Beach Cricket Disappoints Jeremy Loadman
Who would have thought you’d ever see Mark Greatbatch back on Australian soil (err sand) playing cricket? One thing you can say about him is that he is in his natural element: it always used to look as though he was running on sand such was his speed between the stumps.
But what the hell is this beach cricket? Three teams, eight players each, all very good cricketers in their time, and some even with reputations, one would think, too respectful to be risking on the sands of Coolangatta Beach. Mark Waugh, Alan Border and Alan Donald – even Greatbatch surely doesn’t want to taint Aussie memories of what he was capable of. Remember his dogged 146 not out against the Aussies in Perth in 1989-90 to stave off what looked like a certain Australian victory?
The money on offer must be good; it surely can’t be the offer of free XXXX Gold. I’m guessing the primary reason for the tournament is to see if the brewery can get rid of the stuff through a combination of giving it away to the bored punters in the stands and Lance Klusener.
While Twenty20 is causing administrators headaches they certainly won’t be losing any sleep over the need to schedule a beach cricket tour into the packed calendar.
I mean, have you ever seen cricket so boring? And I’m not just talking about the continuous flow of shots that come to rest in the sand no more than two metres from the bat. I’m really thinking of the commentary. Whoever thought that Graham Gooch had the personality required to provide the constant stream of witticisms and quirky banter with the players needed to make this game fun should be shot. And that would be letting him off lightly.
Prior to the game Gooch is out in the middle talking about how a good start in the first few overs can take the pressure off and let the middle order hit out. Two words: what pressure? It’s bloody beach cricket! After the tormenting experience of captaining a losing Ashes side, you think he would know that facing up to a bunch of over 40s waddling in and having a trundle with a tennis ball is not pressure.
Did the Channel Ten executives see the late night ‘yeah yeah’ commercials with Goochie and actually believe his spruiking that his hair brought the zest back into his life. While Gooch might have picked up a lot of things travelling around the world with the England team, zest is definitely not one of them.
As Elaine famously said to George in Seinfeld when he decided to get a hairpiece, “I think they might have sutured that thing to your brain!”
But perhaps Goochie is just right for the job. Is there any point in trying to hype a product that is fundamentally lacking in any real capacity to excite? It is in this respect that Goochie might just be the perfect fit. The Essex accent dovetails nicely with the site of retired cricketers slowly pressing through the Coolangatta sands to remind us that beach cricket is not a television sport.
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