May 13, 2010

England

A bit of spiritual fumigation

Andy Zaltzman


England: unconscionably heroic at the World Twenty20 © Getty Images
Enlarge
 

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.

RELATED LINKS

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

RSS Feeds: Andy Zaltzman

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Khurram on (May 20, 2010, 6:08 GMT)

Man! I have been really missing your blog :(

Posted by Aidan 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"?

Posted by CM Karthik 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...

Posted by Anonymous 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?

Posted by Graham Bingham 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)

Posted by Anonymous 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 :-)

Posted by Dave on (May 15, 2010, 7:31 GMT)

Andy, Do you ski?

Posted by simon on (May 14, 2010, 3:57 GMT)

we've missed you Andy!

Posted by Garry 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.....

Posted by Henwelder on (May 13, 2010, 18:00 GMT)

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. 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 Cricinfo.

All articles by this writer