I find that most of life’s knocks can be tempered if couched in cricket terms. Friends have made a lot of scornful and disbelieving noises recently after I’ve informed them that my new driving instructor is, in fact, my fifth. But I console myself by thinking of this odd achievement as like picking up a “five-fer”.
Imagine my joy when 15 minutes into my first lesson with the new chap, I engineered the conversation around to cricket and it turned out that he too is a massive fan.
This has been fantastic for me, as it means that my gearbox scrapes and uncanny knack of turning on the hazard lights whenever I corner have been forgiven on account of my being happy to absorb his insights in to the Australia-South Africa series. “Australia is a side in transition. It would be wrong for Ponting to hand over to anyone now,” he said yesterday, as I attempted to give way to a parked car in Mill Hill.
He soon realised that I understood aspects of driving technique much quicker, if he explained them using cricketing analogies.
I had a tendency to cling too tightly to the steering wheel and so he told me that I must relax a little.
“It’s as if you’re batting against a spinner. You’ll be much more successful if you use soft hands.”
When clear road opened ahead of us, I wasn’t getting up to the speed quick enough.
“You’re getting bogged down,” he said. “Don’t just look to bat out a session. Take control, accelerate.”
I first obtained a provisional driving license in the late 1990s but I haven’t been having lessons all of that time, you understand, they’ve been sporadic. In cricketing terms my driving record would be roughly equivalent to Derek Pringle’s Test career – 30 matches spread out over more than a decade and with varying degrees of success and control.
Much has changed in the world of English cricket since I first tried to shoe-horn it into a conversation about lane-changing etiquette or manual transmission. Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher were yet to form their crucial partnership. Stuart Broad was an opening batsman yet to experience a growth spurt. KP was the only member of the Natal B side dreaming of captaining England.
But my progress has been certainly less exciting than England’s and cricketing metaphors haven’t been able to help all aspects of my driving.
“What would a cricket coach say about my parallel parking?” I asked the instructor this afternoon.
He pondered the question for a long time, scratching his head and creasing his brow. What nuggets of wisdom were about to fall from his pensive lips? What cricketing inspiration was going to unlock the mysteries of this fiendish manoeuvre?
“I imagine,” he eventually said, “that they would think it was shit.”
Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan