As I get older, as I watch more and more cricket – well, more and more cricket and more and more rugby union, for these are the sports which dominate my consciousness during many of my waking hours – I become increasingly aware of, and fascinated by, the nature of the journey (this is the type of expression which people employ to describe their progress through reality television programmes, but…

July 29, 2017

When the Eye has Gone

The retired sportsman, missing the acclaim of his career, is a familiar trope in sporting literature. It is true of those who made it, and it is true of those who did not. I could have been a contender. In the case of Colin Milburn, there was no ‘could have been’. He was very much a contender, and then some. Although my memory of cricket and cricketers increasingly, and somewhat…

November 6, 2016

Living in the Age of Root

The Nevil Road ground, in the tired northern suburbs of Bristol, was never anyone’s idea of one of the world’s great cricket theatres. It’s been smartened up a bit recently, but back in the late nineties when it began to host one-day internationals, it was a prisoner of its own featurelessness. Crammed between rows of terraced houses and a Victorian orphanage, when there wasn’t much of a crowd in –…

October 20, 2016

Taunton, 22nd September 2016

It starts at the railway station. This has seen many things since the trains came to the south-west in the nineteenth century, but in the era of four day County Championship cricket it has seen nothing like this. Play starts early in September, so people’s natural rhythms are disrupted. Earlier trains have to be caught, bags have to be packed more hurriedly, food and drink have to be procured. Getting…

September 25, 2016

Thousands of Runs Unscored (17th April 2016)

I’ve been writing here for a full ten years now. I’ve seen and commented on a few things in that time, but nothing, nothing at all, has moved me as much as the story that has unfolded around James Taylor over the last few months. The humour, maturity, perspective and dignity with which he has dealt with something which would have shattered a lesser man, has been a remarkable thing…

July 2, 2016

Coming Home (2nd February 2014)

This piece was the product of thinking about what Alastair Cook must have felt like, both during England’s doomed 2013-14 tour of Australia, and after returning home. You can never really know, of course, but you can make a judgement based on what you’ve seen and how you think you would feel. You would feel grim, and it would take you a long time to recover from the experience. It…

July 1, 2016

A Day at the Cricket (12th September 2013)

As I mention in the original intro below, this, a distillation of personal memories from the last day of the 2005 Ashes, was written on the eighth anniversary of the day. I can’t pretend that some of the style doesn’t owe a nod or several to Christian Ryan, but I feel it adds up to a pretty accurate representation of the way I experienced the day, and what I felt….

June 30, 2016

Stranger to Failure (24th July 2013)

This was written after Joe Root made 180, opening, for England against Australia at Lord’s in 2013. It was obvious, even then (in fact it was obvious from about ten minutes into his debut Test innings) that he was an outstanding player. He was so impressive in all the usual ways – in the skill of his batting, but also the lightness and charm of his demeanour – that I…

June 30, 2016

Standing Out (29th August 2012)

It’s difficult to convey just how good the century which Kevin Pietersen made for Surrey against Somerset at Taunton, at the end of August 2012, was. He’d been dropped from the England side after the controversy over him sending text messages to South African players, and he was playing at a level below he should have been. The result was just about the greatest example of easy dominance (with the…

June 28, 2016

Runs and Trust (8th January 2012)

A piece about Michael Clarke, from early 2012. There was a time when everyone had an opinion about Clarke, many of which didn’t seem to make much sense to me. My opinion was that he was a bloody classic batsman. Michael Clarke could always bat. He could bat when he came to England with the Australian Under-19 side in 1999. He could bat when he made his Test debut in…

June 26, 2016