Sunday, 8 August 2010

Enter the [fat] dragon

Real life rather rudely intruded on this week's noble ambition of lying around watching cricket, but the Surrey-Glamorgan pro-40 do at the Oval should not pass without comment. The bald reality of the result on the scorecard, Surrey win by 39 runs [d/l method], is a bit like describing Moby-Dick as a book about a bloke chasing a whale. It's true, but there's a little bit more to it than that.

Like Ahab, Glamorgan were pursuing something massive in dodgy weather - 386 from 38, which was D/L-ed 'down' to 227 from 20. Enter the dragon, Mark Cosgrove, floating across the floodlit green in Glamorgan's fire-engine red kit, an item of fashion that on the more slender fellow looks like something Culture Club might have worn on Top Of The Pops, but stretched across the mighty Cossie frame resembles a top-notch darts star approaching the oche.

Underneath his helmet, Cosgrove also has the look of a heavier Barry Richards - it's something to do with the toothy smirk and fuzz of hair - and he carries with him the same sense of the possible. He thrashed a gloriously defiant 88 from 55 in a dead-loss of a chase, but by god there was something magnificent about it, too. His eye is extraordinary. Many times he backed away to leg, and if the ball didn't quite land in the slot, he simply dropped the bat on it with the same insouciance as a golfer tapping in a putt one-handed. When he swung and connected, the ball departed the arena with sonic force. No-one has bat-speed like Cossie's.

Everything he does is set against the backdrop of his size. The commentators have a sob in their voice as they describe his travails with the ACB. 'If only' is the default position on his career. Yet there is an alternative view. Cosgrove is actually keeping cricket democratic. He could buckle down to the protein shake and push-up routine if he really wanted to, but he doesn't. Instead, he's a maverick figure, a lone sail on the horizon, a big man who knows that, in the end, it's just a game so why not enjoy it as you want to?

It makes him more human and more watchable. He's one of cricket's great archetypes and I'd bet that more kids will pick up a bat through seeing him than will through watching Marcus North.


Wes playforcountrynotforself said...

Very, very good one.

Hayley said...


I work with the Barmy Army and follow your blog. Another great bit of writing. For all those who are heading out to Australia for the Ashes make sure you get your tickets for The Barmy Army Xmas and New Years Eve Parties – Get your tickets quick as they are selling out fast