A few weeks back I posted a list of cricket-related gifts to help unimaginative readers deal with the forthcoming problem that is forever Christmas. The forthcoming has mutated into the bygone, and now it is time for a reflective synopsis on how the friends of the Wrong’Un did this year.
Firstly I’d like to mention that this is the first year in about seven that I have not received the annual Wisden Almanack. Now I’m not someone who normally allows small things to ruin my Christmas, but needless to say this was QUITE the oversight on every I know’s behalf. I wouldn’t compare it to the turkey not arriving or anything like that…I’d compare it to the turkey arriving, bursting out the oven, destroying a pillow and re-feathering itself, before hunting down each and every member of the human race until I am left alone in my turkey zombie apocalypse cave (location = secret) with just Geoffrey Boycott, Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar – surely the 3 most likely men on Earth equipped with the tools to deal with such an occasion. Michael ‘Whispering Death’ Holding would have been there too, but Geoffrey booted him out of the tent (ala Captain Scott) after a disagreement over the last tin of beans. Holding wanted to smoke them, naturally, whereas Boycott had a black pudding he wanted washing down.
Anyway, I’m not one to digress. I was disappointed. The world pretty much ended. But like Boycs, I’ve moved on. So I didn’t get the Almanack. What did I get?
How about Gift Recommendation 2 – Tickets! Yup, come August, I’ll be heading to the Rose Bowl for an International T20 game England vs Australia, as well as getting a day’s Test tickets for the briefer tour of New Zealand. A fantastic pair of gifts, genuinely pleased as punch/couldn’t ask for more/huzzah central! The downside is, I’m probably going with my mum – we had a mutual arrangement to do it. Erm, what can I say – I’m normally quite cool. Don’t judge me…I’M COOL!
Apart from those, the only cricket related gift was a bit more of a surprise, and a pleasant one at that. My other half got me the DVD ‘Out of the Ashes’, which follows the rise of cricket in Afghanistan; against a backdrop of war and poverty the film traces the extraordinary journey of a team of young Afghan men as they chase a seemingly impossible dream of trying to qualify for the World Cup.
What I really thought was exceptional about the film was the glimpses inside life in Afghanistan; far too often we assume it is our soldiers fighting a hostile local population and forget that the vast majority of people in the country just want to be able to pop to the shops and get some food, relax with their families, and generally just be safe. The entire backdrop and scenery showed just how brutally arid a place it is, and for cricket to rise to prominence there really is an amazing tale. Fair play in particular to the passion brought to cricket by the coach. I almost shed a tear at one stage too, if I was any less of a man than I am I’d maybe have shed a couple. I’d rate it on a par with the excellent ‘Fire in Babylon’. A very inspirational film. Even if you’re not a cricket fan (in which case fair play for getting to the end of this article) – Get it!