The Old Trafford mat-fitting scandal – a match report

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Send your match reports to We’re only really interested in your own experience, so if it’s a professional match, on no account mention the cricket itself. (But if it’s an amateur match, feel free to go into excruciating detail.)

Bert reckons the following match report “reasonably accurately” covers the discussion he had with his companion during the second Test, “what with the free bar and everything.” He warns that it might read a little strangely, “but if you take several hours to read it and drink continuously during this process, you’ll find it is perfectly logical.”

Bert writes…

A day at the Manchester Test is always something to look forward to. One can expect to see some decent cricket, invariably a full day’s play owing to the sub-tropical microclimate that envelops the North West of England. And of course, that famed Lancashire hospitality that brings tourists in their thousands to explore the winding streets and alleys of Salford and Wythenshawe is always something to savour.

What one doesn’t expect is a mind fuck – a technological and existential explosion that leaves one literally unsure of what constitutes reality. I mean, look at this photo. LOOK AT IT – have you ever in your life seen anything like that?

Our exploration of this anomaly started benignly enough. We just wondered why, given that painting stuff on grass is pretty straightforward, the LV adverts were instead on rugs fixed to the ground. We noticed this because of some small ripples in the rug fabric, and wondered if these would affect the ball running over it. Then we wondered if it might slip when a fielder ran on it, causing injury. It all seemed a bit strange, but the world has been a bit strange these last few years. Maybe it was some form of protection for the players against catching grass disease. This seemed a reasonable explanation, so we had another drink and forgot about it.

It was some drinks later when my friend made a second and astonishing discovery. The rugs at both ends were readable from this end! WHAT!? I mean, people of a certain age like not me but Ged will recall a time when there were cameras at one end only, but this hasn’t been true for decades. What was going on?

A trip to the bar provided a bold and disturbing suggestion. Maybe the rug reads the right way up no matter which way you look at it. Maybe this was the reason they were rugs and not grass. A close look at the nearest rug did seem to show some evidence of this, the word “insurance” seemingly visible upside down at its far end.

But this led to other questions, not the least of which was what would happen if a player ran over it from one end to the other? Would he become reversed also? When he got to the other end, would he be upside down, or inside out, or would he simply end up running off the same end of the rug he started at? And what would happen to his brain during this transition? Surely no mortal intelligence could cope with such an event, no matter how much they’d been drinking.

Fortunately for the players, but unfortunately for the totality of metaphysical knowledge, the only time this happened it was Stuart Broad, so evidence of the effect on a human brain was limited. He did, however, appear off the rug the right way out, so at least we could rule out that possibility. He also appeared to continue his run in the same direction (if words like “direction” have meaning any more). This could mean only one thing – that while the rug clearly inverted spatial dimensions within its boundary, it also must invert the time dimension. Broad was running backwards in space AND backwards in time, with the overall effect to the outside observer being that he was running normally.

This observation and a drink led to the final revelation. Why go to all this trouble of creating a time reversing field when nobody gives a fuck about insurance anyway? The answer was right there on the scorecard. Anderson 3 for 32. Broad 3 for 37. The ECB, that much maligned body seemingly comprised only of idiots and morons, has found the answer to our long term bowling concerns. Twenty more years, people, twenty more years.


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  1. Presumably the time-warping nature of the insurance mats explain how this match report was published so quickly.

    However, bowling figures mentioned in a match report? Is such a thing allowed?

  2. If only I knew the bowling figures before they happened due to the time reversing rugs, I could have had a bet & won enough to but a £7 pint at OT!

  3. Scenario: last ball of a match. Four to win. The ball is struck firmly straight down the ground, surely heading for the boundary. It hits the sponsors matting, slowing it down. Three scored.

  4. While following Bert’s magnificent prose, I was also keenly looking at the pictures to make sure everything made sense (they did not). However, things went southward when the second one instructed me to unlock my greatness. Much to my disappointment I discovered I misplaced the keys sometime in the early nineties. Where do I get one of them time-reversing mats?

  5. I guess this post answers (conclusively!) my question from the Ollie Robinson thread the other day. Bert did indeed have a good few days. And then some. Fine, fine work.

  6. Thanks for pointing out my antiquity, Bert. I think when I started viewing in the early 1970s there was already more than one camera, although only one end at a time would be shown…but I could be wrong. I’m old enough to be forgiven the occasional memory lapse.

    Given that you were clearly enjoying some lavish hospitality with proper glassware (and no doubt crockery) involved, I’d have thought the least you could do would be to wax lyrical and in excruciating detail about the food and bev.

    I’m with you on the matter of mentioning elements of the scorecard from the previous days play. This was a Day Two match report, making such details outside the scope of mentioning the Day Two cricket.

    Excellent loopholing. Can you loop me back through the space-time continuum to the days of Benaud & Laker describing the cricket so beautifully that the paucity of lenses was of little or no consequence?

    1. You’re very welcome. And yes, there was crockery as well as glassware. And David Gower. And champagne for breakfast but Prosecco after that (presumably to limit costs after the conditions of “a champagne breakfast” were fulfilled). It didn’t bother me though, as I was strictly drinking beer (*).

      On the matter of TV angles, I’ve long thought that as with many things in life, the option to have it from behind is one I would like to be available to me. Not that I would want it from behind every time, but on occasion it can help to make it more interesting. It’s an entirely different perspective on things. You see details that you otherwise might have missed. But these days it’s all strictly from the front (**). I suppose that at least you get to see faces that way.

      (*) Solely drinking beer, that is, not drinking beer while being ordered around by a cruel mistress in leather who is carrying a whip.
      (**) Solely from the front, that is, in the case of watching cricket.

      1. Thanks Bert, this is shining a whole new light on Strictly Come Dancing for me, I might even start watching it.

  7. I think what Bert may possibly have observed was an example of Relativity of Simultaneity, but there is also another more intriguing answer.

    Here is where we explore Einstein’s theory about the relationship between space and time, or at least a valid interpretation of Special Relativity under the relatively stationary circumstance of Bert’s observations (Einstein’s theory relates to observations made my observers moving relative to one another, but here, the same concept can be applied to stationary objects [Bert] as well, sort of). What Bert has observed is two simultaneous events (upside down and downside up or backwards and forwards in his reference frame [note that in each of these cases, they are both the same relatively speaking – upside down or downside up is exactly the same despite the difference in how I wrote it, while backwards is the same as forwards as these are but an abstract concept experienced by the onlooker relative to that singular movement, in both space and in time]). This does not mean that those two events occurred at the same time, only in relationship to Bert’s position. One could have occured a light second away in distance before the other which occurred right next to him, but if the event that occurred a light second in distance away occurred a light second away in time from the other next to Bert as well, then it would appear that both events would have occurred at the same time (cos’ speed of light). However, it seems that Bert observed these apparent simultaneous events in the same place rather than in two easily seperated places. However, Relativity of Simultaneity may still apply. If Bert was moving (or even swaying cos’ of beer), he may have witnessed a slight change in the two apparent simultaneous events. Normally, if he was moving away from the object under discussion in the match report, one of the objects the upside down or downside up/backwards or forwards would appear to reach him later than the one he is swaying towards, (cos’ the speed of light is finite). Normally this difference is so close together (cos’ speed of light) that they are not measurable by standard instruments or the sober human eye. Consumption of beer on the other hand will allow the observer to percieve this minute difference in both space and time. However, it seems that a pissed Bert did not detect a change in the apparent simultaneous events, i,e., becoming not simultaneous, but continued to see them as simultaneous events. If indeed these events took place in exactly the same place then we enter the realm of quantum physics.

    It has been demonstrated that two things can exist in the same place at the same time. This is called quantum superposition. As its name suggests, it has been thought that this applies to sub-atomic particles only. Of course, many a thought experiment was initiated, perhaps based on beer, and the likes of Schrodinger came up with his well-known cat where it is both dead and alive according to the theory of quantum mechanics, and is an example of linear superposition where two things can occur at the same time (but he left out one vital component which will be discussed later). However, as quantum mechanics is considered to be not determinable by nature (we know where things like an electron MIGHT be, but not where it is), these were considered not to occur in the observable world. The phenomenon of quantum entanglement was put forward by Einstein where if an action is performed on one of two or more particles, the other particle(s) will be affected immediately, at the same time even if they are light years apart (yes, this factual paradox remains unsolved). They become unified. They exist in more than one place at the same time. However, these states are fragile and easily disrupted, and only able to exist at the sub-atomic level. It was thought that the colder the termperature (i.e., closer to absolute zero), and closer the atoms, the more coherent the entanglement could be.

    However, this appears to be wrong! Here is where we need to consider ‘spin’, (the bit Schrodinger left out) not in the sense of angular momentum as seen in a cricket ball, best espoused by the likes Muralitharan, but in the quantum sense (although Muralitharan may have dipped into this on occasion whilst on beer). Instead of going straight on or to the side, they go up or down, randomly, and the magnitude of their spin is fixed, e.g., – or + 1/2, 1, 3/2, etc. (this bit being rather important). To keep a long story short, physicists found that by shooting a beam of polarized light at a bunch of atoms in a heated state (177c in this case, which is about the temperature the UK will hit in a few years time), under the right conditions, they found that the hot, random collisions allowed the atoms to pass on their entanglement to others resulting in the sum of the spin of these paired atoms, and consequently others, to be zero, thus stabilising the aggregated entanglement of several trillion atoms for a millisecond or more (a sum of not zero would break up the entanglement). In theory, this would allow macroscopic entanglements, under certain conditions, to be visible to the human eye. In other words, one would see two things at once. This makes the last photo in Bert’s report to be of ground breaking significance. It could be, quite possibly, but also quite unlikely, all at the same time, that Bert witnessed a linear superposition of the macro-entanglement that has been able to persist beyond the millisecond physicists have produced in the lab, i.e., he saw two things at once for quite a long time. That and the fact that Bert used a very bad swear twice in his report (although the latter would be easily explained by the simpler Relativity of Simultaneity where both existed at the same time, but one occurred before the other because that’s how I read it).

    Yeah, I coudn’t sleep, so came up with this, but I dare anyone else to come with a more coherent blither in response to a match report, or anything else for that matter.

    1. This must surely rank as one of the longer comments we’ve had, but perhaps not the hardest to comprehend. Pretty sure someone defended Ajit Agarkar once. That’s just plain impossible to understand.

      1. Your reply has vindicated my effort 🙂

        …although in hindsight there are things that should not be done in a sleepless stupor in the middle of the night – write quantum physics essays in response to a cricket report, contemplating existence, bid on ebay, etc.

    2. Excellent stuff, Dis. From a physics perspective, it lacks only one thing – magic. You didn’t mention the impact that magic has on the quantum world. You know, fairies, dragons, unicorns, Gandalf… that sort of thing.

      Seriously, try it. Quantum entanglement is far easier to understand if you take the “spooky” bit in Einstein’s comment literally.

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