AuthorBrian Penn

Safe Hands: The Wicket-Keepers of Kent

Wicket keeper is the most peculiar of field positions with the incumbent trapped in gloves and pads for the duration of a match. A functionary with a multiple brief who often has to stop things from happening.  They gather the best and worst deliveries unleashed by bowlers; prevent leg byes, overthrows and any other brain fade that might result in additional runs being conceded. A good wicket keeper could easily save his team 30 runs an innings, but it’s far from being the only string on...

Mind Over Matter: The Curse of Elite Cricket

A few years ago my employer sent everyone off on a stress awareness course; previously happy people came back as nervous wrecks because they never realised how stressed they were. In all truth we had been fooling ourselves. An increasingly hectic lifestyle was taking its toll on our mental health. The ranks of Joe Public can manage their emotional wellbeing in private, free from scrutiny and judgement. But what about elite athletes who ply their trade in the public eye, where every move is...

A Happy Accident: The Birth of the ODI

For all its unbridled beauty cricket has always been susceptible to changes in the weather. The first hint of rain would have groundsmen scrambling to cover the wicket. In a bygone era something called bad light might also stop play. Although frustrating for the players it meant fans could adjourn to the bar that much earlier. This unpredictability would often reduce the length of games but inadvertently laid the basic foundation of the one day game. Whilst an intemperate climate might have...

I Am My Father’s Son: Nature Versus Nurture

As we grow, our parents assume hero status in an exciting and challenging new life. But how does that dynamic change when our parents are also sporting heroes known to millions across the globe? Cricket has a steady stream of sons who have matched their fathers at test level. Many have exceeded their achievements in the test arena. But what forces are at play here; is it simply a repeating genetic pattern or the hothouse environment stimulated by a talented role model? The nature versus nurture...

Test Status: From Closed Shop to Open House

For a sport drenched in tradition and eccentricity, cricket never fails to disappoint. Awarding Test status is now riddled with inconsistency and a well-meaning but misguided tilt at diversity. This most elite of sporting clubs began by stealth when England played Australia in the first ever Test match in 1877. The Poms and Aussies had joined a club that hadn’t yet been formed but the building blocks had been laid. South Africa joined in 1889 when they played England at Port Elizabeth. The...

South Africa ’76: What Might Have Been?

The long hot summer of 1976 saw the Montreal Olympics, Bjorn Borg win Wimbledon for the first time and Johnny Miller clinch the British Open title. It also witnessed England’s mauling by the West Indies with a rich seam of talented cricketers. A 3-0 series defeat somewhat flattered England as Viv Richards smashed 291 at the Oval. However, what might a South African test side have achieved at this time? The Proteas had already been in exile for six years as the apartheid regime continued to...

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