August 4, 2010

Offbeat

When a comedian became a cricket journalist

Andrew Miller

Sitting in the Oval crowd on the final day of the Ashes in 2005, the comedian Miles Jupp experienced a “Damascene moment”. Down on his luck in his chosen career, and jealously observing the lucky few who were being paid to watch the sport he loved, he decided he would chance his arm at something completely different – and resolved to become a cricket journalist.

“Joining the press corps seemed like the perfect job,” said Jupp. “The more I thought about it, the more romantic my vision of life inside that world became: a clubby and convivial group of cricket lovers travelling the world together, watching the game and sharing stories about it, working and hunting as a pack.”

And so, with that idyllic vision in mind, he set his sights on England’s tour of India in February and March 2006, and even managed to extract vague promises of work via his contacts at the BBC and The Western Mail. However, upon arrival, he found himself completely out on a limb.

“I was left in India for a month with no pass, no work and the monumental task of looking busy,” he said. “It is incredibly hard to look busy when you have absolutely nothing to do. It is frowned upon to make excited, girly noises when a famous player is standing near you. And it is difficult to be taken seriously as a cricket journalist when more and more of your colleagues in the press box start noticing that you look a lot like one of the actors in the children’s television series Balamory.”

The net result, however, was to furnish Jupp with a stock of raw material which he has now taken back to his original career as a stand-up comic. “It was a month in which I was sometimes embarrassed, humiliated, self-conscious, bored, lonely or horribly sick,” he added. “But also at other times I was excited, accepted, joyful, got to mix with my heroes and learned to understand my relationship with the game.”

Fibber in the Heat (A Cricket Tale) will be showing at the Gilded Balloon Teviot in Edinburgh from August 5-29, starting at 8pm. For more information, or to book tickets, go to www.gildedballoon.co.uk, or ring 0131 622 6552.

Andrew Miller is the former UK editor of ESPNcricinfo and now editor of The Cricketer magazine

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