The unique and overlooked ways that cricket was ahead of the game in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic

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A couple of times recently, we’ve made the point that cricket not happening is very much an integral part of cricket.

We once travelled all the way to Birmingham to spend an entire day watching cricket not happen, so doing the same thing from the comfort of our own home doesn’t feel like a particular hardship in and of itself.

Cricket not happening is an occupational hazard for broadcasters too. That ability to fill time indefinitely is what separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls.

As fans, we’re all used to this. We’re comfortable with it. A few months without cricket? We’ll piss it.

But there’s more. Regular King Cricket contributor Bert writes…

“It strikes me that in these times, Cricket has missed a glorious opportunity to point out that it has been right all along. I mean, who spent their weekends social distancing better than the average club cricketers? Even shouting barely carried the distance between players.

“Of course, elite level cricket got this, like most things, badly wrong. Close catchers, slip cordons, everyone running together and hugging to celebrate a no ball – this was dangerous behaviour then and is dangerous behaviour now. It wouldn’t surprise me if it turned out that it was all this touching and closeness that started this mess. And occasionally, an over-zealous club skipper would get beyond himself and try to set a pro-level field, and we would be treated to one of the great sounds of an English summer:

“‘Bob, grab a helmet and go in at short leg.’

“‘Piss off.’

“So if cricket wants to rescue something from the international summer, surely it should be to go back to basics. Have a Test series with proper, club-level field-settings. And yes, I mean including a long stop. A law could be introduced that if a bowler went on an arms-raised celebration run after a wicket, all his teammates would just call him a wanker and turn their backs. And when dismissed in the last innings, batsmen would avoid the pavilion altogether and get straight in their cars and go home.

“Social Distancing the club cricket way.”


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


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  1. I can still recall going into bat, 9 wickets down with 10 overs to go, to try and save a match. The pair of us obstinately hung around and made double figures for one of the few times in our careers. An hour later, drenched with sweat from concentration and exertion the two of us had salvaged a memorable draw. We trudged off the field expecting to be met with adulation from our team mates in the clubhouse. Every last one of the fuckers had gone home. Like Bert says – social distancing the club cricket way.


      1. Perils of playing for the 3rd XI. Ironically that’s where they were, with the firsts. Bastards.

  2. I remember opening the bowling for the seconds when the 1st 11 keeper was moved down to the seconds, with the 2nd 11 keeper moved up to the firsts (does that make sense?).

    Anyhow, as it went, the first 11 keeper (who was now the second 11 keeper) had kept his place in the firsts because, for the last thirty years, no one had had the bottle to tell him he was shit.

    I finished my first blindingly quick over, with awkward bounce and a hint of away swing (apart from the last delivery which was a big in-ducker almost breaking the batsman’s toes)…that’s certainly the way I remember it, but I’m fairly sure all six hit the cut strip, when the skipper sent me to fine leg.

    I wandered down, and spun around when I got to the boundary (well I was 18, so could still do things like ‘spin’) only to see the captain waving at me furiously and shouting “FINER”, so I moved six yards to my right, looked up, and the captain was still shouting at me to move finer, then pointing to third man, and doing a weird karate chop type gesture…like half way between fine leg and third man. That’s when I learned about the fielding position “Long Stop”.

  3. Didn’t he chastise you once for referring to him as “a frequent contributor” or some such and proceeded to write up a charmingly inaccurate description of himself?

    1. Damned right. But to be honest, I think I went a little over the top with that description. It makes me sound a little pretentious. So instead of “good egg”, read “pretty good egg”. That should do it.

      Two things about finding that link though. The first is that the search page still has the old colour scheme, for those of you nostalgic for a long lost past. The second is that I used the phrase “Bell epoch”, which was at least as good as the “milk Underwood” line from the other day, and also didn’t raise any comments. Philistines.

      1. Neither passed me by and I enjoyed both without comment, Bert.

        If that makes me a Philistine then so be it – you can be Nebuchadnezzar and send me into exile.

  4. In the spirit of the times, where playing retrospective sporting events has replaced real live sport, I offer you this. It has everything. Evidence that women’s sport was on our screens long before the last World Cup (even if accompanied by references to their cooking the Sunday Dinner), Fred Trueman demonstrating his in-depth knowledge of European art history,and genuinely unaffected Yorkshire dialect.

    Ah’ll seethee.

    1. If you just randomly click the timeline, you quickly realise that every second of the Indoor League is, in some way or other, incredible.

    2. Ah, bar billiards.

      Believe it or not, within walking distance of Lord’s, The Robert Browning (now known as The Eagle) has a fine bar billiards table. I used to go there reasonably often, but over the years in became one of the least welcoming pubs “on my manor”, to such an extent that I have eschewed the place for some time.

      But the new management and new name might have changed all of that. Once the lockdown is over, I must give the renamed place and the new management a try.

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