Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michael Vaughan and the booze go boozing with teen-agers

In his recent autobiography, Michael Vaughan has admitted that, during the 2005 Ashes celebrations, the entire England team rocked up to 10 Downing Street and were disappointed by what they saw.

They immediately identified the key problem: no booze.

The infamous all-night bender, followed by tipsy open-topped bus fiesta had rather given the impression that drink was not wanting. But, after stumbling up the red carpet and relieving themselves in the Prime Minister’s garden, the team was unimpressed by the offerings.

In fact, there was nothing. Vaughan stated,

“I demand to have some booze!”

The nectar of the gods was duly provided. The captain of England and, supposed Yorkshire lad, after tasting a sample politely pointed out that it was “lukewarm” and “undrinkable”.

At this point, an unexpected alliance was forged between the pissed England cricket team, and the most notorious political pisshead: Tony Blair’s son Euan.

Don’t worry if you don’t know who is, most of his friends forgot him too. At the age of 16, he was found abandoned in Leicester Square plastered out of his little pasty head on alco-tiddlers.

But now, in lukewarm Downing Steet, it was at this moment of crisis that Euan’s lifetime of self-indulgence and waste came to the fore. He knew what to do. He immediately raided his dad’s “private” collection of wines and beers and gave it to a load of older boys taht he barely knew. The cricketers, being decent, honest men, accepted the boys's illicit booze.

To be honest, it’s a teenagers dream: getting pissed with the England cricket team, whilst your dad is out. I’m sure most of us would plump for that over being Ian Bell.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

How to let Jonny Foreigner in

Over my long sabbatical, I have been considering how a civilised society should treat Kevin Pietersen. In the olden days, he would have been flayed and broken by a humiliating ordeal of public punishments. But sadly, we are far removed from these genteel and enlightened times.

Our problem isn’t his flashy, perma-tanned smugness – qualities that deeply rile the vast mass of under-achieving, poorly co-ordinated, socially inept English males. No. The main issue with Pietersen is that he exists at all.

Along with food and the relative merits of women, sport is the last legitimate home of petty tribalism. We want our team to beat your team to affirm our innate superiority over you. If your team beats our team, is only due to the limited structuring of your domestic game, reducing the number of matches, so, it doesn’t really tell us anything about whose better. In fact, we probably still better people than you, because we are so hamstrung by incompetent administrators.

These sorts of unfounded, baseless and generally wrong arguments, as fun as they are, are increasingly difficult to enjoy enthusiastic expression; “your” team is mostly constituted by “them” – the foreign, the alien, and the strange. We now find ourselves support a squad of Saffers.

Long ago, the British domestic football scene went down this route. Where it led them, I am unsure, but I am certain that some of the joy has been lost from watching your chums from down ‘pit doing their best against the mysterious freaks from yonder valley.

Then, fast-footed wee Jimmy is replaced by Finn Mürdermann from East Germany, who flattens the opposition with his greater knowledge of aerial bombardments. Wee Jimmy is left crushed, unemployed and slumps to an inevitable drug-induced demise.

It’s arguable that this adds to the overall standard of the game, improving the quality for the spectators, but where’s the heart? Where can fans see themselves in their heroes?

This is how I feel about the England cricket team. Foreigners have been gnawing away at our hearts in order to earn the ECB more money, using a naturalisation mechanism that is as divorced from the sporting world as is Kim Jong Il is from reality.

So, here’s AYALAC’s new system:

1. Scrap the four year qualification rule. Adopting a new nationality is not the equivalent as re-locating. I would include a provision that would allow people to qualify for the England cricket team, if they moved to the UK and acquired British citizenship for non-cricketing reasons. At the moment, the system has a loophole the size of a Giles Clarke-sized noose, and cricketers are making a mockery of the system by exploiting it.

2. If you want to play for England, become English. Essentially, this means becoming rubbish at everything except moaning. Kevin Pietersen has shown great promise in this area.

3. No Kevin Pietersens.