January 14, 2009

Let me on the pitch, I can help the Middle East

Andy Zaltzman

I know that this might seem a relatively insignificant bout of nostalgic grumpery in an age when the whole of cricketing tradition is under threat, but cricket has lost something special with the outlawing of the end-of-match pitch invasion, as well as its more restful but nevertheless enjoyable counterpart: the end-of-match stroll across the outfield to stand in front of the pavilion whilst some commemorative medallions are handed out with all the glitz, glamour and razzmatazz of an egg sandwich in a disused quarry.

No doubt some these celebratory or commiseratory crowd incursions were putting players at increased risk of suffering a public handshake or mild back-patting incident. More importantly, it is unquestionably more difficult for the organisers to cram the requisite 150 sponsors’ logos onto a pavilion balcony than onto a temporary cardboard rostrum that looks like a struggling school pupil’s failed CDT project.

However, some of the most memorable moments in cricket history have been when players have had to sprint with their commemorative stump through a swarming mass of celebrating fans, sidestepping like particularly exuberant Fijian rugby players to avoid excessive hair-ruffling. And some of the most iconic images of the game feature victorious captains waving from a lofty pavilion perch to their adoring throng like a chuffed pope after a particularly good St Peter’s Square sermon (albeit that few popes have saluted their fans after being drenched in champagne and beer by jubilant cardinals) (only Pius IV).

I acknowledge unreservedly that the world has more important political and economic issues piling up in its in-tray at the moment, but if cricket’s authorities can demonstrate that they trust their spectators to pitch invade with due care and decorum, perhaps the Middle East will realise that any problem can be resolved if only those involved are prepared to try.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

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Posted by m h on (January 16, 2009, 16:57 GMT)

Suido, the test status of the 6 day Super Series is under threat of cancellation due to the one sided nature of the result. The new Ten10 though might be the start of an explosive series!

Posted by Suido on (January 16, 2009, 10:05 GMT)

Andy, you may be onto something, if I am correct in detecting a faint analogy in your blog. Where cricket once had twee, white picket fences, it now has big, bold billboards and fines for streakers; where the West Bank once had twee riverside paddocks, it now has a great, grey picket fence and serious consequences for trespassers.

Next thing you know, there’ll be no standing room in the Gaza strip, much more crowd control, and the 6 day Super Series between Isreal and Rest of the Middle East will be cut to a mere Ten10 hour slog-a-thon.

Sit back, relax, and watch the media mogul frenzy begin.

Posted by Ross on (January 16, 2009, 3:14 GMT)

Thats expected. The Israelis just can't accept they are not the only ones...

Posted by D.V.C. on (January 14, 2009, 17:49 GMT)

I thought the current problems in the Middle East were mostly caused by Israeli pitch invasions?

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Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on ESPNcricinfo.

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