I don't like cricket, oh no…
I love it. I really do love cricket. The only thing I'm not enjoying about the current Ashes tour is the fact that all the matches are in the middle of the night, and even on nights when I don't have to work the next day I invariably fall asleep before the coverage starts.
I love cricket for its variations – the quick thrill of a limited overs match, the strategy and tension of a five-day one – and its wonderful inclusiveness, with teams from all over the world playing this fantastic game in largely friendly circumstances. (At an England/West Indies match in Bristol, I sat happily chatting with a Bristol West Indian chap and an Indian one who worked in the United States but had fitted in some cricket while visiting family.) I've been to ladies' games, charity matches, county cricket, even one overseas Test match… it's all good, and all are welcome. And because I love all those things, I love cricket for its history too.
There are things about cricket that I feel will appeal to lovers of vintage. Although there have been changes to the game and grounds over the years, it is a sport well aware of its traditions and one that remembers its heroes, so the past is always present. Bowlers who take five wickets in an innings or batsmen (I'm including female players in that term) who score a century get their names put on the ground's honours board, there for all time. You can take a picnic. Depending on the ground, champagne or Pimms may be for sale. (I have to say, I also love cricket for the opportunity to spend the whole day drinking while watching 22 fit young men run around, and while I always take a picnic and my own wine to Lords because it's so bleedin' pricy to buy food and drink there, at other grounds I usually make a beeline for the curry van and beer tent.) Test Match Special is simply fantastic; even if you don't like cricket I recommend trying listening to it. At first you may wonder who all the people commentating are, but eventually you'll get to know them and their quirks and it really is addictive – and rarely is it always about cricket.
Pimms by the pint
Cricket whites (mmmm, crumpet!)
Listening to Test Match Special on the radio
Taking a picnic to Lords
The fish cutters (fried flying fish rolls) at Kensington Oval, Barbados
Buying curry from a van at most other grounds
Being surrounded by people with pretty good manners, even when completely bladdered.
DO NOT WANT!
Those wretched pyjamas teams wear for one day games. There's modernisation of the game and then there's idiocy.
The glaring white fleeces England wear instead of proper cream wool jumpers (see above).
Images are: Jim Laker, who took all ten wickets for 53 runs in the fourth Ashes test in 1956 – Anil Kumble is the only other bowler who has managed to take all ten in an innings since.
The 1882 Aussie team – the first ones to win the Ashes.