The Peerless Pleasures & Quiet Indignities of Test Cricket

All elections should be snap elections.

The less time politicians have to ‘lay out their vision’, the more time they have to do the job they’re paid to do: collect tax, spend tax, try not to make a hash of it. Watching a Question Time panel of three-button-cuff parliamentarians banging on about ‘difficult decisions’ and saying nothing of any substance whatsoever can get old rather quickly; even if one makes it to the bit at the end when Dimbleby says that they’re filming in Wherever-on-Sea next week, all one has really gathered is that, by and large, the pompous pettifoggers on stage all claim to be in favour of good things and not in favour of bad things.

No, the sooner we can resolve this not-quite-glorified HR shake-up the sooner we can get back to important business of thinking how glorious it will be to snooze in a sunbeam with Test Match Special on in the background.

A handful of one day internationals, the odd Twenty20 slogathon and then the thrills and spills of test series against South Africa and the West Indies. Set aside the first few pages of the ‘paper and suddenly it’s clear that these are Great Days in which to live. Ranked number four in the world, England – under a new captain – are a slightly unknown quantity, just as one would hope. Jolly well done if they win, jolly well played if they put up a good fight, jolly well ought to flogged if they wash out completely. And in amongst all the soporific chit-chat, the minute descriptions of cake, occasional ornithological tidbit and the endless hypothesising over the mysteries of reverse swing, you get a gem like this one from 25 years ago, when England were facing the West Indies at the Oval and Botham, bless him, couldn’t quite get his leg over: