You have no idea how good I was. Yes, yes, sitting on my settee watching these well paid television idols making a complete hash of the Indian series, it is easy to forget. Oh yes! I can tell when the umpire gets it wrong on TV. My mind goes arrow straight and sharp to the certain ball flight, how smart am I?
It is all true except in some small details. I do have an idea how good I was, and I wasn’t. In fact, I was a hopeless cricketer whose only talent was shouting appeals from long on, which, more or less, summed up my vulgar knowledge of the game.
Since those long off days, (forgive the pun) I have graduated to days out, from Lords to the Rec Antigua, from Sophia Gardens, Cardiff to the Wanderers Johannesburg, I have shifted gallons of lovely beer and snook a bit of shut eye, I have even left early and missed a collapse or two. But now at eighty I am in my prime, I can prattle on with the best of them.
I miss John Arlott and Brian Johnson, to name but two, I find some of the present-day smartie-arses a bit much to take. After all, what do they know? Don’t answer that, it is just that they seem to make a meal of even the slightest move, a twitch here, a dart there, a tweak and a turn, and excitement knows no bounds.
My decisions are much simpler, when to stagger to the kitchen either to make tea or slip an early whiskey into play. Then and only then, do I get down to team picking for the next match. Astonishingly, my choices are seldom adhered to, I know not why. These selectors clearly have no idea.
My emails, (yes, I am technically brilliant for my age) contain crisp messages which are received with secret disdain by those who are, by necessity, younger.
As I edge to my journey up the chimney, cricket becomes one of my best friends. They program five days from nine till four and I am delighted that the pink ball promises introspective excellence. One and a half days simply will not do. Don’t they know they are depriving a legion of old dogs of the peaceful fullness of otherwise empty days?
I can watch and dream, such wondrous promise that my hapless cricketing persona has been elevated to the pantheon of greatness.
Cummon’ lads, more than two days please.