Monday, August 21, 2006


The brouhaha surrounding the forfeiting of the test match by the Pakistan team made the headlines this morning in the English newspapers. Those of you who know nothing of cricket, and probably care even less, may as well leave now, since nothing that follows will be comprehensible or even probably of interest to you.

The nub of the matter is that the umpires inferred that Pakistan had been tampering with the ball. Subsequently both the Pakistani team and then the umpires had hissy fits and the game was handed to England like a kebab on a skewer. All most unsatisfactory.

It revolves around the phenomenon that a tampered or damaged ball can be made to “reverse swing.” This is something that has only burst upon the cricketing scene in the past few years, rather in the same way that Los Alamos ushered in the nuclear era, and apparently produces a similar fall-out.

To me it seems remarkable that cricket has been played for a couple of hundred years but only now has this ability to “reverse swing” the ball become apparent.

Stone Age man almost certainly did quite a lot of rock chucking and I’m sure it didn’t take him 200 years to find out how to do it.

“See old Ig , him from cave 34? See how he plugged that mammoth in the short ribs? Lovely bit of reverse swing he got on that rock. Better sign him up for the first team next week.”

For me, personally, it has all been most revealing. Many years ago I used to open the batting for the local club. I retained this position by virtue of being chairman of the selection committee, and I strongly recommend this approach to any one wishing to make a name for themselves in club cricket. Our captain remained at his post unchallenged as he was the local publican and controlled the post game booze-up. Power is more important than performance in this game.

As a batsman I certainly looked the part. My walk out to the middle was confident, I took guard with a flourish, my stance was upright, left elbow up, and there was barely a glimmer of daylight ‘twixt bat and pad. People would comment on my professionally nonchalant pose when at the non-striker’s end. Yet I would still get out. It was the subject of much discussion in the pub afterwards. “You looked well set,” they would say, “Bad luck, old chap.” We were innocent and naïve in those days. Had we known better, perhaps we would have found the solution but, like doctors grappling with an unknown disease, we knew nothing of “reverse swing,” for that was, of course, what must have been the problem all along.

Now I’m not a great one for conspiracy theories but on mulling this over, a sinister thing has occurred to me. The cricket balls we used were manufactured in India, which in those days had just been prised away from the British Raj. What if one of the ball-stitchers had been a Pakistani? Could it not have been all a devious plot to prevent me from playing for England?

I’m writing to the ICC about it. The way they behave I’m sure they’ll investigate.


Post a Comment

<< Home