County cricket June 16, 2010

The Durham Wotsits

Who names these Twenty20 teams anyway?

A Durham Demon determinedly drives in to bowl © PA Photos

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)

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England