No 55: Dharamsala

Small towns are rare in India (by population standards) and probably the rarest you could find an international cricket stadium located in a town with population of merely 25,000. Yes, I am talking about Dharamsala, the home of the Tibetan Government in Exile and its head Dalai Lama. The town is located in Himalayas and has an international cricketing venue – HPCA Stadium which has the capacity to fit over 80% of the town’s population. So what’s the fuss is about? Why is it one of the reasons to love cricket?

Its because of the mesmerizing backdrop you could see while watching cricket. I am not arguing that it is the most comfortable or cozy ground to watch cricket but certainly good enough to take your breadth away!! A unique venue for cricket with an altitude of 4780 ft above sea level allowing you to witness snow capped mountains in the background and feel the cold wind breezing across the stadium. No doubt, it was featured in Cricinfo’s list of top grounds to watch cricket. Add this to your to visit list NOW!!

PS: The population figures are just an estimate116258

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No 53: India vs Pakistan

If you do love sports, you must have given a thought on the most heated and greatest rivalries in international sports atleast once. And your answers would depend a lot on your love for a particular sport, your perspective, age or country. But despite all there are few rivalries in global sports which no one could deny. So, give it a thought and tell me what comes to your mind?

May be the one between the boxing legends of the 70s – “Joe Frazier vs. Muhammad Ali”  OR may be the Spanish football clubs – “Real Madrid vs. Barcelona” OR if you lived on the east coast of the states, you would think of “Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees” OR if you love Latin American nations, your vote would go for “Argentina vs. Brazil” in soccer OR for once you could think of “USA vs. China” in Olympics. I also asked this question to one of my classmates at London Business School wearing our rugby club hoodie and he told me – “Dude, it’s obvious – Australia vs. New Zealand!”. But probably neither of this would make sense to you if you belonged to the Indian subcontinent or love the true gentlemen’s game.

People in the Indian subcontinent think that “India vs. Pakistan in Cricket” is the answer and so does the Wall Street Journal to some extent. The rivalry that has been going on for over six decades brings the Indian subcontinent to a standstill drugging it with jingoism and chauvinism. Two nations, fought three wars and are bitter rivals in every sport they play, have had one of the closest encounters in every form of cricket with many matches going down to the last over.

My childhood memories of this rivalry goes back only to the early 90s when I started understanding this game and the defining moment being the famous tussle between “Venkatesh Prasad and Aamir Sohail” during the 1996 World Cup Quarterfinal match in Bangalore. Prasad, not the quickest among the Indian pack (actually we never had quick bowlers), beautifully answered to Aamir’s sledging (see the video below) by taking his wicket on the very next ball and became an overnight Indian hero. That moments – an Indian triumph, dance on the streets, firecrackers in every corner and even sounds of firing of guns in the air are still intact in my memories. That became the defining moment for me for this IndvsPak rivalry.

When I asked my father, he cited a different example as the defining moment for this rivalry but a bitter one for him and Indian supporters. Chetan Sharma, a hat-trick guy bowler during the 1987 World Cup, became a prey to Javed Miandad when Javed hit a last ball six to take Pakistan to victory in the Australasia Cup final, Sharjah in 1986 (see the video below).

The list doesn’t end here and there are many more games and things to write about IndvsPak. The league match superover and the final of the T20 World Cup 2007, the famous Chennai TestMiandad’s mocking of Kiran More, Sidhu’s anger by showing his bat to Aamir Sohail and Sachin’s cut to Six against Rawalpindi Express (Shoaib Akhtar) are some of the ‘ugly-lovely’ moments. And trust me, this has no end!!

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No 45: Disappointment!

This was suggested by one of our other contributors after yet another defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory by an ever more flummoxed [currently] England team. Disappointment is the default mode of most cricket fans, even if you are currently on a high, you just know that sometime, probably soon and certainly well before later, your team is going to disappoint you. You fully understand that a single dropped catch can lead to total meltdown, even within the best teams and before you know it, those celebratory drinks in the pub are more of a wake for what might have been. You have a firm grasp on the laws of cricket sod, can appreciate every nuance of a bad bowling spell just when you needed your most reliable ball chucker to dig you out of a hole; of a golden duck when a 50 is normally easily knocked off by your No3. Whether it’s a Sunday afternoon knockabout or an International fixture, regardless of whether you are urging on South Africa or the South Ambleside 2nd XI [a club entirely of my own invention for literary purposes] matters not, the safest place to view it all from is the boundary of disappointment.

So why I hear you mumble, through the mouthful of bile you are spitting at the latest defeat, is this possibly a cricket Love? There are two reasons, let me explain…

The first is the more obvious, possibly even clichéd, but no less valid for that – it’s because the disappointment makes the good times feel even better. Take a look at the photo below and witness if you will, the unbridled joy at an unexpected win near the end of a pretty unremarkable, nay, ‘disappointing’ season for Somerset in 2013. It was the end of August and before this LVCC match, they had only 1 championship win to their name before coming to face a Middlesex team that had out performed even the hopes of the most optimistic pundits. The Somerset lot had the best remedy for default disappointment available, whilst the Middlesex lot had that all too familiar bitter taste back in their mouths.

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The second reason is slightly more abstract but I defy any fan to argue against it – because secretly, deep down, probably hidden in a dark festering corner, we love it! We revel in cricketing disappointment, it gives us myriad excuses to lay bare the reason for the disappointment, to dissect, to cogitate over, to offer our own opinions on what should have been done, or what shall be done in the future. To demonstrate this, witness if you will the column inches and blog posts given over to ‘analysis’ when disappointment levels ratchet up. Count up the number of articles questioning decisions, actions, outcomes and alternatives. They are many, varied and always far more copious than in victory. Oh, and don’t for one minute think this is merely the media filling space, a few hours on twitter after a win and then a loss will set you right on that score. After a win, people will hang around for a brief while expounding their teams various virtues before heading off to their own lives with a self satisfied smile on their face, disappointment temporarily gone [but never forgotten, that would be just too stupid to contemplate] If a defeat was the outcome, the post-mortems can go on for hour after hour, debates will rage about what went wrong, individual players will be torn apart for the smallest error. Now OK, I am stating this from an ‘English’ perspective and as a nation, we are given to being naturally pessimistic [probably weather related] but from what little I have a seen, I have a sneaky suspicion this is not only an English affliction, I suspect this is a cricket affliction, regardless of the colours you wear on your replica kit. We are all cricket fans, and we all come to the conclusion eventually that disappointment is the optimum mood to adopt, because it’s part of what makes cricket what it is.

No. 43: The Parks

It’s just down the road from the museum. Some might say that the location is apposite.

For me, however, the University Parks in Oxford – The Parks in cricketing parlance – are a repository of memories. Walk down from the dreaming spires, past the University Museum and into a verdant urban space. I spent the lunch break of a school outing transfixed by the cricketers who use the centre, the accidental discovery of a high quality match in the midst of the city, unwatched by the joggers and park footballers who share the field. One time, the first ball I saw was launched for four by Graeme Hick to bring up his hundred. Part of the beauty of the ground is its accessibility and openness – you can just drop in for a session. It also offers a rare proximity – one time, stood by the pavilion, I heard the changing room clunk of a just-dismissed batsman’s hurled helmet. You can field the ball off boundaries and chat with boundary fielders. You can stand by the nets whilst the pros practice, and then have a go yourself.

One time, watching the Varsity Match, I chatted to two American exchange students. They were looking round Oxford for some material for a presentation on something quintessentially English. They had come into The Parks and stumbled across cricket. They weren’t to know that this match, with its anachronistic First Class status, was more English than most, but I explained the basics: straight arms, six balls, six runs, and why the players had apparently randomly wandered off for a cup of tea. This is the beauty of the ground; as the only free First Class ground in the country, there is a haphazard nature to the crowd. There rarely is one, but the grounds are full of joggers and pub footballers, couples and picnickers. The cricket fades into the background, softened but not overshadowed.

The intimacy this bucolic setting offers, combined with the insight proximity offers, seems to relax the game. Even when huddled against Arctic winds in April (the free entry means you don’t feel so guilty leaving early), the ground feels cosy. This is cricket at its approachable best – top level sport unfranchised and unadulterated, available and accessible. At the Varsity Match, essentially club cricket elevated by tradition and historic pedigree, you wander past revising girlfriends, dismissed batsmen, the intimacy of village cricket combined with understated quality. The players wear traditional cable-knit jumpers. The Victorian pavilion is neat and half-timbered, suitable for a pastoral Lord’s. You can sit on the bench that serves as a memorial to Colin Cowdrey. It is outdated, twee and quite beautiful.

Moreover, it is an Oxford experience. Wander through from High Street, past the grandeur of the Bodleian Library and the University Museum, the dreaming spires behind you, and you arrive at The Parks, urban escape at its finest. Some would see the cricket played here as almost as prehistoric as the dinosaur footprints up the road. But a world away from the IPL, under cloud-streaked spring skies, the game continues as it did decades ago, fading into the background of a beautiful day.

No. 40: Sir Paul Getty’s Ground, Wormsley

Buckinghamshire is not renowned as one of the great regions of world cricket. It has plenty of history, with cricket being recorded there as early as 1730, and the County Cricket Club itself actually declined the opportunity to join the County Championship in 1921, over concerns about the standard of their facilities. It has won the Minor Counties championship nine times, and famously beat Somerset in the 1987 NatWest Trophy.

It is also home to possibly the most beautiful cricket ground in England, perhaps even the world.

Set in the rolling hills of Wormsley Park, Sir Paul Getty’s Ground is a monument to the beauty of simplicity. It is a relic of a bygone age – in an era of stadia, it is a true cricket ground. The immaculate playing surface is situated inside a grassy amphitheatre, flanked on one side by a thatched mock-Tudor pavilion, and on the other by an old-style manual scoreboard, behind which the Chiltern Hills slope up towards the clouds. The only sounds are those of the wind, and that of leather on willow. Occasionally, some polite applause. It really is like being in another world.

Getty was a life-devotee to everything English, and a few years after being introduced to the game by Mick Jagger, he had fallen so in love with the game that he decided to build the idyll we see today, loosely based on The Oval. For twenty years it has stood as a shrine to both his philanthropy and to the game he adored so much.

During the course of a match, should you look up the chances are you will see a Red Kite swirling around on the rolling breeze. After having been extinct in England and Scotland for many years, they were reintroduced on Getty’s land in 1989 as part of a project to increase their population, and are now a signature part of the park.

For those lucky enough to visit, there are few places that can match up to the experience of watching cricket at Wormsley. They have played host to many international sides, from Australia, the West Indies, Sri Lanka and South Africa, and of course, they hosted the 2013 Women’s Ashes Test.

That match was my unforgettable experience of Wormsley. As you climb the hill up to pitch level the view awaiting you genuinely takes your breath away. You are consumed by the majesty of the place, and it is easy to see why it is so beloved of players and fans alike.

A lot of grounds draw their lustre from their sense of history and tradition – for example Lord’s, or The Oval. Some are so big that, when full, they produce an experience like no other, such as the MCG or Eden Gardens. Grounds like Wormsley, however, are just stunningly attractive places to watch cricket, and in my view, it is as close to Heaven on Earth as you are likely to find.

No. 38 Those Matches

The seven year old sat glued to the TV.

This was the first summer he had watched organised cricket.  He had played it for hours with the other children who lived in the compound on the sub-continent, until he watched the first test at the WACA he had not seen it at this level.  Visiting his Grandparents in Australia, he had watched the TV with interest for as much of the tests in Perth, Brisbane and Adelaide as his parents (and grandparents) would allow.

Another over passed unscathed.  A few more to the total, but it was still unlikely…

This match was different. His grandparents had taken him to see the second day of play live.  England had been bowled out just on stumps the night before and the Aussies were batting.  He had ridden the highs and lows of the day – his hero was out hooking first ball, but the wicketkeeper had scored a fifty to go with a couple of others from the batsmen. Like the Englishmen the previous day, they were all out right on stumps, a princely lead of three runs on the first innings.

A streaky shot and a few more to the total.  There was just a possibility that they could what had seemed impossible.

The English second innings saw a third straight day where the innings finished just on stumps.  England had been in trouble early but a couple of partnerships had made sure they posted a reasonable total – ten more than their first innings and seven more than the Aussies only innings.  The match was set up for a stellar finish.

With the field pushed back, the batsman took another comfortable single to put the number eleven on strike.  Another run closer.

The Aussie second innings had swung wildly from one side to the other.  First the Aussies seemed in the best position, until the opening partnership was broken and then the captain fell cheaply again.  A third wicket shortly afterwards had England in the box seat.  However a fourth wicket partnership of 100 had seemed to settle the result.  However both batsmen were out within two runs, and another couple of wickets 17 runs later left England in dominant position.  Two more wickets fell as Border was given singles so that the English team could work on the tail.

An edge for four and against all odds, these two had taken Australia within one well hit shot of victory.  The boy could hardly believe what he was watching.  

The final pairing had come together needing 74 runs to win.  Border had been out of form all series, and Thompson was not expected to last long.  England had won the match.  But the two Queenslanders had other ideas.  Border was under very little pressure due to the English tactic of giving him runs in an effort to get to Thompson. Thommo for his part gritted it out, and even occasionally hit a half decent shot.  For the first time in the game, a team survived to stumps.  More than that the last pair had halved their target: 37 still to get.

The tension was almost too much to bear.  One ball was all it could take…either way.  

Given that the day could end first ball, the gates were thrown open for the last day.  After four days where the match had been so enthralling, 18000 people turned up to see the end.  Millions more watched on TV.  Border and Thompson had inched their way towards the target against the new ball.

Botham came on to bowl the 18th over of the day.  Ball took the edge of Thompson’s bat.  The boy’s heart went into his mouth.  Dropped! … no… caught!  England had won.  

Tavare had dropped the catch at slip, but it had bounced up, not down, and Miller had come around behind him to complete the catch and a three run victory.  All four innings had been completed with scores between 284 and 294.  The match had been close throughout with the ascendancy moving backwards and forwards.  

Even as a seven year old he knew that this was one of “those matches”, the extra special ones that make cricket such a joy (win or lose).  He went on to watch many more of those matches- Australia and the West Indies in Adelaide 1993, The Ashes in Adelaide in 2006, Australia and Pakistan in Hobart in 1999, Trent Bridge 2013 just to mention a few-  But it was the first of these that sealed his love for cricket.  

No 37: Lords – The Home of Cricket

I have been mulling over writing this one pretty much since @legsidelizzy first tweeted this blog before Christmas and even now, I am not sure I am up to the task of doing this one justice. Where do you start with such a icon of the cricketing world? This is not a player for whom you can wax lyrical about his cover drive, or ability to swing it both ways [ooerrr missus] or even quote stats & records, though Lords has seen plenty of those in it’s lifetime. It is not a pretty village pavilion nor inner city rough but ready pitch, the starting point of so many illustrious careers held in deep affection only by those that have lived in the locale. No, Lords is often the pinnacle of those careers, it is the symbolism of having ‘made it’, the absolute peak of cricketing greatness on so many levels. So, if this mighty edifice in the heart of St John’s Wood is so great, why does a diminutive [metaphorically and literally] soul like myself always feel so at home the moment I walk through the gates? I guess that is the point of this post, I am going to explain from a simple point of view why the self styled Home of Cricket is worthy of being one of our 500 Loves. This isn’t about history per se, or the intricacies of the MCC and its role, it is about the actual physical place that is Lords and those that work and play within its walls.

The first time I walked into Lords, via the tradesmans entrance otherwise known as the North Gate [which despite the glamour of other gates, is still my preferred way in, there is something about the build up, walking past the Nursery, players out there in training kit, often having a knock around with a football] it was all rather surreal. I had of course seen this cathedral of cricket worship on the TV, but that first view of the lovely old groundsmen sheds alongside the Nursery ground, the back of the spaceship Media Centre dominating the skyline, it was all a bit, well, weird. The sharp contrast between the traditional and contemporary bits didn’t jar in the way I would expect, it just all felt so right, so familiar and yet so new… and I hadn’t even seen the Pavilion at that point.

I spent the next 3 days at Lords, lucky enough that my first few days there included being fed and watered in the Media Centre – an odd place indeed, especially during a county match, which is the only way I have seen it on the inside, sort of fish bowl meets gentlemans club with a bit of the comedy store thrown in for good measure.

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Lords is quite large, as you can imagine, but you quickly get a feel for the layout and there are always smartly dressed stewards around to point you in the right direction should it be required. It is an odd combination of the original architecture with all manner of miscellaneous new bits bolted on, like someone took the stations & platforms from an old Hornby railway set and chucked them in the box with the Meccano. Walk round the back of the Mound stand and the brick archways are more reminiscent of an Abbey cloisters than anything else – possibly quite appropriate. Popping out at the Tavern stand and 70’s/80’s kitsch is all encompassing, but it almost goes unnoticed because there is the sign to the Clocktower, the clapperboard style tower that contains the scorers box and the clock. Sitting proudly atop this tower, Father Time himself [not, as many think ‘old Father Time’, have a read of THIS straight from the horses mouth], reliably offering advice on wind direction and a comforting presence to all, like the guardian angel of wood & willow the world over and certainly of this corner of London.

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Beyond this you reach the majesty of the Grace gates and the Tavern pub [the Tav], topped by the Thomas Lord Suite – again, TLS is not the most eye pleasing part of the ground, but it is of little consequence as the eye is drawn by those gates, known the world over and together with the Pavilion itself, probably symbolise Lords more than anything else. We are now very much into ‘members’ territory, Allen & Warner stands are down this end, acting as bookends to the monolith that is the MCC Pavilion, THE home of cricket, it’s laws, it’s members, it’s history… look carefully, you can probably see the glow of the aura that surrounds this building. Pitchside, it’s facade is a symphony of symmetry, spoilt only by a sliding sight screen that for my visits is nearly always off centre, a bum note.

From the rear, this symmetry is less noticable as it spreads across into the museum via the player changing rooms and offices and ‘stuff’, and becomes a neighbour of the Middlesex shop, which in turn sits cosying up to the Harris Gardens, where the ‘posh’ people drink champagne on warm days. Walking under here, you pass the main entrance to the Pavilion, always watched over by a pair of stewards in smart blazers [like all the Lords stewards in fairness] You glance down at your trainers and jeans and feel just ever so slightly under dressed and out of place, so scurry past before you lower the tone too much.

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Popping out the other side you come across what is probably the most peaceful place at Lords, the Coronation Gardens. Gently manicured lawns surrounded by benches. A place to sit and appreciate the passing world, enjoy your packed lunch, watch a couple of kids knock a tennis ball around with little cricket bats. There is something very serene about this little corner.

From here it is the long run under the main grandstand, a modern concoction of concrete and steel that is as close to ‘football ground’ as Lords can possibly get, although the friendly welcome at the bar under the stand has any resemblence quickly banished.

Finally you are back behind the Compton stand, which together with Edrich, flank the media centre. A pair of two tiered stands, that require their occupants to have a love of the English weather – the lower tiers have a venturi quality, pulling the wind in off the Nursery pitch and sending it howling down your neck even on a relatively balmy day. The upper tiers are completely open to the elements, rain or shine, you never forget your rain coat and your sunblock if you plan on sitting up there. They are popular though, especially in toward the Media pod, behind the bowlers arm y’see.

lords_001-4All sounds quite grand, not your average county ground at all. I have visited other grounds, like Kent and Essex and they are relatively small and intimate, Lords isn’t…and yet, it is. Since that first visit in 2009 I have been back many times, for both Middlesex and England matches, as a ticket paying great unwashed, as a Middlesex CCC member and even in a working capacity as a photographer for non-playing third party events and you know what, Lords is an amazing place.

It may be big in the overall scheme of English cricket grounds [probably quite ‘big’ in the world of cricket grounds], but it is still friendly & welcoming. This lass, born in a council house in the north of England, has drunk champagne in the Harris garden and not felt out of place. I have smiled at those doormen at the Pavilion doors as I walked in as well as been smiled at as I walked past them dressed down for sitting in the public stands. Staff have always been friendly and happy to chat, especially the older stewards who love to tell you their anecdotes. You walk into Lords and it wraps you in it’s familiarity, you can leave life’s worries at the gates and relax into it’s atmosphere. Some say Lords is full of ghosts of cricket past and maybe it is, but if so, they are friendly ghosts, very happy to have you share their home.

I remember the first time I went to a test match, 2012 against the West Indies and the ground was of course packed with people, with additional food and drink stalls and it was all very merry. I was initially quite taken aback at all these people at ‘my’ special place, forcing me to stay in the same seat all day and queue for a drink – but in truth, it matters not, because each time that happens, I know that my next visit will be peaceful. It will be back to county cricket with the die hards, the Middlesex supporters [and opposition] wandering around making the place feel occupied but not overly crowded. The Coronation gardens will be quiet, the bar staff will have time to not just smile a welcome, but ask me how I am enjoying play [or not, depending on how things are going for ‘the Middle’] and best of all, I can pick and choose where to sit for each session, whatever the weather. So I can relax and enjoy international cricket at Lords too, because ultimately it is still Lords, it still the place I love to be and I hope every other cricket fan that has been there feels even just a little bit the same.

Reading back, I am not sure I have done it justice, it requires more than my best effort in truth, but hopefully, you get the idea.

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No 35: Newlands

Perhaps there are fewer things in life better than being able to relax in the sun with a cool beer or other beverage of your choice.

In cricket’s case, the sport affords numerous opportunities to do exactly that. In addition, you can do this whilst in the vicinity of some grounds that can be considered simply beautiful.

Having considered “beautiful grounds” as a piece to contribute to this blog, it struck me that there are simply too many stunning backdrops & surroundings for the game of cricket to restrict ourselves to just one topic. (plus, 500 is some way off!)

Lord’s, New Road, the MCG, the scenery of New Zealand, the number of fantastic settings are too great for me to remember them all here.

My closest 1st class ground, the Riverside, affords a superb view of Lumley Castle, which was a lovely aesthetic addition to watching Ian Bell score a hundred last summer.

I’m sure there are some utterly picturesque or idiosyncratic club grounds that would qualify too.

My personal favourite is Newlands in Cape Town. Having enjoyed the opportunity to go there 3 times, it’s the type of ground that takes your breath away 

In January 2000, I was fresh off a plane, and straight to the 4th day of the test match, to watch Shaun Pollock and his mates wrap up the tail and consign England to an innings defeat before I really knew what was going on. 

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Having been allocated a seat with my back to Table Mountain and being somewhat sleep deprived after the flight, I wasn’t able to fully appreciate the full splendour of Newlands until some days later, when we returned to watch our recent club pro HD Ackerman (now one of Supersport’s commentary team in SA) play in a first class game.

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With there being fewer than 100 people in the ground for most of this game, we were able to fully explore the ground, the magnificent views from the executive boxes on the top floor of the main stand, the old-world style of the members’ bar in the pavilion, with its Castle lager sold at 50p per pint in the old-style pint glass with a handle.

But it is sitting in the ground in the sun with Table Mountain in full view and watching the cricketing spectacle unfold before that you affords the greatest pleasure. I could do it every day.

And I have been fortunate enough to return in both 2005 and 2009. Neither game resulted in success for England, but at Newlands it doesn’t seem to matter so much.

Cricketing heaven.

No 33: Charitable

Now I admit I hadn’t even thought of this one until now, sitting here, in the wee small hours [UK time] watching TV. It’s the 3rd day of the 2013/14 Sydney Ashes test, or as it’s otherwise known, the Pink test. The mighty SCG has turned into a sea of pink in support of the McGrath Cancer Foundation, a charity set up to by Australian bowler Glenn McGrath and his late wife Jane to help fund specialist breast cancer support nurses across Australia.

The SCG turns pink - picture courtesy of Amy Lofthouse @Amy_Cricket

The SCG turns pink – picture courtesy of Amy Lofthouse @Amy_Cricket

Now I am not suggesting for a minute that cricket and the people involved are somehow more altruistic than people involved in other sports, but in the few years that I have been involved in the sport, I have been very lucky to be involved at some level [usually a photographic one] with several charitable events. Players and fans alike have given of their time and money generously, inspite of a world recession, and I think it’s about time this was shouted about – hence I am declaring it one of our 500 reasons.

On a personal level I have been at events where Murali was raising money for his Foundation of Goodness, a couple of Lords Taverners events and even been along to help support those ‘rogues’ at Test Match Sofa do a 38 hour continuous commentary stint in aid of Red Nose Day.

Gladstone Small, Muttiah Muralidaran, Rob Key and Ronnie Irani raise laughs & money for the Foundation of Goodness

Add in such worthy causes I have picked up on from twitter such as Cricket Without Boundaries and The Broad Appeal amongst many, many others and of course the amount of events and cricket matches held to raise money and awareness for external charities and I can’t help but feel cricket has a very generous and caring nature. So to everyone that has taken part in, or donated to, such an event, I raise a glass of pink fizz to you. Cheers!!

No 30: Sledging

Well someone has to get the ball bowling on this one. Almost as old as cricket itself, the art of sledging has been refined over generations and varies from gentle ribbing to full on, in your face insults. Some people take quite a dim view of sledging, but for many it is almost an unwritten law of the game that must be indulged in.

Now I really want this post to be an ‘interactive’ post, would love to see your favourite sledges in the comments section underneath as there are hundreds of them from well known matches, but also your own from your local league matches too. So, for now, a few ‘historical’ favourites, but come on, lets get a list going.

Mark Waugh [Aus] & James Ormand [Eng]

[possibly paraphrased]

Ormand had just come out to bat and was greeted by Mark Waugh.
MW: ” Mate, what are you doing out here? There’s no way you’re good enough to play for England.”
JO: “Maybe not, but at least I’m the best player in my family.”

Merv Hughes [Aus] & Graham Gooch [Eng]

Merv Hughes was bowling a fast spell to England’s Graham Gooch, who was struggling to hit the ball with his bat. Hughes continued to dominate and said: “Would you like me to bowl a piano and see if you can play that”.

Shane Warne [Aus] & Daryll Cullinan [SA]

Cullinan was known to fall to Warne on a regular basis, so when they met again after a couple of years of not facing each other, Shane couldn’t resist a dig

He said to Cullinan: “I’ve been waiting two years for another chance at you”

Cullinan: “Looks like you spent it eating…”

You don’t even have to be playing cricket to indulge in some sledging, the Germans got involved during the 2013 Summer Ashes tour, aiming this tweet at the Australian cricket team

My personal favourite is quite a recent one and involves Jimmy Anderson [Eng] and Mitchell Johnson [Aus] – and with the joys of your tube….here it is


So come on, I know there are so many of these, lets be havin’ them!