December 2009


The girlfriend dragged me to the cinema this afternoon, we went to watch Nine, it was shit. Plus I missed Swann and Broad ripping open the chest and eating the still beating heart of South Africa. The Saffas lost six wickets for 23 runs in 71 balls. You’ll have to read about it on Cricinfo.

Until I turn the TV on. Then he and Broad seemed intent on blocking till lunch. Looking forward to some fireworks in the next session.

I love cricket. You can be one of the least naturally talented batsman in the side, look dreadful for two sessions, yet get by on determination and will. Strauss was wonderful for 50, Trott played lovely shots for 18, Pietersen “dumbslog millionaire” (see When Freddie Became Jesus) was great for 30, yet Cook made the hundred and looks to be batting England into a good position. Cricket, like life, takes all sorts, and I’m really pleased for Cook that he has made some runs.

It arrived at Christmas time. The book, long foretold by the prophet Jrod. There was snow all around. Messengers from the far exotic South arrived bearing the book, and yet I was not in to receive it.

The book was therefore left next door , a household of Jehovah’s Witnesses with South African in-laws. The book would never have survived had the inhabitants of said house been aware of its title or subject matter. The book was ‘When Freddie Became Jesus’.

The Village Cricketer's bookshelf

Ignore the title; this is not a book about Andrew Flintoff, or Jesus. Although the great Lancastrian features strongly and the author (Jarrod Kimber, aka Jrod) gets biblical with his language, this book is about the Ashes first and Jrod second. The biggest sporting event of the year and how Jrod fit into it : working as a cricket writer for the first time, being an Aussie in London and preparing to get married.

The Ashes = Two equally shit sides fight out an ancient rivalry that no one understands, but everyone cares about… An Ashes battle doesn’t have to be two champions to make it good to watch. These teams were evenly matched. So even though it was slapping and hair pulling, it was a tight contest of slapping and hair pulling.

The Ashes and Uncle Jrod (to give him his full pseudonym) are two entities that I have grown enormously fond of. It’s love, but good old-fashioned pat-on-the-back man love, nothing that would threaten Mrs Rod.

From reading his book, it is apparent that Jrod hates quite a few things: including Andrew Hilditch, Jerusalem, Stuart Broad, Shane Watson, and his year 11 English teacher. It is also obvious that he loves cricket, and it is this passion for the game, appreciation of a good contest and a hugely entertaining and irreverent writing style that really makes this book stand out.

If you’ve ever read Cricket With Balls (and if you haven’t you should), you’ll be familiar with the tone. The book format is similar – albeit easier to read when on the bog – but frustrating in that you cannot leaves comments mid-dump for the author’s consideration.

Don’t get me wrong, the book has faults. It’s got a few typos (including getting the URL for The Village Cricketer wrong (its ‘thevillagecricketer.com’, not ‘village cricketer.com’), he used my gag about him nearly killing Richie Benaud with swine-flu, and I was unable to find a copy of the book in either my local library or Waterstones (so you’ll have to buy it online).

But that is nit-picking.

‘When Freddie Became Jesus’ is an entertaining yet perverted romp through this year’s Ashes action. It’s amusing, well structured and really takes you back to watching the action unfold. It is also written for the common man. You aren’t being talked down to by a stuffed-shirted egg-and-bacon type, or ranted at by your typical one-eyed-Aussie commentator (Richie excepted), you get the passionate but fair thoughts, observations and commentary of the guy next to you in the pub (provided you’re sitting in a pub in South London, and there is a scruffy looking Aussie with you, and he’s called Jarrod, and he is working on Cricket With Balls).

It’s funny. He describes Steve Harmison as “a gerbil crossed with an electric tie organiser”, exclusively reveals that Shane Watson is the fiendish creation of a mad Nazi scientist and North Korea, and exposes ‘The Thorpe Dossier’, the thoughts of England’s great nuggetty left-hander on the Australian side and how to beat it.

Did I mention it’s perverted too? Jrod fantasizes about a lubed –up, caged and naked Ian Bell, and contemplates a raunchy threesome involving Graham Onions, Lily Allen and Graham Onions’ girlfriend.

I once said that there was only one Australian whose opinion on cricket I respected –Richie Benaud. There are now two. Oh, and Jrod, I’ll proof read your next book if you like. ‘When Freddie Became Jesus’ now sits proudly on my bookshelf, between ‘The Art of Captaincy’ and ‘A Lot of Hard Yakka’. Right now, a couple of beers in and a Christmas movie on the box, it’s better than both.

What a terrific day of test cricket. After two days in which the Saffas crawled along, the test finally came to life with wickets and runs in a hurry.

It is difficult to imagine an England team without Graeme Swann right now, his performances this year have been truly heartening, but what is more, the manner in which he performs is a joy. He bowls, he bats and he fields, he gives good interviews, has a sense of humour, and has way more personality than the current Sports Personality of the Year.

After the batsman dug England into a hole, Swann took the attack back to the South African’s today with a sparkling knock, and even inspired Jimmy Anderson to stick around and play some great shots. Putting on more than a hundred for the ninth wicket dragged England back into the match, and grabbed the initiative.

Big day tomorrow, but if England can skittle them for under 200, its game on.

More one way streets in Australia. Sulieman Benn gets fined and banned for very little. More Australians getting pissy at anyone standing up to their bully-boy antics. Watch it here.

One Aussie at least, albeit the closet anglophile Uncle Jrod , has perspective.

When The Village Cricketer isn’t writing about cricket, I have a day job, that – at its basest level – involves persuading journalists to say good things about companies that pay me.

As part of this work I get to me a lot of journalists. A few years ago I met the business presenter from BBC Breakfast, and felt compelled to mention that I wasn’t hugely impressed with the level of cricket knowledge displayed by BBC Breakfast sports presenter, the same one that is currently banditing his way to the final with ‘Olachops’ on Strictly. Basically, either Chris doesn’t know a lot about cricket, or tries to over-simplify things for the 3,000,000 people that watch him in the morning.

BBC picks wrong winner in major event

What is certain, Test Match Special aside, the BBC doesn’t seem to understand cricket, and so instead gives it fleeting, uneducated mention. Tonight, it kind of proved it.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m chuffed to bits that the England cricket team won team-of-the-year on the Sports Personality of the Year Awards. Problem is, I’m not sure it was the right England cricket team. Granted, winning the Ashes was a tremendous achievement. However, this was also a year in which England threw away a series it should have won in the West Indies, remains woeful at T20 and got a hell of a hiding of the Aussies in the ODI series following the Ashes.

Instead, England’s ladies cricket team should have got this one. It won the Ashes, the World Cup and the T20 World Cup inside a year, and they bothered to turn up for the event!

Mind you, Ryan Giggs got Sports Personality of the Year, and he doesn’t really have a personality. Surprises all round.

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