Monday, 27 January 2014

Pages Of... cricket!

In another departure from the hallowed turf of this here blog, we also had a piece published in a fantastic magazine called Pages Of (which, incidentally, is co-edited by Mrs Tragics). It's loosely about trying to explain why cricket is awesome to people who probably don't care, with some half-baked stuff about social history and national identity.

Oh and there's some excellent pictures of Hyde Heath cricketers. Chris, remind me to send you your copies!

Here's the opening bit:

I find it difficult to say when exactly I fell in love with cricket, or indeed why. I remember the first time I really followed the sport obsessively: it was 1997, I was 12, and my father had recently taken me to Lord’s, the “home of cricket” to watch a one-day international between old foes England and Australia. The match has since become famous for the sparkling debut performance of the 19 year-old Ben Hollioake, who died just five years later when he crashed his Porsche into a wall outside Perth in Australia. But for me, it was the series that followed – The Ashes – that marked the origins of my near-obsessive passion for cricket. What is strange is that, recently rifling through an untouched drawer in my childhood bedroom, I came across imaginary scorecards and team selection lists that included players from years before that – players I don’t remember having even seen, live or on the television.

But it’s 1997 that stands out. The Ashes that year was a six-Test series (six matches of five days each, taking place over the course of eleven long summer weeks). It was a rarity then; unheard of now, as the game begins to change irrevocably. What, I think, struck me then about cricket was a sense of slow unraveling not seen in any other sport that I know of. 

To read the rest, buy the magazine!

Thursday, 23 January 2014

The Architecture of Cricket Grounds

Cricket Tragics recently branched out by having a slightly peculiar piece of writing about the architecture of cricket grounds published in an amazing quarterly magazine called The Nightwatchman. It's published by Wisden and has articles by real writers like Marcus Berkmann, Mark Rice-Oxley, and Dileep Premachandran. Plus, it's made of paper rather than internet.

Naturally, we were pretty excited. Here's the first few sentences by way of a taster:

If, as Nevile Cardus wrote in 1930, “cricket is a game which must always be less than its true self if it is taken...out of the weather of our English summer”, then what are we to make of The Oval as it stands, wet and empty, on a cold November morning? The cynic, or the Englishman, might point out that the wet and the cold are both integral parts of the summer sport in this country, just as likely in August as they are in November. And, indeed, the fourth day of the Ashes test match here was a total washout, with the match ultimately ending in a draw despite Michael Clarke's aggressive double declaration. I was there on the opening day, when Shane Watson made the most of a close LBW escape and some nervy bowling from Chris Woakes and Simon Kerrigan to post a big and belligerent hundred.

But it feels an age away now, as water drips slow and sad from concrete overhead to soggy concrete underfoot. As an art critic by trade, I'm used to visiting museums and galleries when they're closed to the general public. No hordes of schoolchildren, no frazzled parents, no tired tourists: just a white-walled calm, and the time to stand and look and think. It's quite a privilege. But a cricket ground, on the other hand, becomes a kind of ghost, or theatre of ghosts – an empty arena reverberating around the silence of past events, glories, players, public.

And yet, this emptiness and the absence of cricket starts to focus the attention on the ground itself...

To read the rest, buy the magazine