Fed up with hearing about and thinking about spot fixing. Not enthused by five ODIs against Pakistan. Only mildly amused by Dimi Mascarenhas calling Geoff Miller a knob on Twitter. Slightly more amused by Geoff Miller continuing to pretend he doesn't know what 'this twitter' is. In need of something to remind me of what the game is really all about.
Found it in this post from Jrod at Mountain Chickens, a blog about an Australian being schooled in the arts of the game in the land of its birth. He was playing a match against a bunch of accountants. One of them started hitting Jrod even further than usual:
'In this game we had an injured batsman come out. He played a sweep shot early on that just seemed so effortless as it went to the rope, but the noise was amazing. Two balls later he hit a cover drive even harder, and that is when the mumurs started.
"He is using Andrew Strauss's bat"
"His mate plays Middlesex 2s"
"That is a proper Test bat".
It was being spoken about as if it were Excalibur.
Next the guy hit me over my head and into some nearby paddock, and this was no longer a cricket bat, this was now a myth.'
I love this sort of rumour. It plays in so many ways. On the mortal plane, it asks whether such a thing as a 'proper Test bat' exists. On the metaphysical plane, it wonders whether a bit of hand-carved wood can be something more, something transformative.
On the mortal question, well there probably is such a thing, especially now. Batmakers obviously set aside the very best clefts of willow for their pros. And most pros seem far less wedded to one or two particular bats. Thus they can be pressed less, shortening their lifespan but heightening the trampolining effect of their power.
As for the magic of a bat, well who knows? I'll never forget the bat that never was, a bat I found in a shop but didn't have the money to buy. It was a Stuart Surridge jumbo, short-handled, a beast of a thing that picked up like it was an extension of my hands. I've never felt anything like it before or since. I'd have loved to have batted with it just once.
It's great too how rumours can spread, even in the course of a game. I remember playing in one where their quick bowler was said to have 'opened the bowling for Wales'. The other classic is having a player who is related to a pro. That one goes around at least once a season.
These things are what the game is about, and they make it what it is. Good work Jrod. Just keep telling yourself it was the bat... [and happy birthday too, to the Balls, in all of its wickedness...]