A Letter From New Jersey

Dear Fellow Outside Cricketers,

I am so sorry you have not heard from me, via a post, for quite a while. As some of you may know my mother-in-law was taken seriously ill in early January which meant my wife had to fly out to be with her, and I’ve come over to lend support etc. for a couple of weeks. This has meant that there won’t be a holiday this year, which means I won’t be disappearing off the site for a whole month or so when the cricket season is in full swing in the UK, but it has meant not a lot from me, save for the odd comment here and there on here. As always Chris and Sean have kept the pot boiling, and, of course, the brilliant guest posts we get too!

It also means that the only ball I have seen of any cricket was a catch by Saha on one of ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day segments. This was, sadly, characterised by the usual lack of knowledge from the hosts who said that India lost anyway, which was incorrect at the time because this was on Day 2 of that test match. Or maybe they had a premonition that a team unbeatable at home were going to stuff it up completely second time around, as they had the first. But a little more of that later on.

On the personal front, the mother-in-law is recuperating in a very decent care facility. The main problem with this is it is 90 miles away from her house, where we are staying, so we are seeing a lot of New Jersey’s road network and I’ve not had a ton of time to devote to cricket. I could write many a post on the plusses and minuses of US healthcare, but that’s for another time. We hope the mother-in-law comes home shortly after I return to the UK (next week), but that’s not entirely clear at this point. I’ve had some down time, and this has coincided with record high February temperatures last week (mid 70s fahrenheit), so I can let you all know that on the same day as Storm Doris, here is a picture of where I was in 75 degree heat..

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East Point Lighthouse – New Jersey

So what has happened in the cricket world since I left? Well, of course, most notably, Australia handed India a hell of a thrashing in Pune. I’ve seen none of it, but it is not hard to draw one conclusion – we were handed a pup by all the know it alls who said that India were unbeatable on their home turf, and that 4-0 was a result we really all should have expected. I’m not saying this now, I was saying it then. You talk down a “potentially great” England team like that, you are going to look stupid when another team gives them a game. A proper game. Rajkot should not have been an outlier, but the standard. The ultimate stain on that team, and that leadership, is that a bloke scored 303 for India against them and was dropped the next match. Karun Nair sits there as a total outlier when it comes to test triple centurions. I’m sure history will frame things differently, but the Tendulkars, Dravids and Gavaskars of this world have not made 300. I’m sure they found M25 surfaces somewhere, somehow, in their time in test cricket (and of course, lets not forget England collapsed in a heap on that Chennai surface the following day).

Australia, of course, were a dead team walking after they’d lost the first two tests against South Africa, and the pundits were on BT Sport having a good old laugh, giving the impression that all England had to do next year is show up and the Ashes would safely remain in out hands. I have my own nickname for Australia, and it is the cockroaches. Not because they are vermin, but because when you think you’ve killed them off, that they won’t return, that you are on top of the “problem”, they pop back up again, and return with a vengeance (this is based on my childhood in a tower block in Deptford – we could not shift those bastards. Cockroaches, not Australians). I will never write that country’s cricketers off. They may go on to lose the series, but Australia showed that they would stand up to India. It wasn’t just getting the best of the wicket, because Australia made 200+ after India were dismissed for 105. No-one is seriously claiming that Nathan Lyon is better in India than Ravi Ashwin, or that Steve O’Keefe is better than Jadeja? Are they? It may be, as I’ve not seen the game, that the pitch suited the Aussies better than expected, but it also show some bloody character in the Aussie make-up that we just excused in the English press prior to Christmas. Of course, let us see how the rest of the series pans out. I’m also keen on not jumping the gun and anointing a team a champion on one result, but you have to admit that this doesn’t cast our media’s supine attitude to the Cook Farewell Tour in a wonderful light thus far, does it?

I’ve not really followed the ODI series in New Zealand at all, if truth be told. I also note England are out in the West Indies, in my time zone (sort of) but there will be little chance of seeing anything until I get home. In the following six days I will have at least three, possibly four visits to the care home, which takes out the entire day, and when I do get home there will be some really good NBA games to watch live at a sociable hour, including the Warriors at the Bulls on Thursday. US sports TV is an interesting behemoth to study, with the amount of talk programming, and “embrace debate” stuff that can lurch from totally perceptive to utterly idiotic within a five minute span. It’s also interesting how much football from England we can get on main sports channels. I was in the care home last week with the Watford v West Ham match on.  I couldn’t see the League Cup Final as that was on a less mainstream cable channel (BeIN). Cricket, of course, doesn’t get a sniff anywhere as far as I can see. I sort of know the horror I will face if I ever emigrate.

New Jersey is my second home now, and yet cricket has a part to play in keeping me from it. I would miss not being able to see matches that I want to pay for via some all embracing website that would allow me to do so in one central location – like the US do on NBA, MLB and to a lesser extent NFL – but as I’ve said before, that would require foresight, prescience, vision, altruism and a price set fairly for all. I’ve as much chance of becoming Donald Trump’s Press Secretary than that happening.

Finally, I packed the edition of the Cricketer with the Paul Downton interview in it. I really must finish that piece. I just need to get angry again. Any suggestions.

All the best from South Jersey. Missing England…

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Wish you were here,

Dmitri

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