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What do you do if a beach ball flops onto the field next to you at an international cricket match? Nothing. Photographer Patrick Hamilton learnt that the hard way at the Ashes Brisbane Test, when he was escorted from his spot on the boundary by security for tapping a beach ball that fell onto the ground back to the crowd a few too many times.
An award-winning local photographer, Hamilton eventually earned the right to continue to take his photos from the stands after a bit of negotiation with security. The security personnel, of course, earned their fair share of boos from the fans for being party spoilers. And the fans, it is likely, lost a beach ball in due course.
On Thursday, Durham won their third Championship title in 21 years, a victory that was built entirely by players picked from the community. In the Telegraph, Scyld Berry says that the Durham's victory is an example of what can be achieved when new regions are empowered with first-class status. While admitting that the addition of another county may stretch first-class cricket resources too thin, Berry also suggests that the road ahead for English cricket may lie in empowering communities.
I suspect our inner cities contain many cricketers who play below the official radar of premier leagues, or never play formal cricket at all, now or in the past. Not a single England Test player has been born in Wolverhampton, one in Hull, two in Stoke-on-Trent, and one in Liverpool since the nineteenth century.
There needs to be a pathway for inner-city players of all ethnicities, who either have no access to proper cricket facilities or cannot afford to join the few inner-city clubs that exist, with their costly membership and match fees, quite apart from expensive kit.
Booing has been a fairly prominent feature in the Investec Ashes, with the English crowd regularly making its feelings towards the Australian players heard. At The Oval, after a day of dramatic cricket, Michael Clarke was unjustifiably subjected to the spectators' wrath, says Greg Baum, writing in the Age, where he explores why the fans of today heckle players.
A crowd by definition has its own mind, not necessarily in sync with any one member and more extreme than any of them. It is improbable that any would boo Clarke, Watson or O'Brien to their faces.Crowds never have been obliged to be nuanced and fair, of course. Many in history have been moved beyond even drunken verbal excess to terrible violence. AFL and cricket have in common that they have largely been spared this. Often, crowds in these sports are one-sided and intimidating, even blood-curdling. David Lloyd, former England batsman and coach, now ever charming pundit, once laughed off a call for a gentler polity in the stands in England during an Ashes series. ''I remember '74-'75, Lillee and Thomson,'' he said. ''No milk of human kindness then; it were 'kill, kill, kill'.''
Malcolm Knox, in the Sydney Morning Herald, directs his attention to the power shift in Ashes cricket with England beating Australia in four of the last five series, and yet the victors continue to fear their old rivals.
To some degree, Australia's best allies in this series were the English. If there was one team out there that had a 100 per cent, rock-solid belief that Australia could win Test matches, it was England. This began with the preparation of pitches. So scared were the English of Australia's fast bowlers, they ordered wickets that neutralised the strength in pace on both sides, and to some degree did England's batsmen as much harm as Australia's. Dry, slow, Indian-style wickets made it hard work for seamers and batsmen alike, all so that England could exploit their advantage in spin and occasionally reverse swing
In an article for Wisden India, Sara Torvalds, a Finland-based cricket fan, recounts a cricket tour that began with a comment to an online over-by-over session, of England's third Test against India in Kolkata, on the Guardian, and ended with three teams on a cricket pitch in Tallinn, Estonia. Along the way, she also shares her evolution from a person who knew nothing about the game to a person who became a Steven Finn supporter 'in a land of Finns'.
It took me more than a year of reading the cricket reports of various British papers. I started following the over-by-over reports on the Guardian's site, and found that the pace of the game opened up for me there. Wikipedia explained words like 'crease' and 'duck', and the various manners you could be 'out' according to the Laws of the game. And then, during England's tour of West Indies in early 2009, I suddenly understood cricket.
"Brilliant. It's utterly brilliant. It's like chess, but with real people," I remember thinking. "And you have to factor in the weather and how the ball behaves in different countries, and the fact that grounds are not uniform in size…" It hadn't been love at first sight, but I was in love now.