There are various theories as to why I have no hair. Some say its pattern male baldness. My wife tells me it’s excess testosterone (she’s being nice). However, I can now reveal the true reason. It’s from scratching my head after watching England’s many cricketing humiliations over the years.
It all began (for me at least) in the home Ashes series of 1989, which England somehow started as favourites. After performing adequately in the Texaco Trophy, we performed like absolute spanners in the test series. Some youngster called Steve Waugh smashed our bowlers to all parts – despite the fact that he’d been crap against everyone else at that stage of his career. We didn’t get him out until the third test. Oh dear.
The next humiliation involved Graeme Hick, a man whose failures in the test arena shattered my belief in fairytales and rendered me a lifelong cynic by the age of just fourteen. As a junior member at Worcestershire for many years, I had grown up watching Hick flay everyone who dared to bowl at him. That included a Windies attack of Marshall, Walsh, Ambrose and Patterson, who I saw Hick plunder for 172 at New Road in 1986. In the process he scored 1,000 first class runs before the end of May. He was just 20 years old at the time.
Unfortunately, my boyhood idol flopped like an inebriated groom on his wedding night when he finally played for England. The same Windies attack destroyed him during his debut series, and the Aussies, the Pakistanis (and pretty much everyone else), did exactly the same over subsequent years. I had told all my friends that Hick was England’s cricketing messiah. I don’t think I’ve regained my credibility since.
The other humiliation that’s etched in my memory, apart from the 0-5 Ashes whitewash in 2007, involved Zimbabwe under David Lloyd’s stewardship of the England team. Bumble famously claimed we had ‘flippin’ murdered them’ in a test series that finished 0-0. Zimbabwe had the last laugh when the beat us 0-3 in the subsequent ODI series. A chicken farmer called Eddo Brandes, who was famous for eating biscuits and sledging, rather than bowling, was Zimbabwe’s match winner. Robert Mugabe must have loved it.
However, of all England’s embarrassments over the years, the defeat to Ireland in the 2011 World Cup has to be the worst. The date 2nd March 2011 will go down in infamy. Yes we have excuses. We all know the team is knackered. We all know the bowlers had injuries before the World Cup so they had little time to prepare. However, only thirteen cricketers in Ireland get paid to play cricket. How many professionals are there in England?!
What makes it worse is that the Irish hate the English. We’ll never be able to live this down. Even though England cricket fans have got absolutely nothing to do with Oliver Cromwell (the bloke sounds like an egotistical self-righteous prat to me too) Irish people will rub this defeat into our noses forever. They’ll be worse than the bloody Australians in 2007.
In case you didn’t know, Worcestershire’s greatest humiliation also came at the hands of Ireland. They bowled us out for just 58 in 2009. However, at least nobody was watching when Vicram Solanki, Steve Davies, and Steve Moore raised the white flag. England’s defeat was witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people across the world … all of whom were supporting the Irish. As the fantastic musical Avenue Q makes abundantly clear, ‘it sucks to be me’ and sometimes it sucks to be English too.