“And on come the covers, it is rain stopped play at Lords on the fourth day of this test match between England and New Zealand,” said the commentator. Everything about that sentence was a quintessential English summer, a game that lasts five days, or cricket, and rain in the middle of June.
Now I realise that this is going to sound terribly eccentric, but one of my summer pleasures is cricket, to be more precise listening to cricket on the radio.
When done correctly I believe that radio is the most powerful form of media, I just love it. The images that I create in my head with the tone and delivery of the commentary makes me feel that I’m actually sitting in the stands and watching the game live. And as matches last for five days, and each series between countries goes on for at least three and sometimes five matches, that’s a lot of cricket and a lot of me glued to the radio.
And don’t forget after five days of play there is a still a good chance that the game will end in a draw.
My neighbours probably think I’m mad as I jump around the room or run out on the balcony to celebrate a successful passage of play.
The twists and turns of a five-day game are like a Shakespearian drama, full of suspense and intrigue. I’m not going to even attempt to explain you the rules, and no it is nothing like baseball which in fact has its history in another English ball game. Although the late, great Robin Williams did once say that “Cricket is basically baseball on Valium.”
And yes, Croatia does have some cricket representation, mostly born on the island of Vis thanks to an English navy captain, Sir William Hoste. His fleet were based on the island in the Napoleonic Wars and to keep his troops entertained he developed a cricket ground, it is still there today.
Now, something seismic is happening to the current England cricket team, a great example of the power of thought. After a few years of pretty awful results a new coach and captain decided to take a radical approach. The players are the same, the same team that has been losing regularly, but the mind-set has been changed to an ultra-aggressive, ultra-attaching one. And they have started winning, not only winning but winning from impossible positions, breaking records and creating history.
This new belief got me thinking about the power of the mind to overcome challenges. As one legendary cricket journalist wrote “When belief is all you have, belief is all you need.” And he is right.
When players are interviewed you can clearly see this new belief, “This seems an impossible situation, what will you do,” the captain was asked. “The only thing we know what to do, go for it and attack,” he replied with a smile. When you have this level of blind determination you are clearly stacking the odds in your favour. If you truly believe that you can do it then you’ve already won half the battle.
And they have promised that win, lose or draw that they will not change their attitude.
So determination in harmony with stubbornness, a winning formula. The first time they tried this new way that beat the current best cricket team in the world, New Zealand, in all three matches of a three-match series. Only the weather nearly beat them.
The one frustration is the weather. And as I sit in a pool of sweat as yet another heat wave hits Dubrovnik it is weird to hear the thunder of rain from an English cricket ground. “What’s your least favourite time of the year in the city,” a French journalist recently asked. He was probably thinking I’d answer one of the wet and windy winter months, so his eyebrows raised as I answered July and August. The heat can quickly become unbearable, which I know sounds strange coming from an Englishman.
However, the mid-summer is also the middle of the cricket season, so I’ll be hiding from the sun with my radio on full blast following every high and low. And if you see my punching the air in my car as I wait in yet another Dubrovnik traffic jam, don’t worry, it will just be a cricket related celebration.
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to