Look, from an American sporting perspective I am pretty happy to be living in Boston. The Red Sox won the World Series. Again. The Patriots are still the team to beat after so many Super Bowl wins and finals in the last few years. The Celtics made history in basketball when they whipped the Lakers for the crown this year. The Revolutions are top of the league in soccer after making the finals for 3 years in a row. Hell, even the Bruins improved this year on the ice. Yep, it is pretty good to be in Boston if you like American sport. Or what they call sport.
But Americans really don’t play any sport. Oh they call it sport, but it really isn’t. American football (known incorrectly as Gridiron by some) are really only played by bunch of wimps. So much steroids, protective gear and stop-and-start kinda play that they look more like Transformers running low on batteries. Basketball is really just netball played by guys in over-sized pajama pants. Ice hockey is for guys who are too sober to get involved in a proper bar fight. Their soccer is watched by an average crowd of 7, including family, friends and coaching staff. And baseball is for guys who can’t play cricket.
Ah, cricket. Good old cricket. Nothing like watching the swing of the willow sitting on the Oaks at Newlands. Have a braai and a beer (and Klippies offered by your neighbour). I miss good old cricket. It isn’t shown on television over here. Americans just don’t get it. Their eyes glass over when I try to explain that it is a game played for five days from 10 am to 6 pm with a lunch break and two tea breaks each day – and you are still not guaranteed a result. Except if it is England playing and you pretty much know they will lose. But Americans can’t handle anything that will potentially interfere with the trip to the mall or watching daytime soaps. Or work for that matter. Short attention span. They have ADD when it comes to cricket.
And they don’t get the names either. Here it is all blood and gore – Steelers, Cowboys, Jaguars, Giants, Bears and more in the NFL (football). The Devils, Thrashers, Hurricanes, Avalanche, Predators, Flames and more in the NHL (ice hockey). Fire, Revolution, Earthquakes and more in MLS (soccer). We have the Warriors, Hawks, Rockets, Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Raptors and more in the NBA (basketball). And MLB (baseball). Well, let’s just say that the Brewers, Royals, Twins, Blue Jays and Sox don’t quite have the same bite to it. And what the hell is an Oriole? Is it a breakfast or a bird? Can you imagine them being known by the proper Latin name – The Baltimore Icterus Galbula? Anyway… The Proteas just doesn’t have the same ring or sting to it when it comes to the more blood and gore type names Americans love so much. (Note to self – look if there is a link between President Bush’s approach to foreign policy and the violent names of American sport teams.)
But I follow the cricket. Especially now when South Africa is doing their yearly humiliation of England. (Did I hear anyone say 1 up?) Like I said, I can’t watch it. But I read it. On my mobile phone. Via the live texting of the BBC. It is brilliant. Not the actual cricket, but the commentating. I know South Africa will win, but I keep on following the live texts because of the sense of humor and descriptions given by the BBC team. They are really special. Got to love the English for that. They might be getting their backsides kicked by Kallis, Ntini, Prince and the gang, but they sure know how to commentate. And keep you laughing all the way. It might be all they have left in sport – a good sense of humor. The play cricket, rugby and soccer like a bunch of clowns in any case.
I now check the updates every hour or so. It’s less about the cricket score than the wisdom and wise cracks from the BBC team. I want to share a few with you. It’ll hopefully give you an insight into British humor. Unfortunately it won’t help you understand cricket any more than eating a burger will help you drive better. There is no link. But I hope you enjoy these. I’ll might try to update these over the next few days. Now, sit back and enjoy the company of the BBC cricket commentators – in their words. It all started with their first text update this morning… (It’s in UK time and remember to read it in a ‘proper’ English accent.
10:33 – New Kid’s out on his ear because he upset ‘team unity’ (is the England dressing room actually some delicate eco-system?) and Colly’s back on the back of a few runs in a Twenty20 knockabout. If I was Owais Shah or Ravi Bopara, not only would I be a different colour, I’d be a little bit irritated as well.
It’s all so chummy, I wouldn’t be surprised if the England team all bundled round Vaughany’s mum and dad’s house for a pyjama party after today’s play. Maybe Colly’s back in the side because he can get his hands on Porky’s?
11:28 – The man to the left of me has just pulled out a plum of a lookalike – Morkel and 1980’s ‘Brat Pack’ stalwart Anthony Michael Hall. If you were to stretch Morkel on a rack like a Catholic martyr, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.
Vaughny was pricklier than the famed Jungle Book paw-paw in his Aggers interview. He said it with a laugh but it was saucer of milk for table two stuff.
11:54 – Plenty of empty seats at Edgbaston, not sure why that is. It’s got all the atmosphere of a nursing home Christmas party at the moment.
12:06 – Nel – or is it Gunther? – strolls down the wicket and spits a few verbals Cook’s way. I’ve got to be honest, Nel seems more simple than intimidating. It must be like batting against Lennie from Of Mice and Men. He drags another one in short – not sure why he keeps doing that, this pitch has the consistency of a lemon drizzle cake.
12:16 – A few more strokes like that and the ball will be speaking the Queen’s English.
Send back the defibrillators, I think this pitch might already be dead…
12:36 – Umpire Dar had no doubts, although Vaughan looks at him as though he’s just found him heavy petting with his mother on the sofa as he leaves the field.
12:46 – Cook gropes at an away-cutter from Nel and the South African paceman grins maniacally, like a staggering drunk who’s just seen up a lady’s skirt.
13:39 – I have o report that the England skipper is getting absolutely slaughtered in your email, anyone would think he’d nutted the pope.
13:59 – Another wicked delivery from Morkel Cook nibbling before pulling his bat out of the way as if he’s just been caught with his hands in his mother’s handbag.
14:12 – He actually has pretty good figures in test and first-class cricket but he’s had about as much cutting edge as a jam roly-poly in this series so far.
14:16 – If Graeme Smith is the nasty prison governor from Shawshank Redemption, Nel is the bully-club wielding prison guard.
14:25 – I’d hate to be there when something genuinely bad actually happens to Nel – he reacted to Bell hitting that four as if he’s just seen his car. Nel lets out a primeval roar – Gunther is clearly a very angry man.
14:42 – This England team reminds me of when I used to want to hang about with my older brother and his mates when I was a kid. My brother used to tolerate me, but you could tell he never really wanted me there. I got a bit choked up writing that.. such sad memories…
14:52 – Nel roars in Smith’s direction – Smith better watch his back, drop another catch and Nel will make his ears into a necklace.
15:00 – There’s former England skipper Graham Taylor in the stand – black shades, black shirt, white tie, he looks like he’s going to pull out a Tommy gun and start strafing the South African fielders.
15:05 – And he’s tighter than the elephant man’s hatband today.
15:11 – Thank God for that, watching the Durham man trying to get off the mark was like watching open heart surgery.
15:18 – The Durham man staggers out of his crease like a man emerging from solitary confinement.
15:26 – Does anyone else feel like trying to understand the England selectors is like banging your head against a brick wall whilst wearing a straight jacket and being held upside down in a vat of marmalade?
15:37 – As an England fan, I would rather smash my arm repeatedly in a car door than watch much more of this…
15:43 – Ambrose – another in the England batting line-up who makes Bill Wyman look like Gary Sobers at the moment. Old Nel is madder than a box of frogs.
… that’s tea. I’m sure it will be a cosy one in the England dressing room, all chums together sharing out the Werther’s Originals and telling tales of the 2005 Ashes series. I can just imagine Vaughany leaning forward in his armchair like Uncle Albert and proclaiming every now and again: “During the 2005 Ashes…” I wonder if they’ve got an open fire up there?
16:04 – Regarding the reference to the Elephant Man, whatever happened to him, he made on good film and no-one’s seen him since?
16:13 – Surely a couple of Ambrose failures here will lead him to being dropped – the Warwickshire gloveman looks like he’s been batting with an upright hoover for most of this summer.
16:19 – Nel chuntering down to the deep mid-wicket rope like a startled rhinoceros.
16:35 – Watching Flintoff having to bat like this makes for rather painful viewing, it’s like Maradona playing at full-back.
16:49 – Nel licks his fingers and grins, like a naughty boy who’s just polished off a sticky bun.
17:11 – Watching these two batsmen scratch away, I just had the sudden urge to start singing Onward Christian Soldiers. I’ve also got this image in my head of Freddie and Ambrose under siege in a dilapidated building, poking their heads round the corner every few minutes to fire a couple of shots.
17:30 – Good job Ntini ducked or his team-mates would have had to rechristen him Anne Boleyn.
17:37 – If you’d have believed my nan, her glory years were spent wearing a tin helmet in a coal shed fending off rats the size of rottweilers while the German bombs fell all around her. A deeply miserable woman, she didn’t tend to go out much after the War ended.
17:47 – Most of the England players are looking a little bit sheepish in the field, like schoolboys shuffling nervously outside the headmaster’s office awaiting to hear their fate.
18:02 – The South Africa openers could only look more relaxed if they were basted in butter.
18:05 – A day spent browsing for ceiling tiles in B&Q would have raised the spirits higher than this.
End of day 1… With the South Africans way on top. England all out for 230 and South Africa sitting pretty at 38 for one. Now, where is that beer and braai…