I Don’t Like Cricket, I Hate It – the new England Test captain edition

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A semi-regular feature in which we ask Prince Prefab about cricket – even though he hates cricket. We are in bold. Prince Prefab is not.

Joe Root said he was ‘humbled’ to be named England Test captain. We vaguely remember you moaning about people’s use of this word. It basically means to be made to feel less proud, doesn’t it? In which case this is surely the exact wrong word to use in this context.

Yes, lots of people insist they are ‘humbled’ when something really good happens to them at the moment. And I think you are right about humble meaning sort of less proud, or workaday or very ordinary or something like that. The phrase that springs to mind is ‘a humble abode’.

And in sporting terms if you’ve been ‘humbled’ at something you’ve been embarrassed at it haven’t you? ‘The Premiership team were humbled by the non-league team when they lost three nil’ – that type of thing.

Is humility even a quality that one can assign to oneself?

I don’t think you can describe yourself as humble because that’s the opposite of what a humble person would do. The act of saying ‘I am humble’ isn’t humble. A humble person wouldn’t be so forthright as to describe themself as humble, would they? It’s for others to decide.

But, having said all that, I try not to be a colossal idiot and shout at the internet about it too much because we know what he means. He means he’s grateful, pleased and that it’s an important job and he takes it seriously – that sort of thing. And that’s nice. And nobody wants to be the person who is always correcting everyone’s grammar, do they? Apart from you and look where that’s got you.

We said on Twitter that what people are trying to say when they say that they’re humbled is: “I’m still normal despite this. In fact I’m going to redouble my humility to counteract my inarguable greatness.”

Yeah, in a way they are sorting of saying they are even greater than you thought. Mate, that’s not humble.

It’s kind of like they’re constantly fighting back the pride lest it burst forth and make them look like a show-off. In cricket terms, Root hasn’t even got all that much to be humble about. Using your in-depth knowledge of cricket captaincy and your carefully-researched insight into his character, do you think he’ll be just as successful as a captain as he is as a batsman?

Based on my in-depth knowledge of cricket captaincy and my carefully-researched insight into his character, I think Joe Root is going to be the greatest England cricket captain of all time. Why not? Someone has to be and it might as well be a blond lad called Joe from Sheffield and he stands more chance than Joe Elliot.

Interesting. Do you think he’ll also one day have a case for being named Sheffield’s Greatest Joe?

Doubt he’ll ever topple Joe Cocker. Not many men will ever cover a Beatles song and have it set as the theme tune to a cloying sentimental American sitcom about adolescence.


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  1. I never thought I’d read about Joe Cocker on this website.

    Respect, Prince Prefab. Respect, King Cricket…

    …although Uriah Heep might have been more appropriate…

    …Very ‘Eavy,..Very ‘Umble

    1. I was thinking more on the lines of The Band, ‘take a load off Cookie and you put the load right on me. . . ‘

  2. Wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who once told a fellow he shouldn’t make himself so small because he wasn’t that big?

  3. I think it was captain mark Phillips, princess anne’s ex who was asked about humility as a leadership quality. “Yes. It’s important to be humile.” was the response.

      1. A former boss of mine used to say “humile” all the time – it took massive self-control to let it pass.

        Prince Prefab is spot on too. That usage really, really irritates me; it’s almost always used when they mean “exalted”.

    1. Probably only one of them wrote it – ‘Lennon and McCartney’ as a songwriting partnership were well past the collaborative stage by the time of Sgt Pepper, so it’s likely that KC is, in a strange way, correct to place the apostrophe there.

      1. Although ‘The Beatles Bible‘ has a quote from John Lennon saying: “That’s Paul with a little help from me. ‘What do you see when you turn out the light/I can’t tell you but I know it’s mine’ is mine.”, in which case KC is clearly wrong and should be ‘let out to dry’.

      2. All these years I’ve placed him on a pedalstool, only to find out he has no idea what he’s doing with the humble apostrophe… what a damp squid.

      3. I’ve always liked the story about when Lennon was asked whether Ringo was one of the best drummers of the age. Apparently he said, “He’s not even the best drummer in the Beatles.”

      4. Interview on Grandstand after their return from the US:

        Q: “We’d like to hear what you thought about (meeting) Mister Clay.” (Cassius Clay, aka Mohammed Ali)

        JOHN: “Very tall.”

        RINGO: “Oh, he’s a big lad.”

        PAUL: “He’s a great laugh, more than anything. He’s a big lad.”

        GEORGE: “He’s gonna get Sonny Liston in three.”

        JOHN: “…he said.”

        RINGO: “So he said.”

        PAUL: “That’s what he said. I don’t think he will, though.”

        Q: “I hear you were creeping up to Harry Carpenter in the training camp, Paul, and whispering things to him.”

        PAUL: “Yeah. Well you see, the only thing was– He asked me who was going to win! And I would have told him out that I thought Liston was gonna win.”

        JOHN: (jokingly) “You coward!”

        PAUL: (laughs) “I’m a coward! And it was in Clay’s camp, you see, and there was all these big fellas around. I had to whisper, you know.”

        JOHN: (starts singing, and Paul joins in) “‘Liston, do you want to know a secret”

      5. Cracking tale that, Bert. Reminds me of the time I ran into (non-literally) Dusty Springfield, who was hitch-hiking on the A557. To this day I have no idea why the late, 1960s/70s soul singer was so keen to visit an industrial Cheshire town, one-time home of the only player to take a hat-trick and score a century in an Ashes test, but she kept asking so I felt obliged.

  4. “False humility is pride in not being proud. Reall humility is without the consciousness that pride exists”. Actually, that’s quite irritating. I think Gywneth Paltrow might have said it after getting an award for knitting a mantra out of yoghurt.

  5. To go completely off topic does anyone understand the convention of not appointing bowlers as captains? It doesn’t seem to apply to all rounders even ones who are better bowlers than batsmen. What’s the stage of being bad at batting you have to reach for this to apply?

      1. Yer man Bob Willis pretty much broke all of your England captaincy rues, KC, yet didn’t make to bad a fist of it.

        Mind you, born in Sunderland, raised in Surrey and crafted in Warwickshire is not yer quintessential northerner, I suppose. But bowler who could barely bat? For sure.

        A Dylan man (neither a Beatles man nor a Joe Cocker man), by all accounts. A b=northerner Bringing It All Back Home, then.

        (KC would you kindly provide a glossary for Sam and other youngsters too lazy to Google things?)

  6. Thinking about this. Courtney Walsh was captain of the Windies at the end of the 90s……And you don’t get much worse at batting then he did. Which would suggest the threshold is quite low.

  7. Does Australian cricket also follow The Rules? Or is the only rule “don’t take slimming pills from your mum”? I sometimes get confused.

    1. Australians don’t have rules. They have lines which they occasionally headbutt but do not cross.

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