We need 34 runs to avoid the follow on. To the uninitiated this may seem a strange state of affairs. How can a game in which we appear to be suffering a real hammering at the hands of the opposition, be so riveting. No attempt is made here to explain the rules of cricket. Nor to explain the finess of the game. It is assumed that the reader is at once educated and sophisticated. Test match cricket is the ultimate combination of cerebral and physical sport. At once a team game and an individual contest.
26 now required, to avoid the follow on. Runs are coming off the bat together with the occasional bye. Every ball is an event. We are playing the old enemy. Australia. We won the first two tests and only need to draw this one to retain the Ashes. The draw is the thing. Although Australia won the toss and put on a big score in the first innings and we have struggled to match their score if we avoid the follow on the Australians will have to bat again. You will of course know that this means that the clock will tick down and when the clock ticks down time will be against the Australians. We will still need to put in a good performance in the second innings but the first objective will have been achieved.
As I write I can report that the follow on has indeed been avoided. A knowledgeable crowd shows its appreciation and our thoughts move on to how much we can narrow the gap.
In the early stage of our first innings the target score of 527 might have sounded a tall order but it’s all about the psychology of the game. With a positive approach we could have a score of a thousand runs in mind. That would have totally destroyed the Australians making what was their very good first innings score seem pathetic. It didn’t happen but the game is still alive. With two days left the fat lady isn’t even warming up yet. She may not even be in the country.
Fat ladies get around you know. Wherever their services are required. They work on a per event rate plus expenses. They also do charity gigs on a pro bono basis though as you might imagine their appearance at these events don’t come with nearly the same levels of excitement as in big events such as Ashes cricket matches.
I refer to fat ladies in the plural though I am not 100% confident that there is more than one of them. Circumstantial evidence supports the existence of more than one. When you think about it if there are two big sporting events taking place simultaneously how could she be there at the finish of them both? It would be too risky. I guess a pre-recorded video could work and would allow a single fat lady to earn royalties over and above her performance fees.
Fat ladies don’t just sing at the end of sporting events. Charity gala fundraisers spring to mind. Operas maybe. Probably. Not that I am trying to stereotype female opera singers. Oh no. The cricket continues. A couple more wickets have gone but we are still hanging on in there. 173 runs behind. A win for England is unlikely but a draw would be highly satisfactory considering the poor start to our first innings. A draw would ensure that we maintain the psychological advantage. The high ground.
As I write this section of the Third Law it does occur to me that what I am doing is counter to the principles of the Law. The cricket, happening as it does over five days, enforces a leisurely approach. I don’t know how many words I could put down in five days. I’m not going to find out because family life does not allow for five days sat in front of the TV or wireless just taking in the cricket and occasionally concocting the occasional sentence or two. In between balls, or overs, or during the adverts.
Some adverts are actually quite funny and worth watching. Others make me thing “I’ll make a specific point of not buying that product”. Shows how important it is to get yer advertising right. I can’t vouch for the smoothness of flow of writing done under test match cricket conditions. There’s not as much focus as when you’re sat in a room with no distractions.
Our first innings is now over. We trail by 159. The game is on. The pace is reassuringly slow. There is a scenario whereby I will have fallen asleep for a number of overs and woken up to find that very little has happened other than a few runs may have been scored, added to the Australian total.
Lunch is about to be served. This is good because we are coinciding our own lunch with the cricket. I am happy that lunch is just about due. Lunch is a very civilised meal if taken seriously. Family lunch around the table is especially good. The only slight problem when sitting a family around at table for lunch is that people keep asking for items to be passed down the table. The butter is a particular problem but not exclusively so. I don’t believe it is practicable to have more than one butter out. Two bowls of crisps are acceptable. Maybe even two salt and peppers though I must say I don’t use the salt and pepper much these days.
Two water jugs are definitely very useful if you have them. One should always make sure there are enough glasses out on the table for everyone before sitting down. There is nothing more annoying than having to get up to go to the kitchen again after you thought you had settled into position at the trough. I’m sure that Mrs Beeton would have something to say about this. Probably even have a checklist which is a bit over the top in my view. She may well also have had a maid in attendance to sort it all out.
Lunch over, the assembled masses drift off. Those at the ground, back to their seats. Those relying on the TV for their coverage, back to the lounge. If you are using the wireless for your coverage then you may move out into the garden where a deckchair may await, under an umbrella perhaps.
As it happens it isn’t umbrella weather today. Actually that’s not true. Practically everyone at the ground will have one with them because rain is forecast. One is unlikely to sit out in one’s garden under an umbrella if it is raining. More likely to move onto the settee and drift off listening to some dulcet coverage.
You may not have gathered from any of my particular commentary that this particular bit of the Third Law began on one day, the fourth day of the test match, and is now continuing on the fifth or final day. The Australians declared overnight having had the end of their innings curtailed by bad light and rain stop play.
The wickets have been falling. Cook and Trott, for what it’s worth and for historical accuracy. Before play began this morning I moseyed into town to get a haircut. Unfortunately the barbers was shut so I continued down the street and found myself in a second hand book shop whereupon I purchased “The Authorised History of MI5” and “Peel Two”, a short history of Peel. This is one of three volumes and I am pretty sure that I already have one of the books from a previous visit. Unfortunately I can’t remember which one but I’m thinking the third so I should be ok. Fingers crossed eh?
The cricket continues. They never mention pigeons on the television commentary. Nor double decker busses. I guess they think you assume that it being an audio-visual medium you can see said items for yourself. I don’t think it does any harm to mention them. Adds to the atmosphere. Enriches it. I’m not sure that chocolate cakes get mentioned either. Pigeons, busses and chocolate cakes are particularly popular items on the radio.
The chocolate cakes in particular are occupational hazards of being a radio cricket commentator, or should that be cricket commentator for radio? It matters not. Many cakes are sent in to the commentary box, largely I’m sure in the hope of getting a mention. However one shouldn’t overlook the possibility that the bakers of the cake, or at least the senders, are eager to continue the tradition. It isn’t just the cakes. There is lunch, tea and the dinners that they all seem to have in the evenings. Curries and Italian meals seem to be popular choices amongst the commentating classes.
This I can understand. I like em meself. A good mixed balti or a lasagne does the job after a day watching cricket. Lager with the curry or red wine with the pasta. Yup.
The score is slowly starting to tick over. However Pietersen has just been given out. The review showed no evidence that he had hit it. Except perhaps a slight noise on the snickometer. Hmm. That’s cricket Jim.
Our lunch is over and we are waiting for the cricket to restart, recommence, rebegin. Yaknowworramean. There is too much going on around here. Hoover, kids, TV, others talking. I’m outahere.
3rd Law Part 55 here
3rd Law Part 57 here