On the field
This was a bit of a barren month, as far as cricket was concerned. Yes, there was plenty going on around the world (and even in England, when the weather behaved itself), but perhaps the disappointment of the IPL being cut off snapped me out of it for a while. I was just gearing up to do a scoring session over the bank holiday weekend, as I hadn’t done one since the end of March, and then the IPL was snatched away as COVID cases started to really soar. It was a surprise they managed to go on as long as they did, I suppose; hopefully it brought India some much-needed joy while it was around – I do wonder why they didn’t consider planning a more compact version just for 2021, rather than continuing with the bloated template they’ve set themselves. It was just over halfway through when it was officially postponed, so had they done half the games it might have been completed by the first week of May.
I did begin to peruse the County Championship, and caught the odd game that was hastily added to Sky’s schedule when the IPL went down, but then the rains came. It literally pours.
On the page
Ben Stokes – On Fire ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
What better way to distract myself from the terrible weather and lack of cricket than re-living the highlights from the year that hooked me back into the sport? 2019 was an incredible vintage, and this book is a good way of getting to grips with it as Ben Stokes was pretty much at the heart of everything! Whether it was the World Cup Final or a crucial day’s play in the Ashes, he was there not only to witness it but to get the job done. It’s not the height of analysis or particular depth, but it does give you an insight into Stokes’ mindset and definitely captures the emotions of the 14 July & 25 August.
On the box
Fibber in the Heat (Amazon Prime) ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I went to see this show at the Brewhouse in Taunton back in 2011, so was pleasantly surprised to find that it had been captured on film and was available with my Prime Video membership. It’s a really fun story of Miles Jupp’s adventures in India, attempting to become a cricket journalist with very few contacts, no equipment, and not a lot of an idea of what he should actually be doing. He weaves the tale very well, and his enthusiasm for cricket shines through every step of the way – even when it seems as though there’s no hope. Part of the reason I connected to his story in the first place is because I went through the same thought process of ‘I love cricket – how could I get a job that allows me to watch it for free?’; the only difference being I was about to go to university when I started having those deliberations, so I could theoretically have worked out a way of doing it by following a slightly more recognised path. It’s really enjoyable and well worth an hour or so of your time.
Fanfare please… I’m finally, FINALLY up-to-date with Tailenders! Had I not got myself neck-deep with podcasts I might have finished it sooner, but it’s still only taken 10 months (I think it might be less, actually) so I count that as a proper win. I also did a slightly less epic catch-up of Middle Please, Umpire in time for the final episode of the series – what a collection of interviewees they’ve managed!
Probably the biggest news of all, however, is that I actually went to a real-life cricket match and saw it with my two real (very short-sighted) eyes! Who would have thought that day 1 of Surrey vs. Gloucestershire could bring me such joy? 673 days after my last game (day 1 of England vs. Ireland at Lord’s), and I was back. Amazing to cheer on Hashim Amla to a well-deserved century, which also elicited my first standing ovation of 2021 (take that, theatre!).
Featured image credit: BCCI