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David Hopps

We need a bust of Brezzie

Almost a month has passed since his 142 in the Championship final against Middlesex, but there was enough in that contribution to sustain a Yorkshire fan through the winter

David Hopps
David Hopps
Cast him in stone, someone  •  Getty Images

Cast him in stone, someone  •  Getty Images

The family Sunday lunch began in traditional fashion. Black Sheep bitter was back on tap at the Swan, and before too long the conversation, lightly oiled, veered towards cricket.
"I'll give you a column, our lad," came the promise halfway down the second pint.
Several hours later, by the time the plates were cleared at home, there were half a dozen columns to choose from. The only issue was that I didn't necessarily agree with some of them. But when ideas are found wanting, why not let someone else have their say?
One opinion did attract universal approval across three generations. There should be a bust of Tim Bresnan at Headingley. A very large bust. In fact, why not something akin to the Colossus of Rhodes, where the Greek sun god Helios once bestrode the harbour?
Well, maybe not quite the sun god. After all, sun is not the most reliable component of the Yorkshire landscape, as stunning as it is, so it would be a little out of keeping. And Yorkshire supporters might cavil about walking underneath a giant statue of Brezzie Lad clad only in a loin cloth as they entered the ground. "Don't look up now, Mavis, whatever you do." And, not to put too fine a point on it, polished bronze might not be easily affordable for a county mired in debt.
So a bust it should be. Nothing too fancy. There is apparently a Yorkshire sculptor, Shaun Gagg, who forges them from 2p pieces at his workshop in Filey, an unassuming resort on the east coast. He is currently working on a life-size sculpture of Jesus' crucifixion, made entirely out of nails, but once that is completed he can turn his attention to Bresnan and have it all done for the start of the 2017 season. The great thing about a sculpture made from 2p pieces is, you should be able to work out the cost of his materials relatively easily and thereby keep an eye on his mark-up.
The reason for such adulation as the beer slipped down arises from the final Championship match of the season - and Bresnan's heroic, and ultimately unrewarded, 142 not out against Middlesex in the Championship decider at Lord's. Almost a month has passed but here was something to sustain a Yorkshire cricket fan through the winter.
This was more than just a very fine innings. It was an innings that might have been hewn from the Yorkshire landscape itself, all the ingredients that make up regional pride stirred together and turned into a seven-hour show of immense defiance. Here was a reward for a bowler who responded to the loss of his England place by turning himself into a redoubtable county allrounder. For those who sometimes question why they care so much about this game - and I do - by the time Bresnan walked, sweat-stained, from the field, there was a renewed faith in its significance.
Whereas Bresnan is hereby to be preserved for posterity, Adil Rashid - often praised at the very same table - is now persona non grata as far as the most critical voice was concerned. Whereas Bresnan played against Middlesex, Rashid pulled out, initially because he felt he needed the sort of rest given to Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow ahead of England's winter tours, and subsequently because a relative had fallen ill. It had not gone unnoticed that Bairstow and Root were seen on TV in the dressing room on the final day but that Rashid was not.
By the end of the Bangladesh one-day series, which has since been concluded, Rashid was an early leader in England's Most Valuable Player ranking system, as adopted by the Professional Cricketers Association. He took four wickets in Chittagong as England settled the series, and even though three of them came from bad balls, an ample number of excellent balls ramped up the pressure. Rashid has started his international winter well and will feel his decision to sit out was justified.
That did not wash with some. Truculent opinions came with every mouthful of Yorkshire pudding. Rashid should never play for Yorkshire again. His success in Bangladesh had been "unwatchable". A Championship had been at stake last month - a historic third Championship - and not to want to play in that fixture was a betrayal both of his team-mates and every Yorkshire cricket follower in the county. The ethos of Yorkshire cricket had been insulted. A player in whom so much hope and affection had been invested had failed to value that emotional support when it mattered most.
Ethos, incidentally, is a Greek word, and when the Greeks erected the Colossus at Rhodes, the communal ideals that characterised them will have been known only too well.
If only it had been known that England's new T20 competition provisionally goes by the name of the Supercharge, that would have been another column's worth of invective. It is to be hoped the ECB has not paid a marketing company for a name like that. It sounds like a washing powder
Several hours later, the view was amplified by text message. Millions of people must have received text messages along the lines of "Thanks for a lovely Sunday lunch" but few of those will have been followed by implacable views about Adil Rashid. "Sorry for the Rashid rant, but I stand by all I said!" it read.
What is evident is this: if you tell people throughout their lives that something matters, it is important that you repeatedly reward their love by matching those standards. England's professional circuit has long been subservient to international needs, and those who love the game have come to accept it, but occasionally there are tipping points when anger surfaces. People don't like being had.
Many more potential columns exploded across the table. Eoin Morgan has been a catalyst as an England one-day captain, and his team-mates value him highly because of his determination that they should play with a free spirit, but directly across this table as younger brother held court there was little fondness for a player who was perceived - even before his withdrawal from the tour of Bangladesh because of safety reasons - as being overly driven by self-interest.
The conclusion on the Australian inquest into the death of Phillip Hughes also brought some vehement comments, this time resounding from all parts of the table. Why was there such a sad sense that the New South Wales players had felt threatened by cross examination into closing ranks? Why had they not openly stated what everybody involved in cricket knows: that the game, especially at the highest level, carries an element of risk, courage and machismo: that occasionally, even though cricket must be pressed to reduce that risk where it can, tragedies happen.
Some potential columns went begging. If only it had been known at the time that England's new T20 competition provisionally goes by the name of the Supercharge. That would have been another column's worth of invective. It is to be hoped the ECB has not paid a marketing company for a name like that. It sounds like a washing powder.
When it was all over, and the two visiting terriers were showing in now time-honoured manner that they wished to leave - by passing wind to such an extent that their further presence could no longer be tolerated - another Sunday lunch was concluded.
At the door, the eldest among us offered the wisdom of his 88 years. "He's been a belligerent bugger today, your brother," he said.
It takes a lot to be recommended for a bust at our Sunday lunches. Tim Bresnan should be pleased as punch.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps