Thursday 11 July 2013

After going to Old Trafford on my birthday (last occasion this happened July 1985 with my dad) I relived some more of my youth today when I sat inside with the curtains drawn watching cricket all day.

I don’t want to make out that I never went out when I was little. Because I did go out when I was little. But I did stay in a lot and watch cricket in the summer. Strangely it was never a case of people knocking down my front door when I didn’t come out. And it’s fine with everyone when I stay in on my own as an adult. It’s almost like everyone realises how much I enjoy my own company and doesn’t want to ruin my enjoyment – what a fucking good bunch of eggs my friends are.

Things are rather different as an adult:

1. I can have the television on at whatever volume I want. As a child I had to have it on at practically zero so I didn’t get shouted at by my dad, the miserable night-shift bastard.

2. If I want a wee, I just go and have a wee. I don’t hold it in for about three hours until I think my dad is asleep deeply enough for a child on some creaking stairs not to awaken him.

3. England are actually good at cricket now. When I was young watching cricket just involved Graham Gooch and Robin Smith being good surrounded by a lot of dross. There were minor distractions: would Both get back to his best (no) and would Graeme Hick prove that he was one of the greatest batsmen ever by succeeding at test cricket (no).

4. The theme music for TV coverage was definitely A MILLION times better on the BBC*.

Not everything has changed, though. I should still probably be doing something more with my existence (but I like watching cricket) and half of the England team is still South African.

*The coverage of cricket by BBC was very good but they weren’t very progressive like they aren’t about a lot of things. People are still bemoaning test cricket now being on Sky’s paid-for-TV. Well when I used to watch cricket on the BBC – see above – I had to put up with periods of the game not being covered while the BBC cut to some horse racing (I hated that at the time but would probably be OK with that now, the irony). The thing with BBC’s sport coverage is that they want to be twee and appeal to everyone (ie using Sue Barker) when they’re really only appealing to people who don’t think Sue Barker is shit at presenting sport.

The most important thing about sports coverage is ensuring you appeal to the hardcore while being good enough not to eliminate the casual fairweather sports fan (everyone who was into the Olympics but hasn’t watched sport since, people saying cricket is brilliant once every five years). That’s not be being snobbish – it’s common sense, because people who do like sport as a momentary thing wont sustain TV audiences/gate receipts at the events. I accept the whole appealing to a wider audience – even for a small amount of time – can grow the core, but that still doesn’t mean it has to be presented by Sue fucking Barker trying to make jokes when she is about as funny as a shoe box.

Mike Gatting, batting for England in 1987 – against West Indies

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