England May 13, 2010

A bit of spiritual fumigation

After a month of politics, only cricket can restore the soul
27


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

  • Khurram on May 20, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    Man! I have been really missing your blog :(

  • 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"?

  • 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...

  • 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?

  • 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)

  • 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 :-)

  • Dave on May 15, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    Andy, Do you ski?

  • simon on May 14, 2010, 3:57 GMT

    we've missed you Andy!

  • 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.....

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

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

  • Khurram on May 20, 2010, 6:08 GMT

    Man! I have been really missing your blog :(

  • 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"?

  • 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...

  • 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?

  • 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)

  • 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 :-)

  • Dave on May 15, 2010, 7:31 GMT

    Andy, Do you ski?

  • simon on May 14, 2010, 3:57 GMT

    we've missed you Andy!

  • 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.....

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

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

  • Dave on May 13, 2010, 17:13 GMT

    Yay... Andy's back... Did enjoy you on the Vote Now Show but glad to see you back on home turf. Political comedian? Aren't you a cricket comedian who does a bit of politics on the side?

  • Vineet on May 13, 2010, 15:00 GMT

    well I guess England's fairytale time is over as Andy is back.. God save the Queen :)

  • KRU on May 13, 2010, 14:21 GMT

    Sanath recently became mp ..... Assuming english cricketers came to politics to sort the mess out ............... what would their political agendas be >? sure you can come up with something funny ......

  • Hemant Brar on May 13, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    Nice to see, i mean read you again...Hoping you post here with the same consistency with which Shane Bond got injured or Chris Martin got ducks or Shane Warne got girls...

  • Sagar on May 13, 2010, 13:58 GMT

    Why can't we use some equation from Einstein for determining the winner of rain-effected matches? One, he is highly respected and two, he wouldn't get pissed if a captain thinks his equations are full of ....

    I propose using E=mc2 for determining revised targets. Of course, as a non-physicist, I need some expert help in formulating this in detail.

    Andy, Can you please complete this equation?

  • Colin West on May 13, 2010, 13:35 GMT

    If you had to go out to bat using as your blade the freshly severed limb of a leading British politician, which politician and which limb?

  • Critek on May 13, 2010, 13:05 GMT

    @crice. Can Tendulkar can beat Vishy at chess ? Obviously! Tendulkar is a certified genius, while Vishy can barely do 2303463848331 forward moves in his head. This kind of irresponsible questioning of an acclaimed genius should be severely dealt with.

  • Son_Of on May 13, 2010, 10:40 GMT

    @ss I think any british MP could at least equal Sanath's record in this tournament with the bat. He needs to be dropped for today's game.

    My local LibDem candidate had a picture of him with Imran Khan in his campaign leaflets, and he *still* didn't win!

  • Gopi Lal Singh Yadav on May 13, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Has IPL and India switched their places? Indian players seemed more intense playing for IPL than playing for India.

    Thank Shiva! ICC World Cup is the much needed break Indian players deserve- after hard fought, intensive 6 weeks of playing and partying. During the IPL season, Milan & Paris were having hard time finding suitable models as they were all on assignment in India!!

    Bless the players now- soak them in salty ocean water; make them run naked on beautiful West Indian beaches; take them for shopping in New York & London on their return home. Of course, empty handed.

    Dhoni, is Chennai your new India? Jadeja, issue restraining order for him to stay away from cricket ball at least 20 yards. Yusuf; save your sixes for next IPL season. I am glad you did not waste them during this world cup. Afterall, what is world cup? Who cares? - neither BCCI nor India players.

  • Tushar on May 13, 2010, 9:41 GMT

    Welcome back Andy. You have been missed badly for last few weeks. Hope to see you write more frequently here.

  • Fulty Clarke on May 13, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    3 south africans, an englishman and an irshman.. english batting line up is a bit of a joke :)

  • ss on May 13, 2010, 8:32 GMT

    how pathetic has sanath jayasuriya been as an MP playing cricket......are there any current british MPs who could do a better job?

  • Christy on May 13, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Do you think that the English cricketers neglected their duty by not being present in the UK during the National elections ? Maybe, we can disqualify them from the T20 semis on this pretext and ensure that they dont have a realistic chance of taking a shot at the Cup and keep up England's "clean" record !

  • Andrew Morrel on May 13, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    Great article as always

    David Cameron would never make it as a consistent line and length bowler

    21/4/10

    The Tory leader tells The Times that an indecisive result would put Britain’s credit rating at risk, put pressure on the currency and leave home owners and business facing bigger bills. “It raises those risks. It’s miserable for people because you could see mortgage rates go up and business rates go up.” A minority government would play to the worst instincts of MPs.. “It’s great for politicians. They can endlessly haggle and bicker and scheme and swap jobs and win pet projects and get funding for this thing or that thing and have a wonderful time.....”

    13/5/10

    David Cameron today hailed the creation of the .. coalition ..as a "historic and seismic shift" ... "Today we are not just announcing a new government... We are announcing a new politics. A new politics where the national interest is more important than party interest, where co-operation wins out over confrontation...

  • Mick on May 13, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    Here's a question for you: are you ever going to finish that "greatest moments of the decade" thing you started but only got up to 2003!

    Also, what do you find more enjoyable, a Gary Kirsten innings or a root canal?

    Is Duckworth & Lewis your favourite mathematical equation?

    If they manage to succeed in human cloning, which former English cricketer would you like to see brought back from DNA? W.G. Grace or Douglas Jardine perhaps?

    Which cricketer would make a good stand in PM for England given your current political madness?

  • Asiba-The Buffalo Soldier-'why should I wear a jacket and tie' on May 13, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    I am a West Indian . I am backing England .

  • Circe on May 13, 2010, 6:37 GMT

    Question for the question answer blog:

    Do you think Sachin Tendulkar can beat Vishy Anand(or maybe Veselin Topalov) at chess? What do you think his fans think? What do they *really* think? What does David Cameron think?

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Circe on May 13, 2010, 6:37 GMT

    Question for the question answer blog:

    Do you think Sachin Tendulkar can beat Vishy Anand(or maybe Veselin Topalov) at chess? What do you think his fans think? What do they *really* think? What does David Cameron think?

  • Asiba-The Buffalo Soldier-'why should I wear a jacket and tie' on May 13, 2010, 6:50 GMT

    I am a West Indian . I am backing England .

  • Mick on May 13, 2010, 6:57 GMT

    Here's a question for you: are you ever going to finish that "greatest moments of the decade" thing you started but only got up to 2003!

    Also, what do you find more enjoyable, a Gary Kirsten innings or a root canal?

    Is Duckworth & Lewis your favourite mathematical equation?

    If they manage to succeed in human cloning, which former English cricketer would you like to see brought back from DNA? W.G. Grace or Douglas Jardine perhaps?

    Which cricketer would make a good stand in PM for England given your current political madness?

  • Andrew Morrel on May 13, 2010, 7:04 GMT

    Great article as always

    David Cameron would never make it as a consistent line and length bowler

    21/4/10

    The Tory leader tells The Times that an indecisive result would put Britain’s credit rating at risk, put pressure on the currency and leave home owners and business facing bigger bills. “It raises those risks. It’s miserable for people because you could see mortgage rates go up and business rates go up.” A minority government would play to the worst instincts of MPs.. “It’s great for politicians. They can endlessly haggle and bicker and scheme and swap jobs and win pet projects and get funding for this thing or that thing and have a wonderful time.....”

    13/5/10

    David Cameron today hailed the creation of the .. coalition ..as a "historic and seismic shift" ... "Today we are not just announcing a new government... We are announcing a new politics. A new politics where the national interest is more important than party interest, where co-operation wins out over confrontation...

  • Christy on May 13, 2010, 7:27 GMT

    Do you think that the English cricketers neglected their duty by not being present in the UK during the National elections ? Maybe, we can disqualify them from the T20 semis on this pretext and ensure that they dont have a realistic chance of taking a shot at the Cup and keep up England's "clean" record !

  • ss on May 13, 2010, 8:32 GMT

    how pathetic has sanath jayasuriya been as an MP playing cricket......are there any current british MPs who could do a better job?

  • Fulty Clarke on May 13, 2010, 8:55 GMT

    3 south africans, an englishman and an irshman.. english batting line up is a bit of a joke :)

  • Tushar on May 13, 2010, 9:41 GMT

    Welcome back Andy. You have been missed badly for last few weeks. Hope to see you write more frequently here.

  • Gopi Lal Singh Yadav on May 13, 2010, 10:20 GMT

    Has IPL and India switched their places? Indian players seemed more intense playing for IPL than playing for India.

    Thank Shiva! ICC World Cup is the much needed break Indian players deserve- after hard fought, intensive 6 weeks of playing and partying. During the IPL season, Milan & Paris were having hard time finding suitable models as they were all on assignment in India!!

    Bless the players now- soak them in salty ocean water; make them run naked on beautiful West Indian beaches; take them for shopping in New York & London on their return home. Of course, empty handed.

    Dhoni, is Chennai your new India? Jadeja, issue restraining order for him to stay away from cricket ball at least 20 yards. Yusuf; save your sixes for next IPL season. I am glad you did not waste them during this world cup. Afterall, what is world cup? Who cares? - neither BCCI nor India players.

  • Son_Of on May 13, 2010, 10:40 GMT

    @ss I think any british MP could at least equal Sanath's record in this tournament with the bat. He needs to be dropped for today's game.

    My local LibDem candidate had a picture of him with Imran Khan in his campaign leaflets, and he *still* didn't win!