diamond geezer

 Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Sticky wicket

Glamorgan Dragons. Since when have county cricket clubs had stupid names? Yorkshire Phoenix. I suspect I'm extremely late (like years late) in noticing this, but who on earth had the ridiculous idea of giving cricket clubs daft nicknames. Lancashire Lightning. Makes them sound like third rate American football teams. Northamptonshire Steelbacks. The extended names don't seem to be particularly well promoted either, which suggests the county sides are rightly embarrassed by them. Gloucestershire Gladiators. There must be some overpaid PR company out there laughing their socks off. Somerset Sabres. Whatever happened to the demure, upright, traditional, very British game of cricket? Essex Eagles. Shot down in flames. Kent Spitfires.

I have to confess that I consider cricket to be the most useless, pointless sport in the entire world. Two teams go and stand in a field for up to five days. Three people position themselves right in the middle of the field and run around occasionally. One team stands and watches, just in case a small ball is ever hit in their direction. If it is, they throw it back. Every five minutes or so they walk to the opposite side of the field, merely to walk back again five minutes later. The second team just sits at the edge of the field and watches everyone else until it's their turn to go into the middle and be watched themselves. When one of the people in the middle makes a mistake they have to walk to the edge of the field and start watching again. When enough people on both sides have made enough mistakes the game is over, except that this is England so it's probably started raining by then and the game is therefore a draw.

I don't care that cricket may be a magnificent game of skill and tactics. I don't care that cricket is a traditional part of the English summer, except perhaps in the same way that wasps, hayfever and hosepipe bans are a traditional part of the English summer. I don't care that a cricketer won I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here and may have made the sport popular again. I'm not impressed by any game that takes days to play but whose 'highlights' can be edited to just 30 seconds for the evening news. I was delighted when the BBC lost the rights to show cricket recently, because it meant there's now a fair chance of switching on BBC2 in the summer and there being a programme on that's actually worth watching, not just a lot of interminable standing around, soporific commentary and polite applause.

You're right, I was rubbish at the game when I was at school. However, cricket was a game I was never ashamed to be rubbish at. Oh look, I've dropped the ball again. Ah well, who cares? I'll just stand here in the outfield getting a suntan until it's my turn to sit on the boundary and get a suntan over there instead. I don't dislike cricket because I was rubbish at it. I dislike cricket because it's boring.

These 'new' county cricket team names, they've got it all wrong. Names like Hawks, Sharks and Lightning suggest a fast-moving exciting game of cut-throat danger. Nothing could be further from the truth. What the counties really need are new, more appropriate names. Middlesex Tortoises. Sussex Sloths. Lancashire Lethargy. Middlesex Monotony. Glamorgan Drag-Ons. Actually, looks like they've got the last one right already...

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