Posted by: tootingtrumpet | December 21, 2018

Three memories of cricket in 2018

A personal reflection on three moments that illuminated cricket in 2018.

Virat Kohli and Sam Curran

“KohliCam” is almost a thing these days – the camera zooming in on that most expressive of faces, channeling that firecracker of energy, that bountiful source of clicks. He knows it, we know it, his sponsors know it. But, sometimes, true authenticity peeks out from beneath the glamorous veneer.

India’s captain had spent the second day of the first Test at Edgbaston compiling a brilliant 149, an innings full of skill and heart, leavened by luck – but the great players always seem to get plenty of that. He was the only reason India were in the match at all (the next best score was Shikhar Dhawan’s 26) and didn’t we all know it. Sam Curran, in his second Test, had had a good day too, with four wickets to his name – but his third day would be better.

England were 87-7, the lead a precarious 100, when Curran took charge, riding his luck, but playing sumptuous strokes between the plays and misses, as the initiative was wrested away from the visitors, Kohli’s hitherto irresistible bowlers seen off on a wave of youthful exuberance.

The innings closed with Curran’s dismissal for 63, the lead an ultimately winning one of 193 runs. The boy led the men from the field, but, from the vantage point of Edgbaston’s beautifully appointed media centre high above the players, I was watching Kohli. He paused in front of his men to let Curran have his moment, but there was a shout, brief eye contact and the most perfunctory of nods for the Englishman – both had much work still to be done after all.

Blink and you would have missed it, but it wasn’t meant for us. It was a connection between the leading player in the world and a tyro who had proved himself a worthy opponent. Both men – and the game – were the better for it.


Will Jacks breaks Lancashire’s hearts

I should have been there really. My “real” team, in the middle of a disastrous season, up against my adopted team in the middle of their best for a generation, The Oval but half an hour away. But I had things to do, Lanky needed 94 but had only five wickets in hand, and these day-nighters feel a bit strange anyway.

25 years ago, I might have had a little music in the background while Ceefax p345 clicked over as the runs were accumulated. In 2018, I had the commentary – over the wireless (how that word has changed its meaning) – with the indefatigable Mark Church and friends describing every ball for what was a growing audience. Twitter too, sparked into life, as Lanky’s two wonderful bowlers, Graham Onions and Tom Bailey, turned batsmen to get the Red Rose past 250 and in with a shout. Every ball was tense, every ball an event, every ball greeted by the crowd which had plenty of Northern voices to offset the Londoners’ shouts of “C’mon the ‘Rey”.

Matt Parkinson, no mug, but in at 11, was facing Surrey’s champion South African, Morne Morkel, with just six to get. By this time I had the live feed from Surrey’s website open, the work long forgotten, the tension unbearable. Young Parky gets one on his pads, it’s an unlikely gimee from the experienced quick, and then… this

Just about all of it was impossible 25 years ago, maybe even 10 years ago. The internet commentary, the live pictures, the real-time connection to a community of like-minded fans, and the athleticism and anticipation of Will Jacks’ catch. The ECB seem hellbent on changing our game (not theirs) via revolution not evolution, but it’s probably changing quickly enough – for those with eyes to see.


Alastair Cook bids farewell

A fortnight or so later, I’m actually at The Oval, sitting with friends in the pavilion, a gin and tonic in hand, England’s lead on the way from handy to safe, en route to commanding.

But nobody’s really looking at that line on the scoreboard. It’s the one below – “Cook 96” – that’s drawing all the attention. Ravi Jadeja bowls and Alastair Cook squirts it backward of point, where Jasprit Bumrah fields – three more to get. But I see it early (maybe provoked by guilt at having written Cook off long ago, my assertion that his eyes had gone being thrust back down my throat) and I’m on my feet first as the ball flies over the bowler’s head and towards the boundary to my left.

Everyone in the ground is applauding, the Indian players joining in, perhaps the umpires too – who knows? Our hero had acknowledged the praise, the respect, even, let’s face it, the love of the public in that understated way of his and was now trying to shush us, as he would soon do for his third baby – with about as much success.

I wasn’t looking there though. I was surveying the grand old ground, tarted up in recent years, but still South London urban, without an egg and tomato tie and blazer combo nor a pair of raspberry slacks in sight. The country, divided so horribly for over a year, were as one in admiration for a man whom few of us knew in even the sense that one “knows” celebrities these days (“Where’s your Instagram feed Chef? Get with the programme!”) Some of us might not agree with aspects of his rural lifestyle, nor hold his captaincy in the very highest regard, but that was forgotten. This was his moment and we were blessed to share it.

The man had earned that respect bleeding into love for his decency, his achievements and, most of all, for his dignity in an age in which the word has become almost obsolete, every gesture, every muttering, every thought even, tried in the court of a febrile media feeding on and fed by the shrill tweets of those who would never say such things to people’s faces.

Of course, there was poignancy as well as celebration in that applause, perhaps its elegiac undertone not just present for its subject but also for the calmer, more considered world of cricket – hell, of the world full stop – that Alastair Cook had joined a generation earlier and to which he had cleaved through it all.

Vale Sir Alastair.





  1. Ceefax page 345!

  2. Have a good one, Gary.

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