Boy has my head been spinning for the last week or so. As always with ideas, just like Flick in Bug’s Life, my head is always full of them, but my moral compass has been under attack from polar energy.
I flew back from Edinburgh two Fridays ago in order to go to Lords for the England vs Pakistan Test Match. My life is just not right if I don’t get at least one visit to HQ in each and every season. I have not missed the Lords Test since I first started attending in 1975 and it was with some excitement that I went along to St John’s Wood. My very good friend, Rob, was taking his oldest son, Robson, for his very first Test. What a lucky boy, at 9 years old being taken to Lords by your dad. Apparently he had been so excited about this trip for weeks, that he had had trouble sleeping! I think Rob was pretty excited too.
Kirsty and I were late as my flight was delayed, and by the time we got in, England had lost 4 quick wickets and were on 54-5. Poor old Robson, his first morning at Lords and England had not done themselves proud. Mind you, down the years I have seen plenty of batting collapses, given the dominance of the West Indies in the late seventies and all the way through the eighties, and then the re-emergence of Australia from’89 onwards. Much like following our national football team, you have to have lows, plenty of them, to enjoy the highs. It’s a life sentence!
The second hour of the morning went off without issue with Prior and Trott bringing up the hundred before lunch. Other good friends were also in the ground, Simon, Olly, Jason, Keith, Gus, Tom and Doron so lunch was always going to be fluid. Robson was desperate to either get to the Lord’s Shop or get back to the game, but handled himself well and his patience was rewarded. But we missed 2 English wickets after lunch, and now with Broad and Trott at the wicket we were hoping for 150. The rest, as they say is history as a series of records were broken and the two batsmen amassed a 300 partnership. Quite simply amazing, emotional and uplifting. Besides it took out attention away from the merciless pigeon bombing that was going on in the skies above us.
Those pigeons soon cleared the seats around us, with the poor chap sat in front bombed three times before he called it a day. The upshot of all this was as we left, one of the gentlemen who had stayed his ground thanked Kirsty for talking to his 16 year old son and making him feel welcome. What a magnificent game cricket is and all those who support it. Or so I thought.
The rest for the moment is history. A News of the World ‘sting’ exposed possible spot betting fraud from 4 Pakistani players. England’s magnificent win and particularly Broad and Trott’s incredible stand had the gloss somewhat sanded off by this smear. The mood at Lord’s on Sunday morning seemed very black and all commentators felt a sense of sadness and anger.
A few days later the Red Tops did it again and ‘exposed’ Wayne Rooney’s extra marital daliances. All in the public interest you understand. All professional sport seems to have been spoilt by money. And the jealousy rife amongst the press merely exacerbates the situation. Dear old Mr Capello’s £6m per year wages seem to be the key to most of the ire from the media, I say that only because it is mentioned everytime he is mentioned. The members of the media have always seen themselves as kingmakers, guardians of the little secrets and lies that make their publications so irresistable. Witness this last week. The England football team had two convincing performances admittedly against weaker opposition this week, but nevertheless scored 7 and conceded 1. The media were not that noisy about the victories, and nor should they be, but imagine the deluge of abuse that would have come Fabio’s way if we had drawn both games? Indeed you don’t have to imagine too hard, just look at the abuse he got in the run up to the games. Out of order. The exposure of the potential Pakistani cheating will be a good thing for cricket, if it turns out to be based on fact and truth and the early signs are that it is, but if it is actually poppycock, well that will not be such a good thing.
If we could clear our national DNA of one thing, it wouldn’t be the cult of celebrity it would be the fascination with idle gossip fuelled by an underlying, dark, deep rooted envy. If those elements of the media were to concentrate on the facts, then our sporting world would be a little more, well, sporting. The days whereby the media were privileged to the inner sanctum of the sporting world are coming to an end. Information is free and secrets can no longer be secrets. Lies are always lies, but the age of truth is upon us. Let’s hope that leads to more honesty and better sport.
Meanwhile, I am off to see my beloved Hammers (Avram Grant or otherwise) take on the mighty Chelsea. Let’s just hope we get a break and can surprise a few people.