England May 13, 2010

A bit of spiritual fumigation

After a month of politics, only cricket can restore the soul

England: unconscionably heroic at the World Twenty20 © Getty Images

Hello Confectionery Stallers, and apologies for my long break from the hallowed virtual turf of Cricinfo. I have been immersed in my other life as a political comedian, attempting to mine comedy and/or sense (preferably both, but often neither) from the chaos of the British general election. With this nation now retreating from the verge of civil war, and with the prospect of the Russians taking advantage of a few days’ political uncertainty to launch a blitzkreig occupation of these shores now mercifully receding, I can turn my attention back to where it belongs and naturally resides – cricket.

My various commitments over recent weeks (the only time in my career that being a political comedian has meant that I got more work, rather than less) meant that on Monday I watched my first cricket since March. What a pleasant surprise to discover that England are currently not rubbish at a form of limited-overs cricket. Not even close. A well-balanced team, well-selected, with potential boundary-smiters throughout the batting order – something must be about to go horribly wrong.

Miraculously, despite the news of a hung parliament emerging from last week’s election, England have played their best tournament cricket for years. They have been so focused and clinical that one can only conclude they had not seen the apocalyptic newspaper agitations or cold-sweat-mongering Conservative election advert warning that an indecisive election result would lead to unstoppable and absolute national meltdown, as sure as night follows day, as sure as controversy follows umpire Daryl Harper, as sure as the words “was out for nought” follow the name “Chris Martin” in a reports of a New Zealand innings.

For Collingwood and his troops to focus on cricket when the nation they represent was on the brink of literally splintering into tiny shards of island that would float aimlessly around the North Atlantic for the rest of time can only be considered truly heroic. Either that or they patriotically steeled themselves to provide Britain as a whole with a shimmering shaft of light in the unremitting gloom of Westminster uncertainty.

(There have been the usual intermittent grumblings that the England team is not as English as would be ideal, having harvested a number of their team from various other countries. Surely, however, a national sports team has a duty to reflect the country it represents. And Britain as a whole is now an importing nation, not a manufacturing one. If anything, the make-up of the England XI is a satirical comment on the country’s industrial decline, rather than a systemic failure to produce homegrown talent and an overenthusiastic use of current ICC qualification regulations.)

So, with the election and its aftermath finally over, I can mercifully resume my Confectionary Stall duties. I have not even looked anything up on Statsguru for about six weeks – my longest “dry” period since I discovered it. It may take me some time to readjust to normal life. A month of pure, concentrated, unadulterated democracy is enough to break almost any human being, and I am in need of some spiritual fumigation. I hope cricket can provide that.

I will try to post shorter, more regular blogs. And I will also do occasional question-and-answer blogs, so if you have a query about cricket to which you would like me to invent an answer, please post a message below this. It has been good to write at you again.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on May 20, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    Man! I have been really missing your blog :(

  • testli5504537 on May 17, 2010, 9:18 GMT

    Hi Andy, with the recent success of the South Africa A/England coalition in the ICC World 20/20 is this the birth of a "New Cricket"?

  • testli5504537 on May 17, 2010, 2:01 GMT

    Andyyyyyyyyyyy.. we missed you.... Welcome back... i would really love to see you do an article about IPL and the Great-Indian-T20-WorldCup fiasco...

  • testli5504537 on May 17, 2010, 1:30 GMT

    @ Andrew Morrell

    While I'm not the biggest fan of Cameron, the two remarks you've posted are actually quite consistent. The whole point of the coalition is because a minority government would pose all the problems you/Cameron listed - in essence the coalition is his solution to the problem he's previously outlined - like any good bowler he's adapted his strategy to fit the match situation. Which is exactly why Monty Panesar should never go into politics...

    Now what I'd like to know is if Cameron and Clegg open the batting and the 2 Millibands try to outdo each other in the bowling - who will win the Ashes in the Winter?

  • testli5504537 on May 16, 2010, 21:45 GMT

    Amusing Question: Which cricketer (past, current or future) do you think would have the best chance in a fight with a bear?

    Serious Question: What was Michael Clarke's original ODI shirt number? (Remembering he was given the 23 by Warne a few years after his debut)

  • testli5504537 on May 16, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    Welcome back Andy!

    The fantastic fixers: a world 11 made up entirely of those who have been involved in match fixing :-)

  • testli5504537 on May 15, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    Andy, Do you ski?

  • testli5504537 on May 14, 2010, 3:57 GMT

    we've missed you Andy!

  • testli5504537 on May 14, 2010, 3:19 GMT

    Well done to the South African/Irish/English All-Stars for making the Twenty20 World Cup final.... haha, seriously I’d be embarrassed following that rabble.....

  • testli5504537 on May 13, 2010, 18:00 GMT

    Great to have you back Andy, you've been away far too long!

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