Ashes 2009

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 ‘’, not ‘village’), 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.


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.

Good old Uncle Jrod. The Big Cheese of Cricket with Balls moved from Melbourne to London for three reasons:
1. The win the Bloggers’ Ashes
2. To watch Australia win the Ashes
3. To get married

Poor old Uncle Jrod. At least he managed to get married, and The Village Cricketer again offers him congratulations. Just a shame – for him – that the other two objectives went tits up.

Congratulations are also in order because he is publishing a book. ‘Ashes 2009: When Freddie Became Jesus’. Its available now from all good online book stores. Would make a good Christmas pressie for someone.

I’d tell you more, but Jrod writes so many posts I couldn’t find the one he must have written about the book, so you’ll have to wait until I review it. Jrod has promised to send me a copy to digest when he gets a few copies in. You’ll get to read about it here. I’m assuming there is a whole bunch of stuff about the Ashes – which we won – and hopefully some stuff about the Bloggers’ Ashes.

The boy from Patone has also contributed some words to the book, which means that there are two writers in the same book that I have beaten on a cricket field. However, I’ve not written a book, so I’d suggest you go and buy this one now.

Should Matt Prior go through a lean spell after February 2010 then it is entirely feasible that England’s numbers 4, 5 and 6 be made up of Yarpie farm boys. Kieswetter, who qualifies as a Pom this winter, looks quality. Pietersen will return. And Jonathan Trott has sealed his place in the England team with a quality knock against the Aussies, on a tricky pitch, and when it really counted.

Trott batted magnifcently. At no stage did he look in any trouble. His shots were crisp, hit temperement tempered and he provided the solidity that England’s middle order have sadly lacked all summer. England have probably done enough to guarantee a win in this test, however, one shouldn’t tempt fate by citing inevitabilities.

England’s bowlers failed to make inroads into the Aussie batsmen this evening, but a good day tomorrow could see England claim the Urn 2-1. I’ve got a nagging feeling that it won’t be that easy.

Blimey george! Stuart Broad is on fire. Three weeks ago he was up for the chop and England’s biggest bowling loser. Now, 11 wickets later, he has possibly bowled England to the brink of an Ashes series winning win.

I really don’t want to tempt fate here, so I’m not saying anything more!

307 for 8 isn’t necessarily quite where England would want to be at the end of day 1, however, it isn’t necessarily the worst start to a test that will produce a result.

On a classic Oval belter England would have wanted 500 at least. This, however, is not a classic Oval belter. It looks two paced and it has turned already.

Crucially England has batted first. England would want at least another 50 tomorrow morning, however, they are in the game, have the better bowlers for the conditions and everything to play for. Game on!

Oh, and this is the first time I’ve seen Jonathan Trott bat. He looks good and reminded me of Steve Waugh. That can’t be a bad thing.

So, England have replaced Bopara with Trott for the final test. Trott was the next cab off the rank, but it is a massive ask for him to come in and perform on the biggest stage possible at the first time of asking.

It could of been Bopara or Bell he replaced, both players that have shoine brightly against second rate test sides before being exposed against the very best. I reckon that Bopara is a better long term bet that Bell, but I guess you have a problem when you have three batsmen (Collingwood, Bell and Bopara) all best suited to and fighting for a number 5 spot.

Fingers crossed.

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