On the field
Now we’re talking! Plenty to be going on with this month, as the weather largely behaved and international & domestic fixtures came thick & fast. The first big event was England’s mini-series against New Zealand; it’s always a shame when there are only two Tests, but I certainly made the most of them (even if England largely didn’t!). This was all part of the lead-in to the World Test Championship final – understandably not being held at Lord’s, in a bid to keep things as COVID-secure as possible, but I might’ve chosen Old Trafford over the Aegeas Bowl myself… What was more frustrating than the rain was the inevitable comments from fans in India who don’t understand the concept of weather; the UK has a maritime climate, it’s bound to be unpredictable – plus there’s, y’know, climate change involved as well. Needless to say, Southampton had the last laugh, as the one reserve day set aside to make up for lost overs was more than enough for New Zealand to claim the sceptre! Simon Doull’s line that “sometimes, just sometimes, nice guys do finish first” was a really touching tribute to a team that neutrals across the world were undoubtedly rooting for.
I also started to get stuck into the Vitality Blast, taking advantage of Somerset’s superior livestream where I could, as well as taking in snippets of the England vs. India multi-format women’s series (annoyingly it clashed a lot with other plans), and the tiniest amount of the rescheduled PSL. It was nice to see Sri Lanka back in England for some white ball cricket, after the short Test stint over there in the winter – unfortunately for them it all went the same way in this format too…
On the page
Chris Gayle – Six Machine ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
What more could you expect from the Universe Boss, Chris Gayle? I must admit, before listening to this audiobook I didn’t really know anything about his upbringing or how he got into the game – and he gets plenty personal in this autobiography! It’s good to hear his anger & passion for the game come through, as he has been considered something of a T20 mercenary by certain quarters for a while now; even if he didn’t make it clear that he loves the game itself, you couldn’t blame the boy from Rollington getting the taste for earning big bucks in quick time. Some sections (usually at the beginning/end of chapters) can be a little repetitive, but overall it’s worth a read – for his mention of scrumpy alone!
On the box
Fire in Babylon (Sky Documentaries) ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Cricket history is something that I always feel so far behind on, even two decades into my love for the game. I’ve been meaning to watch this documentary for a while, but after the events of last summer and an extraordinary piece of broadcasting from Michael Holding (& Ebony Rainford-Brent) pushed me to get round to it this year. It’s a really enlightening film, and especially useful for those of us who weren’t around at the time and want to know more – not just about the matches contested, but about the whole culture of West Indies cricket, and the challenges & abuse the players had to overcome. I bought the book off the back of watching it, so I look forward to digging a bit deeper with that.
As well as (finally) continuing with Zero Ducks Given, I had some more cricket to watch! First I had to put up with watching rain all day (though I was grateful that my lovely Edrich Stand seat was undercover and allowed me to do this), but then I got my reward the next day with a hastily bought ticket to day 4 of the New Zealand match – well, it was to make up for not being able to go to my original booking of day 1, made prior to government announcements about restrictions being lifted. I got all emotional as Jerusalem blasted out around the ground, but was quickly brought back down to earth when Joe Root got out on the first ball of the day! At least later on I saw my first ever Lord’s century when Rory Burns nudged his way over the line. It was even worth the hideous bus trek home.
Oh, and I finally managed to get some scoring in! Once the WTC final started I decided to make the most of it, scoring the morning session and everything up until their break for bad light. It felt good to be back! So good, in fact, that I did my first ever score-along to a Vitality Blast game a week or so later; county cricket is punishingly fast. For the first time I got lost & couldn’t catch up straightaway, but did manage to pick things up a couple of overs later – thankfully Somerset made it easy in the second innings by not losing any wickets, beating Kent with ease.
Featured image credit: Gareth Copley-ICC/ICC via Getty Images