© David John - Flickr: DavenJohn

 
 
 
 

Giles Coren: ‘Run hard, chuck the fucking ball, whack the shit out of it and shout a lot!’

Posted at 8:00 am, May 19, 2015 in Fun London
cricket

 [Flickr: Will]

Giles Coren is all out of sympathy for England’s cricketing crybabies.

The first Test match of the summer starts at Lord’s on Thursday and I ought to be very excited. I love cricket, I love London and I love most of all the irresistible poetry created when the two come together. The glistening lawn bordered by graceful buildings full of smartly dressed men and women quietly reading the papers and looking forward to the start of play offers a rare Arcadian idyll within the dusty hum of a vast modern city. An Edwardian picnic in ‘Blade Runner’ land. As an associate member of the MCC, I am even allowed in for three of the days, and will soon be eligible for all five: my membership becomes ‘full’ in 2031, barely an eye blink in cricket.

Except this year I don’t think I am going to bother. I am simply not feeling it.

It doesn’t help that we just got thrashed by the West Indies, a bunch of sulky, half-coached kids who would rather be playing basketball. And it was the way we lost. The cowardly, round-shouldered, apathetic middle-class manner in which we threw away a series that a team with any guts would have won at a trot.

For all the apparent snootiness of the game’s public image, English cricket has always represented a fusion of our country’s best at every social level: cold-hearted, calculating toffs; big-hearted rural seam bowlers; fiery Northern (or Caribbean immigrant) fast bowlers; devious little spinners like I was in my prime (latterly often of South Asian extraction); ruddy-cheeked, beery all-rounders… all playing the game with gusto, anger and love.

But not any more. Recent administrations have favoured a load of spoilt, pink-faced, privately educated losers, representative of nothing, crap at everything, without wit or flair, rejecting the most original batsman of modern times (the South African-born Kevin Pietersen) and the only spin bowler in the land with any hope of taking an Australian wicket (Bradford-born Adil Rashid) and thus given us successive teams of overgrown school prefects with big flat bourgeois arses but no balls at all, armoured to the eyeballs but timid as children, coached to the nines but without a breath of imagination. They’ve had another shake up in the last few days, but we’ve had plenty of those before.

To make English cricket sexy again, we need to get back some of the street-fighting spirit which won us the Ashes in 2005 and 1981, which the Windies showed in beating us last month and which is always the way of the magnificent Australians and South Africans.

To do this, we must get cricket back out on the streets of London. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t played in state schools any more or that equipment these days is so prohibitively expensive. It’s no good whingeing about investment and opportunity. Posh new bats and fancy helmets do not make cricket what it is. In fact, they have spoiled it. We just need kids to get out from behind their computer screens, grab a stick and a ball of any sort and get out in the street again, close the roads if necessary with bins and benches, and try to knock each other’s heads off like they used to. Before we all went soft.

And as for the rest of us: just run hard, chuck the fucking ball, whack the shit out of it and shout a lot, get a few bruises, don’t cry about it, get sunburned, then go for a drink together when it’s over. As the parks and squares and side streets fill with raw cricket in its basest state (it happens in India, why not here?) the crowds will come, followed by the street food stalls and craft beer peddlers. It’ll be a national institution again, but twenty-first-century style. Cricket will pump through our veins once more in the most visceral way, the national game regrowing from the ground up and giving us a chance to bring the Ashes back to London and the Home of Cricket.

If not this summer, then at least before I am 62.

Bowled over? Tweet him @gilescorenRead more of Giles Coren’s columns

Tags: , , ,

 

Advertisement