Friday, 6 March 2015


Some interviews go smoothly, yet the end result might be bland. Others don't quite pan out so unproblematically, although perhaps the end result might be dynamite.

This chat I had with Mark Butcher definitely falls in the latter category, although not because Butch was hard work. Far from it. In fact, he is one of the easiest-going ex-cricketers I've spoken with. Which is exactly the reason the interview didn't turn into an unmediated disaster.

See, after speaking to him for about an hour, I realized that my dictaphone had switched off. Batteries had gone. I'd missed 15 minutes. Ordinarily, this would have been a manageable crisis. Here, it was a total disaster, since the period of his career we'd just been talking about was 1999 and 2000, when he was dropped from the England team, split up from his wife (the sister of Surrey and England teammate Alec Stewart), started drinking, was dropped to Surrey 2nds, asked his dad to reconstruct his game, fought his way back to England reckoning and was involved in Hansie Cronje's fixed game in Pretoria.

So, for a 100% quotes piece, that's quite a few dynamite passages disappeared into the forever.


There was no question of me trying to maintain a professional demeanour. I knew instantly that I'd lost all the juice. So, I told him I'd fucked up and asked whether he'd mind me typing up the passages from memory -- and some of them had great witticisms (either off-the-cuff or polished through repeated telling at after-dinner speeches and suchlike). He said it would be no trouble, and that I should bung them over.

Anyway, we spoke for another 40 minutes, after which I bade farewell and hurriedly spoke into my phone, recording as much detail as i could of the 'original' quotes. I then emailed them over and, like a dutiful subeditor, Butch polished them up nicely and fired them back the next day. Absolute legend.

Anyway, it is one of the interviews I'm most pleased with. Slow to get him warmed up, and I'm sure a couple of nuggets he held back for a book of some kind (including a little cheeky racism from the Saffers in 1998), but a really enjoyable experience. 

Mark Butcher: Gleanings

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