Born in the 1980s, a lot of my “growing up” memories were formed as a child in the 1990s. It was when I got into cricket, and what a decade it was for the game!
From the decline of that great West Indian side, to the emergence of that great Australian side, to the batch of genuinely excellent quicks floating around the international circuit like the glamorous Wasim/Waqar, the fiery Donald/Pollock, Curtley and Courtney, the ominous Glenn McGrath, and even the likes of India and the Zimbabweans had either Srinath or Streak.
Even looking back, I’m not sure how to place England’s Gus Fraser, Goughie, Big Devon et al among that lot. I suspect they’d be some way behind, akin to reluctantly-invited work colleague huddled together getting pissed at the back of a wedding, watching the main players of the day go about their stuff: wholly irrelevant in the big picture, but certainly capable of being mildly interesting if approached.
I’d go into the batsmen of the era too, but it would start and end with Brian Charles Lara.
*gives everyone a moment to think about BCL*
Anyway, the memory which provoked this piece (and my blog posts genuinely have to be provoked these days) wasn’t really much to do with cricket. Well it was, and it wasn’t. Needless to say it was frowned upon by those running the game, and there was even a hint of racial bias to it – as a bit of a ‘foreign problem’.
Regardless, it captured the imagination of this scrawny English kid. It seemed bizarre then, and even more bizarre now. These “disgraceful scenes” were the backdrop of “a sad day for English cricket”:
You think cricket has problems these days with mere match-fixing, financial inequalities permanently ingrained by the “Big Three”, texts being sent to opponents, and a god-awful balance to an England side not suited to the format in the slightest. Just imagine all this…PLUS a mad scrum of fans trying to grab a souvenir stump – usually occurring within one of England’s more provincial, “northern” towns. Or if you don’t want to imagine it, just remember it instead. Cos it happened.
This Daily Heil article at the time sums up the prevailing mood at the time.
“If a player lashed out at one with his bat or a fist he would probably be fined his match fee, possibly be arraigned in court and almost certainly be sued for compensation, now the favourite word in the English language.”
The author, Ian Wooldridge, even went on to say:
“What does concern me, since we now have several Indian and Pakistani families living in Britain, is how the Old Trafford match will pan out. A rival newspaper suggested yesterday that it should be transferred to the small Amsterdam ground in Holland where South Africa played Kenya last week. Personally I would favour the Falkland Islands.”
Which is what I mean regarding the semi-racist, “colonial” attitude regarding the horrific terrorism going on at the time: those young chaps going after the stumps. I’d like to say the attitude has faded since, but given the angle put out there on the Jadeja/Anderson incident this summer, I’m not so sure…
Waqar Younis obliquely stated: “We have got to do something about security”. Smart man, Waqar. Good yorkers, and this proverbial delivery would have crushed, well…a proverbial toe.