June 16, 2010

County cricket

The Durham Wotsits

Andrew Hughes


A Durham Demon determinedly drives in to bowl © PA Photos
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My dictionary defines a dynamo as “a machine for generating electric currents by means of the relative movement of conductors and magnets”. Extremely useful, I’m sure, but at first glance, such a device would appear to have little to do with the game of cricket. Nevertheless, I have no truck with those who suggest that the cricketers of Durham are saddled with this moniker as the consequence of a random alliterative brainstorming session in a conference room somewhere in Chester-le-Street.

Anyway, on Monday the Dingos were up against the Leicestershire Foxes, so named not because they employ only the most attractive cricketers (consider if you will, Mr Hoggard, Mr Nixon and Mr Henderson) nor because they display a particularly vulpine craftiness (they don’t) but because that particular mammal was at one time more persecuted by men on horses in the fair county of Leicestershire than in any other part of this green and pleasant land. Probably.

For this game the Dodgems were able to call upon one Paul Collingwood, back from his burnout sabbatical, having given his mind the month off. Another ideal location for mental rehabilitation is of course the Sky commentary box, and there another of the Dodos, Graham Onions, was also giving his cranial machine a well-earned break.

At one point the vagaries of battle had brought Claude Henderson and Dale Benkenstein face to face across twenty-two yards of turf. “Claude’s South African,” began Graham, taking seriously the commentator’s duty to inform, “and so’s Dale, so obviously they’ll know each other well.”

Obviously. Still, I’m not entirely sure whether we can assume that those who share similarly designed passports will inevitably be buddies, as though the Republic of South Africa were a small mining village in Northumbria, where everybody knows your name, or indeed, a fictional Boston bar in the mid-to-late 1980s. On the other hand, if all South Africans do have a symbiotic relationship with one another, it could explain why the England dressing room is a more contented place these days.*

Immigrants from the Cape, be they Kolpak or just visiting for the summer, must of course adjust to the meteorological realities. No doubt when Albie Morkel signed up for the Didgeridoos he took a quick look at the calendar, thought June and July would surely be okay temperature-wise and only packed the one sweater. How wrong can you be? At the Emirates International Cricket Ground there are only two weather options: cold and colder. Poor Albie spent half the game shivering in the dugout under an emergency hoodie with not even a strip of biltong to warm his palate.

But in the end the Dentists won the game and this was largely due to Ross Taylor, who brought his enormous willow to bear heavily on the assorted fast-medium and medium-fast Foxes. David Lloyd et al were in raptures at his timing, the strength of his wrists, and above all, the proportions of his bat. The size of a chap’s blade is, it seems, a continual source of fascination to the microphone botherers and I’m starting to become concerned about the enthusiasm with which cricketers of a certain vintage bang on in such excited tones about poundage and girth and heft. Sigmund Freud might have called it bat envy.

* For those who like to keep a note of these things, this is Joke 1678 (b) from Cricket Immigrants Satirical Remarks Volume Two (also available in Afrikaans)

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Posted by pharmacy tech on (June 20, 2010, 13:30 GMT)

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

Posted by Graeme on (June 17, 2010, 9:10 GMT)

Sekhar, I'll play the spoilsport for some nicknames. I'll presume Notts are the Outlaws in reference to Robin Hood.

Bushrangers are called so because the most famous Bushrangers (Highwaymen in certain parts of the world) were from Victoria such as Ned Kelly. Redbacks because they play in red and Redbacks are a venomous spider and obviously didn't think they could market the term Croweaters.

Posted by Matt on (June 16, 2010, 21:56 GMT)

@Sekhar: Notts Outlaws because of the English folk hero Robin Hood, who according to legend spent most of his time while not robbing from the rich to give to the poor in Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire and dodging the Sheriff of Nottingham (aka Alan Rickman). @PaulClarke: 'Royal' is a variety of pear iirc, as Worcs have three of them on their crest. While many of the Americanised team names are fairly obvious and derive from the team crest/county coat of arms (Bears, Foxes etc) some are just alliterative, as Mr. Hughes says, or faintly embarrassing or contrived.

Posted by Kunal on (June 16, 2010, 18:53 GMT)

you really gave a bright, albeit funny set up of a county game. if all games have so much going at the county circuit, people should line for season tickets! ;)

Posted by Jim Bob on (June 16, 2010, 18:21 GMT)

A Durham Demon determinedly drives in to...

deliver...

Posted by Anonymous on (June 16, 2010, 13:15 GMT)

Very very funny. I like bat envy. Mining villages in Northumberland, as elsewhere in the North East are ex- by the way.

Cold? You Southern softie. I was there with only one blanket. But the evening was fine and sunny. I thought the sixes were a tad clinical mind.

Posted by Damien on (June 16, 2010, 13:05 GMT)

HAHA. Bat envy. Very well said Mr Hughes. Hilarious article. Well done!

Posted by Paul Clarke on (June 16, 2010, 10:58 GMT)

It must irk the "Royal's" franchise (teams from UK, Aus and SA linked to the IPL team "Royal Challengers" that Worcester Royals already have that suffix in the English league, and are about the least likely standard bearers for excellence you could possibly find - being a wholly awful team with no fast bowlers and no spinners.

Posted by Sekhar on (June 16, 2010, 10:18 GMT)

So there are two Dales from South Africa and both happen to be Steins.Dale Steyn and Dale Benken-stein!

Why are the Notts called Outlaws?

Good article,Andrew.When the T20 Champions League gets underway,give us your take on the team names there--Bushrangers,Redbacks,Warriors,etc.

Posted by rob heinen on (June 16, 2010, 8:21 GMT)

I'm also not too fond of the Durham team. And in no way am I a fan of Paul Collingwood, who will turn out to be an even bigger pain in the bum now that he's Englands first captain to win an ICC trophy. Spare us please, we already have Nasser Hussain in the commentary box.

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Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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