the wooden berths. An elderly lady sacrificed herself, allowing the freezing waters to rob her breathless, so ex Captain Cook could survive. Her last remaining wish as she descended into the bottomless depths was for the grizzled veteran to have one final voyage.
But what’s this? There – look! Four figures are still on board. Flames dance off their grim faces. One, a portly, clean shaven chap valiantly takes a leap of faith. Yet at the last moment loses his Ballance and is skewered on the ships flagpole. Undaunted by his mates pig on a spit appearance, a tall bearded figure waves frantically. Before sliding into the freezing water and uses his powerful arms to drive forwards. Yet as he appears to be gaining on the lifeboats, a sudden surge from the ships engines acts like a sinkhole and inexorably churns him backwards. With a sickening crunch those limbs are shattered… into Vincemeat.
A shriek climbs above the roaring of the sea, ‘helpu fi os gwelwch yn dda!’ One of the remaining men is attempting to hail a lifeboat which sways to within jumping distance. If it could just come a metre or two nearer the ship, this man’s life may be saved. Yet nestled on board is an EDL supporter.
In a cruel twist of fate the shaven headed bloke, for once not looking out of place with his top off and Britannia muscles on display, catches the foreign dialect. Acting with surprising quick thinking he bares his toothless gum and swivels those bloodshot eyes on Lieutenant Broad. ‘Ee if tha fuckin’ p***** Welsh sheep sh*gging b**tard gets on this raft I’ll maul your pretty face off your pretty shoulders!’ Understandably not wishing his boyish looks to be raked away, like Gollum tearing apart a fish, the Lieutenant pretends not to hear Dawid Malan’s sobbing cries. Unrescued, unloved.
Left to rot, the stubbled Welshman takes off his cap and stands, head bowed, with his arm around the one man who is calm amongst all the chaos. Flinty eyed and resolute, the oval face of Mark Stoneman is resigned to his fate. After all he shouldn’t have been on HMS England in the first place. But he feels proud to die with a blue lions cap on his head and the song of Jerusalem in his heart.’
With that being a double lesson class we best move on quickly; straight into the vain world of modelling. For over in Sri Lanka, England discovered a fellow who gives Jimmy Anderson a run for his money. Sporting designer stubble on cheeks which you can cut glass on, Ben Foakes is the new England model. As Anderson contemplates the bottle of bleach in his bathroom cabinet (Ed – I must stress this is a reference to him dying his hair bleach blonde and not to do with ending his life), sponsor deals up and down the country are being ripped up. Kendall Jenner? Get out of the way! Chrissy Teigen? Beware the green eyed monster of jealousy. David Gandy? Stuff yourself with M&S biccies because you’re about to be replaced.
Whilst I rapidly delete my internet history before the better half returns home, Ben Foakes must be rubbing those moisturised hands with glee. From being virtually unknown outside of the county circuit, he has burst onto the international scene with all the promise of a white Kit Kat chunky. Whereas Nestlé’s experiment failed, Ed Smith has yet again picked a winner. With a debut century, 277 runs at 69.25 and being the first England cricketer to win Player of the Series in his inaugural tests, Foakes’ breakthrough has been a joy to behold. With bat in hand he is calm and controlled; behind the stumps a restless cat, leaping this way and that. Comfortable in whites or leopard print tights, you decide.
When you add in Jack Leach, who brings the chic look, England have all bases covered for a romping cat walk. Just don’t tell Alastair.
Oh don’t hammer your heads on the table, they still deserve it! Australia begin their first test series at home, since that B&Q happy day, against India on Wednesday night. Having been riotously thumped by a Faf du Plessis inspired South Africa in the recent ODI series, Justin Langer must surely be feeling some trepidation with the arrival of the number one side in world cricket. Especially when considering the test side consists of nuts and bolts players. Pieced together in an attempt to find a rigorous structure. Whilst Kohli may face a stern test with the pace of Mitchell Starc, Tim Paine’s side can barely hold a bat between them.
There’s new born babies Marcus Harris and Aaron Finch, struggling to walk infants Peter Handscomb and Travis Head, hormonal and temperamental teens, Shaun and Mitch Marsh and voice barely broke adult, Usman Khawaja. Pretty uninspiring. On pace surfaces they could collapse like a pack of IKEA shelves, for the Indian attack is becoming a hungry pack of wolves. Kumar is deadly when the ball swings, Sharma has rebirthed into a lean machine and who can forget Bumrah’s crazy ass action over the English summer.
But… history favours the Aussies. No Asian team has ever won a series Down Under. EVER. Plus India’s batting is about as fragile as a hard boiled egg which has been run over by a steam roller. Are Australia ready to turn on the roller’s engine though? There has never been a better chance for King Kohli to make history in Oz.
I wonder who we’ll root for.
A penultimate lesson of five lessons learned this week comes from the ECB who have decided to, wait for it… modernise. In scenes unlikely as a misogynist DJ asking Lionel Messi to ‘Twerk,’ there has been an update to their ‘residency rules.’ Instead of an overseas player having to wait seven years to qualify, it is now just three short winters. From 1 January 2019 players will need a British citizenship, three years residency and to not have played international or domestic cricket in another full member country within the past three years. Simple eh?
Of course this ruling has absolutely nothing to do with the prospects of talented allrounder Jofra Archer. It’s merely a coincidence that instead of waiting until 2023, the Barbados born Sussex star is now eligible to play for England next year! With the One Day World Cup and Ashes in 2019, next summer has the potential to be a glorious one for English cricket. Particularly if the bloke who takes his wickets at 24 apiece and averages 36.20 is in the squad.
Hmm I don’t think the ECB aren’t quite as stupid as they first appear…
5) Circus Skills
Five Lessons Learned ends with news that the aging clown that is T20 cricket has been replaced by a youthful, even more brightly coloured trooper. T10. Nope we aren’t playing a game of Battleships, over the past few weeks a few England players have taken part in their first T10 competition. Presumably in stadiums with no toilets, no food outlets and no seats. It’ll be over before your feet hurt!
Shorter than my Year 8 school cricket matches, the format was lit up by England stars Jonny Bairstow and Alex Hales. The former who smashed 84* from 24, before the latter went even larger making 87* off 32 balls. Which included 32 in one over. To be fair I once had an over go for that many; although it did consist of 16 deliveries. Despite their heroics though the tournament was won by the Northern Warriors who triumphed by 22 runs over Pakhtoons. Largely thanks to Rovman Powells’ 61* and Chris Green’s 2-11, which prevented the Shahid Afridi led side a first T10 title. (Not saying much really as this is the competitions second year)
Afridi believes this format could enable cricket to become an Olympic sport. By that I think he means a resurrected version of Monty Python’s Silly Olympics. Ah, stop clowning around Shahid!
On that bombshell we end your five lessons learned. As you’ve missed out on hours of learning, your homework is to write a ten word poem on why T10 is shite, Google images of models and create your own England inspired movie. I’m off to pub, to get rub a dub dubbed. See ten word poems are great. Class dismissed!