Oh my goodness. I do not believe it. For once we actually have some fun lessons in store for you today. Complete and utter shock! I am in a good mood, which happens about as often as Snow Patrol release a new album. And no, it’s not because I’ve discovered a new brand of cider, or found a pair of jeans which suit me; England put in a brilliant performance and won a test match. It’s a miracle they’ve managed to compete in one, let alone taste the sweet succour of victory. So this week, lie back, put your feet on the desk and enjoy some party planning, circus skills, music and more.
1) Party Planning
A subject which I’ll confess I have never taught before is party planning. My idea of a swell party is playing a good old game of backgammon, whilst munching on prawn sandwiches and cheese sticks. If I really want to go crazy, the chessboard is whipped out. You ain’t ever seen a party like a chess and cheese party. The risqué jokes about stinky pawns are enough to make any self-respecting grand master blush.
Anyway enough about my thumping parties. The party you’ll be planning is one for England. Not since August 2017 have we celebrated. The Ashes came and went like the adolescent party where all the ‘cool’ kids down shots and snog, whilst the nervous nerd cries in the corner. The tour of New Zealand was a stag party where the best man picked a fight with the groom. Whilst the first test against Pakistan felt about as much fun as a party in a morgue. Now though we can go wild.
For England showed fire and passion. Pakistan were knocked over like a piñata. Broad was rampant, Cook caught a catch and Curran curried favour. On his return to the side Keaton Jennings batted with an iron grip of determination; the first half century opening stand since November was built. Like baking a birthday cake, all the ingredients were there. A gorgeous, sweet, mouth-watering flavour; with a cherry on the top called Jos Buttler.
A party is very much deserved for those guys, however one perfectly executed party ain’t enough. For now, the hangovers are minimal; the party bags full, the music ideal, the atmosphere electric. Come August and India, let’s hope we don’t revert to vomiting teens, allergic reactions to food, shite house music and drunken fights. Let’s make this a summer party to remember kids.
2) Home Economics
Occasionally us teachers get things wrong. Like the time Mr Thorogood persuaded Ben Douglas to bet all his pocket money on the world ending in 2012. Or Miss Webbington believed the Taj Mahal was in Saudi Arabia. Both crazy. Both adamant until the very last that they were correct. And consequently, both sacked.
Unlike them I am willing to admit my mistakes. Holding my hands up I confess to being wrong about a member of the England team. A few weeks ago I was irate, veins on my forehead bulging in disbelief at the return of Jos Buttler. He can only play one way I screamed until red in the face (not long then). But I was wrong. For Buttler was a beacon of light in these two test matches.
At Lord’s he played with the defensive capabilities of Geoff Boycott. Where that might have been purely a fluke, at Headingley he continued defending stoutly. On the evening of the second day, despite being placed under pressure he was calm. It seems an advantage of sliding in from IPL duties is an ability to perform on the big stage. Buttler is unfazed by the type of situation he found himself in, for he’s performed in front of crowds of 80,000. Clearly he’s also a bit wiser in the head; even if he does need a motivational quote of ‘fuck it’ to succeed. I’d have thought ‘an innings of a hundred starts with a single’ would suffice but never mind.
Next morning Buttler served up a sparkling display of power hitting. One of the biggest sixes Headingley has witnessed was struck. In motoring on to 80, Buttler looked certain to reach his debut hundred; denied only through the car crash of Broad and Jimmy. He fulfilled the free role Ed Smith entrusted him with and if he continues to shine England’s shoes, this could be the greatest decision since somebody decided to slice bread.
Shakespeare once wrote; ‘if music be the food of love play on.’ Nonsense Willy old boy. If this week has taught us anything it’s that music is the food of hate. In the wake of Michael Vaughan’s assertion that Stuart Broad should be dropped, the blonde haired boy band member was angry. Gone were his songs about ‘Everybody in Love’ or ‘What Makes You Beautiful.’ This was a vengeful Broad pumped full of ‘The Number of The Beast’ and ‘I Don’t Like (playing on) Mondays.’ There was a steely determination in his eyes.
If he was a musician, he’d be a drummer, lashing out in an apparent reckless but in reality controlled manner. Broad set the beat for the match. Jimmy was his lead guitarist, providing monster solos in times of need; like the ball which dismissed Azhar Ali. Anderson had Pakistan on his guitar strings; they were in the palm of his hand. Woakes provided bass, chugging along at a steady rate. Not seeking the limelight, he nevertheless crept into eardrums with a couple of solid notes. Sam Curran on debut played tambourine; kind of pointless but had one moment where it sounded quality. Dom Bess finished off Pakistan’s second innings, like the keyboardist who’s finally allowed a brief moment of glory.
Where England were like a singer who’s finally found their voice, Pakistan flopped like X Factor winners. One week everything clicks, they have the record deal and a tour underway, the next they forget the words, attempt to change their sound and disappear from public view. Matt Cardle anyone? Pakistan offered no fighting spirit; in the second innings they meekly surrendered. In the first it was only down to a wagging tail they made 174. How much was the doggy in the window? About as cheap as being bowled out for a combine match total of 308.
England were loving angels, Pakistan went down in a burning ring of fire.
It is with a tinge of sadness that I must report the end of a test series. After just two test matches, Pakistan and England will part ways. Due to a jam packed schedule and the sticky fingers of the ECB, we have no deciding match. Instead we must look back at two tests which were the mirror images of each other. In each the side who won the toss, decided to bat first and were out for scores under 200. Then the oppositions first innings (both times!) was 363. Before, in the second innings, either the side batting first made just enough of a target (66) or were bowled out quickly. Mad. Crazy too if you can understand anything of what I just wrote. I can’t.
Anyway for all you statisticians out there I thought I’d present a few facts from the two match series which you can jot down in your maths book, or just ignore. Your choice.
- Most runs scored by Jos Buttler with 161, averaging 80.5
- Most wickets taken by Mohammad Abbas with 10, at 14.20
- Top score of the series was 80, which is the first series in England since 1925 where nobody has reached a century.
- Sam Curran scored 20 runs on his 20th birthday; only once has a player been dismissed for their age on their birthday.
- ‘Howzat For A Laugh?!’ attracted ten thousand twitter followers and is the most listened to podcast on iTunes.
- One of these stats is false.
5) Circus Skills
The final lesson of the week comes via our friendly neighbours down under, Australia. It is with a huge amount of sympathy and love that we say goodbye to their chief executive James Sutherland. Standing down after 17 years in charge, Sutherland has said the ‘time is right’ for him to vacate. NO SHIT SHERLOCK! This is the guy who’s held the helm during one of the most disgraceful stories in the history of cricket. If ‘sandpaper gate’ was the pinnacle of the iceberg, then this is a ship which has been on a crash course to a sinking the Titanic would be proud of.
The actions of Warner, Smith and Bancroft were partly down to an arrogance which exited in Australian cricket. Winning was everything; who cared if you had to cheat to achieve it? Forget bending the rules, the Aussie team of the past ten years have sledged disgracefully, bullied opponents and fought tooth and nail to gain any advantage. Who can forget the shameless tirades of abuse Broad received in 2013/14? Australian cricket has been rotten for many years. Sutherland is the ringmaster of the whole circus.
As chief clown he has to accept part of the blame for this atrocious team culture. He won’t. Instead, he’ll walk away head held high; convinced Aussie cricket is far improved under his jurisdiction. Sorry to disappoint James, it is not. I know another Sutherland who could have done a better job. And that one thought having an STD was exciting! Oh how we miss you Neil.
Here ends this week’s lessons learned. As I’m in such a good mood I won’t set any homework. Instead run, laugh and play in the sun. Enjoy the good times. They won’t last. Mines a sex on the beach cocktail. Class dismissed!