Wednesday, 29 April 2015


My second regular Cordon blog for ESPNcricinfo was as much about what I left out as what went in. What goes on tour stays on tour, they say. Perhaps.

Either way, publication of this piece has put me back in touch with three of the 16-strong touring party, and in the thread below several dusty and long-forgotten memories were pulled from the attic: (1) a player who managed to defecate while unconscious, stinking out the whole condominium, although not enough to rouse one of his roommates; (2) getting hustled when buying the ingredients for jazz cigarettes, the first batch we were sold being kosher, the second, from the same guy, later seen with a machete tucked into his basketball socks, probably better served to improve a pasta sauce; (3) a player buying the ingredients to cook a spaghetti bolognese in order to win the heart of an ebony princess plucked from the dancefloor of a nightclub; (4) said player not quite making it to the end of an intimate encounter before having to run through the streets of Bridgetown to catch a minibus back to the condos to pick up luggage and head to the airport; (5) a player downing a jar of local hot peper sauce, claiming it was "muppet" and "Haagen-Dasz"; (6) the many, many vodka-pineapples and rum punches drunk on the refined cultural experience that was the Jolly Roger cruise ship; (7) an inebriated player standing on the foot-rest of a bar stool and toppling Del-Boy-like flat on his face; (8) meeting ex-Windies and Essex all-rounder, the late Keith Boyce, and hearing him predict the decline of the then still dominant team; (9) getting into the local vibe by playing saucepans at the West Indies versus Australia Test match, the first session of which John Woodcock of The Times said was the best he'd seen in 60 years of watching cricket; (10) the tour anthem, the ubiquitous 'Hot Stepper' by Ini Kamozi.

Ah, good times. I'll never return as a youngster, but I will return for cricket one day. What goes on tour gets recycled as a blog about a blog, right?  

Once upon a Caribbean Cricket Holiday 


Almost twenty-six thousand social media shares 26,000! For a yarn about North Staffordshire league cricket!

Alright, it was about Shahid Afridi's half-season playing for Leek (and Little Stoke), but still, that's a lot of people to be introduced to Richard Harvey, David Edwards, 'Tracker' Johnson and others that helped put the story together.

It's a shame I couldn't include comments from Dave Fairbanks, Brian Mellor, Pete Wilshaw and a few others, or that more stories emerged (from Rob Haydon and Adrian Butters) after publication.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable piece to write (finally), and, judging by the reaction and yes, I'm aware that Afridi is probably second only to Sachin in the list of most venerated cricketers these last couple of decades an enjoyable one to read.

Oh, and if you want to see the skit from Bo Selecta! that I imitated when greeting Afridi to the crease (and the editors at cricinfo thought it best to exclude), here it is.

Staffordshire's Summer of Afridi



At the top, a shambolic World Cup campaign and the ongoing stink around Kevin Pietersen; at the bottom, falling participation levels in recreational cricket; in the middle, a county system that appears increasingly unfit for purpose with each year. Can English cricket regenerate itself, or is this the coming of twilight for the summer sport?

Here's a debut piece for the new Vice Sports UK:

English Cricket's Crumbling Pyramid