Adam Hollioake has a blog. You can tell it’s his, because it says ADAM HOLLIOAKE a lot on every page, in big Alpha Male letters. It has green borders and a migrainey white-text-on-black-background thing going on, which suggests that the versatile former Surrey man does not number web design among his many talents, but overall it’s pretty good.
He’s got some interesting things to say about the topic-of-the-moment, Test cricket and its demise, which some people believe is being greatly exaggerated. See here
Adam makes some arguments that are good (lack of a meaningful championship); some that are bad (people have less leisure time now than when Test cricket was popular – demonstrably, they don’t); and some, like this one about drawn matches, that are endearingly mad:
“My wife came up with a great analogy the other day, she said: “If there was a film that had the best actors, the best storyline, the best directors and producers, with the most expensive special effects, would you go and watch it?” My reply was: “Of course.” She then said “What if I told you the film lasted five days and I couldn’t guarantee you seeing the End?” I thought long and hard and at that moment realized that Test Cricket is desperately in need of an overhaul.”
There you go, then: Test cricket as the movie that never ends. Or, as Adam seems to be implying, the movie where you might actually expire before the final reel. Pretty intense stuff, although in fairness, if Trotty books in for B&B on one of those flat decks in the Dubai this winter, hurling oneself to sweet oblivion from the metaphorical projectionist’s balcony might not seem like such a bad idea.
Anyway, I wanted to recommend Adam’s blog to you. Firstly, because it has one of the best “behind the curtain” anecdotes about professional cricket you could wish for, in which the former England captain contrasts the four-day county game with T20:
“We played five action-packed [T20] games to full crowds. I remember 6’s, wickets, action! We then went up to Nottinghamshire to play a four-day game. The first over was bowled by Martin Bicknell, who bowled six beautiful balls just outside off stump. The batsman left all six. We all clapped and yelled out “well bowled, Bickers” then jogged 40 yards to the other end (first slip to first slip), where we hoped the next bowler would do the same. It was at this moment where I thought: ‘Wow, this is boring.’ I can only imagine what the crowd was thinking.”
Basically, you can shove your Art Of Captaincy where the sun don’t shine: this is cricket as art, philosophy, literature, chess. Incidentally, chess is also well boring, probably even more boring than Martin Bicknell’s nagging fourth stump line.
A pastime that most definitely is not boring, reckons Adam, is UFC. I was initially worried this might be something paramilitary and Northern Ireland related, but it turns out to be the Ultimate Fighting Championship. Cage fighting, mixed martial arts, people who have been drummed out of the army for being too aggressive trying to elbow each other’s face off in an underground car-park: you know the sort of thing.
“The UFC is exciting, explosive and you get to see eight winners and losers within a three-hour period, all aimed at holding a World Title Belt aloft.”
It certainly sounds action-packed, and on the face of it, how could cricket hope to compete? Or so I thought to myself while defacing a picture of Martin Bicknell from the Surrey 2001 yearbook. But then I realised that cricket was already streets ahead and that, once again, Ian Bell was leading the way. Bell has, famously, been training with some of the West Midlands’ most fearsome MMA proponents for some time, and has credited the experience with toughening him up physically and mentally, finally allowing him to become the Test-class batsman we have today.
There is surely a solution that can encompass both Martin Bicknell’s apparently unwatchable excellence and the thrills and spills of UFC: combine the two. County Cricket should henceforth be played in cages, between players of roughly similar weights (sorry, Tim, you’re bowling at Jesse), in one-on-one bat v ball duels with no biting, eye-gouging or rabbit punches and a bonus point awarded for a clean knockout, or 250 runs on first innings. The punters will come flooding back, and with the proper management, the good times are gonna roll. It just needs the right man in the Don King role, and for that reason, I am voting Adam Hollioake to be the new president of the International Cage Cricket Council. Seconds out, five balls left.
By Alan Tyers
More Anglo-Aussie heroes in CrickiLeaks: The Secret Ashes Diaries, by Tyers and Beach, here