August 1, 2012

Morne's Chihuahua

A boy and his dog are reunited; and five-ring frenzy takes over the UK

Saturday, 28th July I have a confession. Keep it under your hat, but I didn't watch the Olympic opening ceremony.

I know. As the nation enjoys one of its periodic bouts of hysteria, on account of a £9 billion extended sports day, admitting to an absence of enthusiasm for the whole business is a major faux pas; like announcing that you've just sold your children into slavery and are on your way to burn down Buckingham Palace (with all the corgis still inside).

But nothing can escape the grip of the all-consuming Olympiad and, as expected, the five-ring fanciers couldn't leave cricket alone. They don't want it in the Olympics itself, heavens no, but as they attempted to condense a nation's history into three hours, cricket was bound to be dragged into proceedings. Lo and behold, today I saw pictures that appeared to show 18th century country folk in silly hats lounging about in a mock field. Isn't this what cricket represents: the shire, the village green, the gentility of old England?

Well no, it isn't. Cricket took root in the cities, not the countryside. It was a bawdy, riotous pastime, regularly censured by puritans as a threat to public morals. One-day matches, raucous crowds, widespread cheating, illegal betting and unrestrained drinking are not modern abominations. They are part of cricket's DNA. So please can we ditch the village green, the parson and the blacksmith? We don't need these fairy stories anymore.

Monday, 30th July According to Allan Donald, Morne has his mongrel back. I don't know if he put an advert in the Yorkshire Evening Post or if Gary Kirsten has been roaming the streets of Leeds with doggy treats, but Morne and Fifi are reunited (for those interested in matters canine, Morne's mongrel is a quarter Chihuahua and wears a fetching diamante collar).

Anyway, apart from the shaggy dog story, Allan has also been telling us how much Morne has improved as a bowler. Or something like that:

"I think he has overstepped the line in terms of finding someone who wants to engage in a battle a little bit more."

I'm not completely sure, but I'm hoping this means that Morne has challenged Jesse to 12 rounds in the boxing ring, which, let's be honest, is a contest we'd all pay to see. I reckon Morne's extra reach gives him the edge, but one blow from the Ryder uppercut and the big fella would hit the canvas pretty quickly. Stopped in the fifth, I'd wager.

"He's learning all the time and he is starting to show us what lies on the other side of Morne Morkel."

An enormous Morne Morkel-shaped shadow, presumably. But whilst I've no idea what Allan is banging on about, whatever he's doing in the privacy of the South African dressing room is obviously working because Morne looks more like Joel Garner by the day. Perhaps if they are to counter the Morkel threat, Andrew Strauss needs to ditch the pedigree Labrador and get a mongrel of his own. A Yorkshire Terrier-pit bull cross, maybe. They could call it Geoffrey.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England