Archive for April 16, 2011

Whispering Death

Posted in Cricket with tags , , on April 16, 2011 by telescoper

..and while I’m on the subject of cricket, here’s some examples of one of the all-time greats in action. This is Michael Holding destroying England at the Oval in 1976, when he was only 22. I remember that summer very well, in fact, as  there was a very long and intense heatwave, punctuated by regular visions of England’s cricketers being thrashed by the West Indies;  just look at the parched state of the outfield at the Oval if you don’t believe English summers can be like that!

Holding acquired the nickname “Whispering Death” because his run-up was so smooth and perfectly balanced that you could hardly hear him approaching the wicket, in contrast to some fast bowlers who charged in like a herd of elephants. No arguments, then, with Richie Benaud’s comments on the replay from about 58s onwards. It’s almost as if the phrase “poetry in motion” was invented to describe Michael Holding’s bowling action. I’ll allow anyone – even Brian Cox – to call this awesome.

Note also that this is from an era in which batsmen didn’t wear head protection. Even with a helmet I would have been terrified. Cricket’s not a game for faint hearts…

…  Brian Close had been brought into open the England batting earlier in the series in an attempt to stiffen their resistance to the West Indian attack. He wasn’t the greatest player in the world nor the cricketing world’s most agreeable character, and as you can tell he wasn’t in the first flush of youth in 1976 either, but there is no denying his courage and determination. Here he is enduring a vicious battering at the hands of Michael Holding. One short-pitched delivery in this sequence came within a whisker of hitting him on the head; had it done so the consequences would have been horrendous. As it was, he “only” had to take  a succession of blows to his body. He scored 20 runs at Old Trafford, off 108 balls in 162 minutes, and was dropped for the next Test as was his opening partner John Edrich,  although both had stood their ground and defended their wickets (and themselves) manfully.

Has there ever been another bowler with an action as beautiful as Michael Holding? I don’t think so, but you’re welcome to disagree through the comments box!


Soul Limbo

Posted in Cricket, Music with tags , , , on April 16, 2011 by telescoper

Yesterday after I finished work I shunned the usual Friday-night trip to the Poet’s Corner in favour of dropping in to Sophia Gardens to catch my first County Cricket of the season. It’s actually Glamorgan‘s second game – they lost the first , away at Leicestershire – but they’re doing much better in this one, against Gloucestershire. There was a sparse crowd, but there was some absorbing cricket as Glamorgan’s batsmen fended off some good bowling to end the day on 185 for 3. The game is finely poised, with Glamorgan carrying on this morning to build a handy lead but the game could still go either way.

Anyway, in belated honour of the start of this year’s cricket season, here’s a piece of music that will bring back a lot of memories to those who, like me, used to spend a lot of their time glued to the BBC’s cricket coverage. It’s Soul Limbo, by Booker T and the M.G.’s, the long-time theme tune for the BBC’s cricket coverage. And there’s also a few clips of cricket action to go with it…


Salty Dog

Posted in Jazz with tags , , on April 16, 2011 by telescoper

Well, that’s the end of term and I’m now free, from teaching at least, for three weeks. I thought I’d celebrate by posting a piece of bawdy good-time jazz. Here’s the fabulous Lizzie Miles singing with a band led by the shamefully underrated but wonderfully named New Orleans trumpeter Sharkey Bonano.