I have not had a great deal of luck with hat-tricks over the years. This week I failed to see Andrew Flintoff’s and I’d previously missed watching Darren Gough’s against Australia in ‘99, and Dominic Cork’s against the West Indies in ’95. I was probably asleep during Gough’s escapade in Sydney, but I was definitely awake for Cork’s and that is the one that disappointed me the most.
When I was a teenager we had, at home, a second television. It wasn’t a very fancy one. We had, in fact, inherited it from my grandfather. The whole contraption was about the size of a photocopier, gave off a strong smell of bakelite if it was on for longer than 15 minutes, and had a screen not much bigger than that of a digital watch.
You were supposed to be able to change the channels by turning a dial on the front, although this part of the equipment was rather sensitive, so you could also change channels by getting up out of your chair quickly or walking across the room. Although it had the word “COLOUR” emblazoned above the screen, it in fact flickered intermittently between black and white and colour, and didn’t show an image at all if you stood too near it. It was, with the benefit of hindsight, an astonishingly rubbish, and probably somewhat life-threatening, piece of equipment.
Its greatest attribute was that everyone else in the house was terrified of it, and so I was able to lug it up to my bedroom on the top floor. It was my television, on which I could watch whatever I wanted without having to argue with brother or my parents. This meant that instead of going train surfing or daubing graffiti on bus stops, I could watch cricket in my bedroom, just as long as I was prepared to endure the upsetting speed at which it flickered and the worrying headaches that it caused. This was the television on which I should have watched Dominic Cork’s hat-trick.
I’d happily caught all of the first three days of that Fourth Test uninterrupted. I’d seen wickets for Cork and Fraser in the first innings and a delightful 94 from Graham Thorpe. John Emburey was making one of those little comebacks that he made in the Atherton era. And on the Sunday morning I sat down to watch the first over and the door bell rang. I ignored it. Then it rang again. And again. The rest of my family were at home as well and I was definitely the furthest from the door bell. I knew they had all definitely heard the door bell, because they were all shouting “door bell” up the stairs to me. I stomped down the stairs with an acute sense of martyrdom past the rest of my family who were all engrossed in activities that they felt precluded them from opening the front door – pairing socks, brushing teeth or reading NME.
After opening the door to discover a friend of my brother, I returned upstairs in time to see John Crawley wrapping his arms around an ecstatic Cork while David Gower roared triumphant commentary. This seemed a bit over the top, I thought, before I noticed the score in the top right hand corner and everything became clear.
Miles Jupp is an actor, comedian and cricket fan