Reading matter

I have been asked to say a few words – well more than a few. “You’ve twenty minutes to fill,” I was firmly told by the organisers. 20 minutes. Not sure how I’ll use all that time up. Perhaps in about ten minutes or so Andrew Strauss would be kind enough to send on a a physio, that should kill a bit of time.

It’s going to be a long time before Strauss and England live down the dying moments of the first Ashes Test — the amateur-hour theatricals involving a 12th man and a physio give British author/actor Stephen Fry [Blog; Twitter] a nice opening gambit for his speech, in the Long Room at Lord’s, to the English and Australian teams that will face off at the venue in the second Ashes Test today.

So a hundred years on from cricket’s Golden Age of  C. B. Fry here is another Fry, searching for a way to toast a game that appears to have become … well, toast.

Enjoyable and, when even amidst the laugh-out-loud lines, insightful. Enjoy.

And while on humor and the Ashes and Lord’s — unintentional juxtaposition, I assure you — here’s the inimitable Andy Zalzman:

So England managed to put themselves on the road to recovery. However, at Lord’s they must now endeavour not to swerve off it into a ditch at the first available opportunity. To do this, they must overcome the Hand Of History, which is flipping them an enormous bird and telling them they have no chance. England’s last Ashes win at the home of cricket occurred when Iran was still Persia, when Hitler was still considered to be in the ‘jaunty curiosity’ category by most of the world’s leaders, before briefs (closely followed by their rogue cousin, y-fronts) had revolutionised the world of underpants, and when Elvis Presley’s mummy was still waiting to feel the future King of Rock’n’Roll’s foetal hips gyrating provocatively in her womb for the first time.

Furthermore, if you wanted to have seen England win two Ashes Lord’s Tests, you would have to be the oldest man, or in the top ten oldest women, in the world – First World War veteran Henry Allingham, now aged 113, was 16 days old when WG Grace rumbled down the pavilion steps to lead England to a six-wicket victory in 1896. To put this in further context, there were still people alive at that point who had fought in the Battle of Waterloo.

For the curio seekers, here’s the scoreboard from the last time England won a Test against Australia at Lord’s.