Monday, July 23, 2007

View from the boundary

Cricket is a game that lends itself very easily to metaphor and analogy. Yesterday, while gently toasting myself in the top tier of the Compton Stand, a number of, admittedly slighty tenuous, analogies between cricketers and politicians sprang alcoholically to mind. Bearing in mind that these always sound better at 5.30 after a long hot day here goes:
1. Andrew Strauss/David Cameron
After a meteoric start to his career, the young public-school educated opener has fallen on leaner times. Accused by some of lacklustre footwork and an infuriating habit of looking good without going on to deliver big scores, he is still one of England's classiest players and should be able to reverse his recent setbacks.
2. Steve Waugh/Gordon Brown
Universally believed to have a weakness against hostile and targeted bowling, but gritty, tenacious and, undeniably, consistently successful against both quality and second-rate opposition. The sort of player who can look ugly and unsettled at the crease, until you look up and see he has scored 35 not out in no time at all. Took over the best team in the world, and improved it...
3. Sourav Ganguly/Tony Blair
Aristocratic and imperious, the former Indian captain sometimes chafed at having to deal with mere mortals. Despite a reputation for arrogance he forged a winning team out of a side that had been famous for internal squabbling and wasted talent. Left the team rather under a cloud, but has since returned...
4. Graeme Hick/Michael Portillo
Oh the frustration! Blessed with a great degree of natural talent, and looking set for great things, Hick somehow never possessed sufficient mental toughness to succeed at the highest level. Eminently capable of better things, and successful by normal standards, Hick will sadly always be remembered as someone who never lived up to his potential.

5. Chris Cowdrey/Iain Duncan Smith
A good, solid cricketer elevated wildly beyond his capabilities, Cowdrey was raised to captain the struggling England side against a rampant West Indies. Barely worth his place as a batsman, let alone as a captain, Cowdrey was soon dropped and never again played at the top level.

6. Alistair Cook/David Miliband
Tall, dark and absurdly young, Cook has made a stellar start to his career. People are talking of him as a Future England Captain, even before he has had prolonged experience of life at the top. Potentially very good, but how well will he react to the inevitable challenges ahead?

In the spirit of evenhandedness, I suppose I ought to mention some Lib Dems...

7. David Boon/Charlie Kennedy
Australia's combative number three and short-leg specialist will be remembered in the annals of cricket history for two things: a moustache that threatened at times to escape into the wild, and an epic journey from Australia to England for the Ashes campaign of 1985. Determined to break the existing record (held by Rodney Marsh) for the largest number of beers consumed on the flight, Boony shattered Marsh's record (a measly 35) and, by the time the plane taxied across the runway was blowing the froth of his 52nd. Boon was carried through customs on a motorised buggy, and Australia lost the Ashes.
8. An MCC Member/Sir Menzies Campbell
In his youth, he was a pretty useful player but now he sits and dreams, jealously guarding his seat in the pavilion. Younger members refer to it as 'Death Row'. Mmm...Ranjitsinghji...Tich Freeman...problem with uncovered pitches...high elbow...mmm.

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