Dreary conditions overhead, a class full of spotty teens in front and a nagging thirst for booze inside. Oh great it’s Wednesday, only halfway through the school week. Sigh. I guess one way to make the dull ache of boredom creep away is by providing 5 lessons learned in the cricketing world this week. We’ve got some Gaelic, psychology, home economics and more. Now grit your teeth, sit up straight and open your ears for the first lesson is about to begin.
1) Home Economics
Those of you under the age of thirty will probably have no bloody clue what Home Economics is. Yeah me neither, so I typed it into that google search box thingy and here’s what came out; ‘deals with the relationship between individuals, communities and the environment which they live.’ Ah right so it’s one of those subjects then. A made up, rather tenuous hour spent learning what’s the right temperature to cook a roast chicken at, or why luminous green wallpaper is the number one cause of insomnia. Naturally I’m going to use this to my advantage and provide a tenuous link to cricket (nothing new then).
I’d say a sofa was a key part of any household environment right? Exactly. So wouldn’t you bow down to my genius when I tell you that yesterday, young Somerset spinner Dominic Bess was choosing a sofa in IKEA when he received the delightful news of his England test call up. Ed Smith’s call was a perfect pause in an argument with his missus over why leather is an awful call for a sofa. No debate is there? Leather not only sticks to your sweaty back (as any teen sleeping over a mates can attest), if there’s every a warm day it emits a sickly smell of sweat and roast beef. Bess’ beaming face is probably the happiest sight in IKEA, only beaten by somebody sampling the café meatballs for the first time.
With his Somerset partner Leach breaking a finger, Bess receives the nod ahead of Amar Virdi and Moeen Ali. Although he’s only played sixteen matches, he takes his wickets at 22 apiece; top drawer in anyone’s book. Now it remains to be seen if he can find his way out of the jungle that is IKEA and onto the field of Lord’s come May 24th.
Unlike the school taught subject of Sociology, which reeks of kids taking it easy, my class actually studies the relationship between people. Specifically of the relationship Ed Smith seeks to build with his England team. Unlike sofa’s most cricketers aren’t inanimate objects and there will have been a few angry and hurt reactions to his 12 man selection. Just yesterday morning, we were championing call ups for the likes of Nick Gubbins, Ben Foakes, Amar Virdi and Jake Ball. Whilst the debut to Dom Bess is a youthful move in the right direction, does Jos Buttler deserve to be picked ahead of, say Ben Foakes? Yes he may have smashed five consecutive half centuries and taken 28 runs off one over yesterday, but test match cricket is rather different.
Aggers describes it as a ‘hugely positive move’ but I’m not so sure. After all, Jos hasn’t played a test for 18 months, averages less than 31 in his eighteen tests and in his last seven innings for Lancashire in county cricket only averages 17. There’s no doubt he can swing his bat with all the strength of Tarzan but what happens if England do an, well England, and are 100-5 when he comes in. Does he have the defensive technique and longevity mind-set to dig in deep? Questionable at best.
Also what the Blowers was the point in the past five rounds of county cricket? Instead of travelling up and down the country scouting talent Smith has merely put his feet up and turned on the IPL. Foakes averages over 50 in seven innings; clearly that counts for nothing. He was also the back-up keeper on the Ashes and New Zealand tours. Again, who gives a shit? Clearly not Ed Smith that’s for sure. The lesson here then is simple; when life gives you lemonades f**king throw them at the chairman of selectors.
Not sure if you’ve noticed yet class but there’s a bitter and anger in the lessons this week. I’ll probably be proved wrong but I feel many of my students have done the hard graft with thousands of hours put in, all for a grade of C- and a smack on the arm. And no, it’s not that my teaching is bad. Not when compared to the chairman of the ECB anyways. Speaking from the inside of his cell at ECB Asylum, Colin Graves repeatedly insisted that young people are not attracted to cricket. Like a lunatic ranting how the world will end by 2020 (there’s my next piece) Graves declared that cricket was doomed. Doomed I tell you!
With all the wisdom of that Trump bloke across the pond, our chairman pointed to surveys and interviews which he had clearly concocted in his head, insisting kids need more excitement. Either that or the surveys were carried out by the Russians. Now there’s a conspiracy yet to unravel…
Bleating on about creating a format which was simpler and shorter, Graves has clearly never looked out of his cell window to the park opposite. I’m pretty sure I heard 50,000 kids have recently signed up to local cricket clubs across England (fake news, FAKE NEWS!). If that’s the case, we have yet to reach the point where youngsters think the strip is an outdoor night club or bails are just balls misspelt. Yes it’s not as popular as football, but when has it ever been? The peak period of the last fifteen years was 2005, when cricket was on free to air TV. There’s the answer Gravesy. Get it back where everybody can view it!
But no, muttering on about how 60% of the new crowds will be attending their first cricket event, Graves is living in cloud cuckoo land. It’s what happens when you get old class; you create all sorts of crazy theories and crackpot ideas. Live fast, die young. That’s the motto.
4) Science (or to be more accurate, Physics)
For centuries physicists have been pondering the age old question, ‘what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?’ It’s simple. When that force is Sam Curran and the object is Yorkshire batsmen, then the force wins every single time. Like a paperclip to a magnet, Curran’s bowling was direct and accurate. He was instrumental in Surrey’s innings and 17 run destruction of Yorkshire, Geiger countering 10-101 over the match. In the first innings Curran was like an express train, steaming Lyth and Root out LBW, whilst also making Indian batsman Pujara look like an old fashioned steam engine.
Curran, the younger bro of already capped Tom, has certainly stepped up to the plate whilst his slick haired fam, counts the dollars over in the IPL. Prolific left arm swing bowling has been missing from England’s attack ever since Ryan Sidebottom sidled out of view; were Curran to continue this form he’ll certainly curry favour with Ed Smith. Indeed Curran can learn from the long haired Ryan who has made the transition from aging pro to Surrey bowling coach quicker than you can say, ‘no wonder ‘he can’t use tin opener properly, hes cack handed.’ (Cack handed meaning left handed in Yorkshire and tin opener meaning ‘to bat’)
The Yorkies were manky, mingin’ and mitherer, with Curran snatching three wickets in six balls in the second innings. He contributed to unbeaten Surrey’s second win of the campaign, lifting them into third place. With the final round of county matches complete there were also Saturn like scores for Vince (201*), Hildreth (184), Pope (158*) and Poynter (170). Proving that the early season bowler friendly conditions have fallen more rapidly than the apple onto Newton’s head.
For Sam Curran though, his bright bulb performances of the season so far, have the current flowing through Surrey, meaning they’ll be buzzing going into the first round of the Royal London One Day Cup.
The final lesson learned this week is that Ireland can play test cricket. Not just relying on a bit of the wee Irish luck either. In their inaugural match against Pakistan, Ireland proved that they can compete. With aging players, such as 39 year old Ed Joyce alongside fresh faced kids, Ireland could have fallen flat. Instead they were pretty close to completing the ‘Miracle of Malahide’ as they had Pakistan reeling at 14-3, chasing 160. Thanks to Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam’s 126 run fourth wicket stand, the visitors got over the line, moments before it pissed with rain.
Man of the match was the vertigo defying Kevin O’Brien. A decent fourth day’s crowd witnessed an unforgettable fire, as O’Brien combined desire with the sweetest timing you’ll ever see. There was no moment of surrender in his 118 and it was with pride that he looked to the window in the skies as he completed his maiden century. It’s hoped this test will be one of many to come. And who knows in places where the streets have no name, Kevin O’Brien and his band of brothers can be the inspiration, so that kids will soon be playing on O’Brien Avenue or Rankin Road.
Cracking stuff. There you have it another day at school complete. They say schooldays are the best of your life, but really that’s only if you die when you’re 18. Homework is to listen to U2, visit your grandparents and stuff your face with IKEA meatballs. Now undo that wedgie, and get the hell out of my classroom. I’m off for a Guinness. Class dismissed!