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It’s just nice

2012 January 16
by Legsidelizzy

It’s just nice

I was reading Lawrence Booth’s excellent Top Spin newsletter (which if you haven’t signed up to receive you really should – you can do so by clicking here ) and this bit really stood out to me

“When England lost to South Africa in 2003, Michael Vaughan blamed county cricket. It was a ridiculous claim, just as it would have been ridiculous to ascribe England’s run of success in 2004 and 2005 to the county game.

It would have been equally strange to say that county cricket was to blame for England’s post-Ashes demise in 2005-06 and beyond; absurd to blame the counties for the home defeats to India and South Africa in 2007 and 2008; and odd to jump to the conclusion that county cricket was at the forefront of results since 2009.

Yet to read some of the responses to David Morgan’s proposal to reduce the county championship from 16 games per team to 14, it is as if the England team has forgotten its debt to the domestic game.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Morgan’s plans, the structure of the county championship will have nothing to do with England’s fortunes. It was ever thus. “



It’s true. It’s hard to prove a correlation between the county championship and the success (or failure) of Team England. Although certainly strong county and academy structures must be more of a help than a hinderance.  Increasingly the England development set up will have more of an impact than county cricket itself – although it’s certainly the breeding ground or at the very least the place where talent can be spotted early.

I’ll be honest – I don’t care.

It’s just that County Cricket is nice. It’s just nice.  It makes my world nicer.  It’s not radical or revolutionary or even very worthy. It doesn’t cure cancer, it doesn’t end poverty.  It’s just nice.

Life can be proper shitty. It’s hard work, tiring, stressful, disappointing and at times heartbreaking. County Cricket is civilised, gentle, intimate and so gloriously and reassuringly British.  I don’t much care if it makes England better (although clearly it would be a lovely by product if it did) – I care that it’s a thing that makes my life better.

I get that County Cricket probably needs the money it gets from the ECB – money that comes from revenue from the England team but it is a product – a thing in itself.  It’s not there simply to service Team England.

It’s there or at least I want it to be there because it’s a thing that some people – ok maybe not that many – want to watch. Just to relax and get away from the crap of the real world. And that is reason enough for us to want to make sure that it’s a competition with integrity.  For those of us who just want to watch it. Just watch it with a gin and tonic in our hand.

I want to go to New Road and get a cup of tea in a china cup from the Ladies pavilion (don’t even dream of asking for a coffee though – they’ll look at you like you’re from Mars).  I want to buy a tombola ticket from the nice ladies at Wantage Road.  I want to sit on a deckchair at Hove with the sea air blowing.  I want to watch 13 men in white clothes do stuff with a red ball.

County Cricket is just nice.

My English teacher, Miss Grayson, used to shout at me for using the word nice.   But given she was about 160 years old when she was teaching me, she must be dead now so …

Yeah County Cricket is NICE. It just is.

What’s your point Lizzy?

To be honest – I probably haven’t got one.

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4 Responses leave one →
  1. January 16, 2012

    “Nice” – as you say “it is just nice” – it reminds me of my son’s school days and playing for the little local club. He loved playing for his school team and he loved playing for the local team. He loved it and once John Stanworth had taught me how to do the scoring, I loved it too. It was simplistic, all the parents were “nice” to each other, and it really was just lovely. I’d help with the grown ups too, doing “teas” and I really did look forward to those days. I used to take gangs of kids down to Lancs and they loved those days. My lad is grown up now, at University and not playing much. Like you Lizzy, I’m not sure of the point of my reply – but I enjoyed this piece.

    • Legsidelizzy permalink*
      January 16, 2012

      Thanks Gillian. Very kind of you to take time to comment

  2. January 17, 2012

    Lizzie, that article embodies what cricket should be about. I enjoy nothing more than watching a game of cricket, from park cricket, junior cricket, club cricket and first class cricket. I remember hopping a bus to the Gabba as a 10 year old, with a bag packed with sandwiches and a cold drink, to watch Greg Chappell make a hundred for Queensland and Jeff Thompson bowl like lightning.
    This last thought was only topped by watching the two of them play against each other in a club game at a nondescript club ground, a mile from home, several months later.

    Great article. Why cant administrators get it ?

  3. nick s permalink
    February 7, 2012

    “It’s just nice” is the point. I can remember as a kid seeing pictures of a cricket match in an encyclopaedia and asking to be taken to see a park match. And then going to watch Boycott grind out a five-hour century in his playing twilight. And only then going to the Test matches.

    County cricket is a balmy summer day off school in Scarborough that’ll leave you with a sunburnt nose you don’t really mind, where the queue to the gents’ hosts an argument between blokes from Barnsley, Doncaster and Ripon, each claiming to be more Yorkshire than the other, and ends in agreement that aye, we’re all better than Lancashire.

    What the administrators forget, I think, in their focus on the pursuit of measurable deliverables, is that county cricket is the foundation for that great intangible, the spirit of the game.

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