On the field
A veritable feast of cricket! I think there was pretty much something going on every single day (and most mornings), so I got into a nice little routine of working in the living room in the morning whilst a match was on and then heading upstairs to my desk in the afternoon. A lot of my focus was on Australia; the second half of their Test series against India took up the first couple of weeks (even forcing an emergency Tailenders pod), and I continued my occasional early starts & scoring sessions on leave days & weekends. Elsewhere in Australia was the Big Bash, by far my favourite domestic T20 league in the world – don’t @ me. As I’m still re-familiarising myself with the cricketing world it was invaluable to study this league closely, both for up & coming Australian players and the range of overseas players the teams had attracted; the innovations for BBL10 grew on me – I think the power surge & Bash Boost could have benefits elsewhere, though I don’t think the X-factor substitutions really worked out.
The other major series was England in Sri Lanka; I would’ve liked to have seen one more Test, and some one-day matches (in an ideal world), though what we got was an enjoyable pair of matches and pretty decent remote coverage via Sky Sports. It was so good to see Jack Leach back in the side alongside Dom Bess, as well as Joe Root in full flow – and his bouts of cramp reminded Athers of an absolutely hilarious incident involving Mark Richardson a few years back. The most hilarious thing ended up being the superlative Moose Cup: there’s no cricketing trophy quite like it.
My cricket snacks, if you will, were the ODI series between Afghanistan & Ireland, the first Test between Pakistan & South Africa (the long-awaited return of Test cricket to Pakistan), and smatterings of the Abu Dhabi T10 league. I couldn’t quite get my head around the latter (especially as the fielding was universally dire), though getting to see some Somerset players in action was a good bonus – as was the presence of a typically exuberant Danny Morrison on comms.
On the page
Michael Clarke – My Story ⭐️⭐️⭐️
One of my favourite players from back in my cricket heyday (despite being Australian), when I discovered that he had an autobiography I decided that I really should give it a go – I ended up getting the audiobook version. It’s not the best cricket autobiography ever; though he was a remarkable player, it didn’t always feel like a particularly remarkable story to tell. It’s not helped by the fact that it jumps back & forth in time, overlapping events in a way that made me wonder if it had been a copy & paste job – plus there was definitely a chip on his shoulder that left a bitter taste.
On the box
The Test (Amazon Prime) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
This was a really interesting one. You do wonder with something like this whether you are actually seeing people’s true reactions (though some obviously were – like the numerous incidents of frustrated batsmen getting out), but either way it’s a great insight. I particularly enjoyed the introduction to Adam Zampa’s coffee bar, as well as re-living the Ashes clashes at Lord’s (Archer v. Smith) and Headingley in 2019. I’m rather hoping for another series at some point, either following Australia or perhaps an Asian side.
I was rather gutted that there was no UK coverage of the Bangladesh v. West Indies ODI series, as I always love to watch the Tigers and they executed a pretty comprehensive series victory. In podcast news, I’ve continued to catch up on Tailenders (I only have a few more ‘old’ ones to listen to now) and also finally got my hands on a #tailendersoftheworlduniteandtakeover t-shirt – plus Middle Please, Umpire finished its first series in style with some fascinating interviews (Merv Hughes was possibly my favourite).
Featured image credit: Danny Reuben