The Lord’s Mayor – A Pantomime for every Tom, Dick and Harri(son).

Tom Whittington sat at home, gazing around at the room, contemplating his existence.  His faithful cat, Mary Le Bone washed herself in the corner, content with the world, and oblivious to Tom’s plotting.  A poor orphan boy, believed to be Harri’s son, he was sure there was more to life than this.  He had heard tales of untold riches to be found in that there London, where the pitches were paved with gold, and where a bright boy could make his fortune.  He was determined that if the chance came along, he would go to London, where he could dig up the pitches and take enough gold to be forever wealthy.

One day, a county trundler passed by.  Tom called out to him, asking where he was going.  “To London”, came the answer.  “I’ve been doing this for years, following the same line and length each time”.  Tom hopped aboard, with Mary Le Bone following him and as they passed the fields and greens of England, Tom was sure he could make a difference, looking with disdain at all around him and thinking about real estate opportunities.  When they reached London, Tom was amazed – he could see wealth and affluence, but even as he went through St John’s Wood, nowhere could he see pitches lined with gold, although he could see concession stalls with astonishingly high prices.  “Whatever am I to do?” he cried, seeing no way he could make his fortune, for he could not even see how he could make enough money to eat – especially at those prices.

After a few days, exhausted and hungry, he collapsed on the doorstep of a rich merchant’s house, at number 100 on the street.  Despite his condition, the germ of an idea came into his head, unbidden, not obvious even to him, but a possibility, a chance…

“Be off with you, you ragamuffin” cried The Cook upon spying him, with a failed attempt at a sweep to move him off the step.  At that moment the merchant, Liveon Skye, returned.  Taking pity on poor Tom he ordered his buttler to carry him into his house, Mary sneaking in behind him.  Given a job in the kitchens, he realised Skye was incredibly wealthy, even though hardly anyone saw what he did.  The house was plagued by rats and mice, but Tom, in his small room had Mary for company.  Mary Le Bone was a very special cat, she kept his room free of rodents, she was loved by all who saw her, and she protected Tom, nurtured him and provided him with a safe place to sleep.  But instead of appreciating her, Tom felt she was in the way, and that all those who loved her weren’t important, and nor were their views.  He thought only in terms of what the cat might be able to do for him in future: the cat was a barrier to riches, not a gift to be cherished.

Not long after, the merchant announced he would be embarking on a long voyage, and asked all the staff if they had anything that they would like to send on board for him to sell.  “Please sir, will you take my cat?”.  Everyone was horrified, for the cat had been nothing but a servant to Tom, but the merchant smiled, sure he could somehow make something out of Mary, even if no one else could see it, even if it meant sacrificing all they held dear.

With Mary Le Bone gone, Tom’s life was plagued by the rats and mice, plus endless football in the street, but he didn’t feel sad, he blamed the cat for abandoning him for failing to live up to what was needed in the modern world.  Tom wasn’t a thoughtful or grateful man.  Clearly Mary had done nothing for him, and he had no use for her in future.  Tom decided to run away, for even the Cook had turned against him, and was now demanding to be called “sir”.

As he left the house, he heard the church bells ring, and they seemed to be speaking to him. “Turn again, Tom Whittington, turn again and again with more ideas, no matter how daft they sound.  Lords Mayor of London is your destiny and not even a leg before can stop you”.

“Goodness me”, Tom thought – if I am to be Lord’s Mayor then surely I can put up with a few rats, even if Mary has abandoned me”.  Back he went inside, determined to show the Cook that there was more to be done than just the traditional way of things.

Across the other side of the world, in India where the pitches truly were paved with gold, the merchant had arrived.  He sent gifts of food to King Kohli, but as soon as the food was presented, a plague of rats descended and gobbled it all up.  Seeing an opportunity, Skye told the king that he had a very special cat, a very traditional cat, who could help.  Sure enough, Mary cleansed the pavilion of rats, as she always had.  The king cried out with gratitude, asking the merchant what would he desire for such a gift.  The merchant thought about it, deciding that a Hundred balls of gold would be the price, certain he could make use of that back home.

Upon his return, greeted by thousands of mums and kids who had appeared from nowhere, Tom was overjoyed to see the sale of his cat had produced such riches.  He bought a fine new house, never once thinking of the cat who had helped him or what became of her, but instead buying a golden goose with some of the proceeds.  Killed it, naturally.  And Tom lived happily ever after, even if everyone else lamented the loss of Mary.  But as Tom said to himself, really, who cares about the cat?

The End.  Because it probably is.

Merry Christmas from Chris, Peter, Sean and Danny at Being Outside Cricket, and my thanks to the World Stories website for providing unwitting help with the story.  You can read their real version here

Because I’m not Ed Smith.



40 thoughts on “The Lord’s Mayor – A Pantomime for every Tom, Dick and Harri(son).

  1. jennyah46 Dec 22, 2018 / 3:14 pm

    This is absolutely wonderful Chris. I was entranced. It was so entertaining and so apt. I think you have missed your calling in life. You make a great story teller. Thanks for this. It made my day.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Narelle Dec 22, 2018 / 7:44 pm

    You Poms all say Australian cricket is a mess, but we can go up. Not sure where England’s cricket can go if the hundred is their best way to go.

    Merry Christmas to the team of writers. May the New Year bring you strength to continue your excellent work. Maybe the ECB will find a new gem to inspire you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. thebogfather Dec 24, 2018 / 12:48 pm

    Wonderful imagery – just as Tom DICK Harrison has come out of the cupboard with an interview/corporate bollockspeak/pile of ECB fantasyworld tosh.

    Have a wonderfully ECB free few days, and a very merry xmas all!


  4. Zephirine Dec 24, 2018 / 2:27 pm

    An excellent pantomime, oh yes it is!

    Looking forward to the ECB’s re-branding of French Cricket as Britkrik (TM) and the introduction of a new Britkrik Championship with matches limited to 30 minutes per innings and a variety of attractive corporate hospitality packages.

    Happy Christmas to all and many thanks for the blog!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 25, 2018 / 9:38 am

    As it is Christmas Day we have to bow down and wish the saviour a happy birthday….so therefore happy birthday Alastair!

    In all seriousness happy Christmas to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mdpayne87 Dec 25, 2018 / 4:58 pm

      More Test runs scored for England by players born on Christmas Day than any other day. Well done Alistair… and Marcus Trescothick of course!


  6. Northern Light Dec 25, 2018 / 11:48 pm

    Merry Christmas to all who contribute to the blog – an island of sanity in an increasingly crazy world. I hope the Three Amigos who put the majority of the work in hosting and posting know how much we all appreciate the hard work that it must take. Even a labour of love is still a labour, and cricket is so much harder to love these days, is it not?
    But all the best to everyone. Here’s to an improved 2019.
    I’m sure I said much the same last year 🙂


  7. Grenville Dec 26, 2018 / 12:23 am

    Happy Christmas all of you. Thank you for all the wonderful ideas, the posts, the comments, all of it really.

    Thought for 2019, the ECB want the hundred because they need something on free to air that isn’t 20:20, well, they should just put the county championship on the box. It is well loved by the fans, not the bastard child of Simon Hughes and Tom Harrison, and is unloved by Sky.

    I might just start a campaign

    Liked by 1 person

  8. d'Arthez Dec 26, 2018 / 6:25 am

    Merry Christmas to you all.
    Can someone please explain how come no one is complaining about the obvious pitch doctoring that is going on in Australia? The third Test in a row, where the side batting first will struggle to score at 3 / over for an entire innings, on Day 1 (not even at 2.5 / over in the first 80 overs). I have not bothered to check the stats, but this could well be the series with the slowest scoring rate in Australia in the last 30 years. I am getting the impression CA wants the BCCI to win.
    So, my guess is toss wins the series 4-0. How exciting. At this rate T20s are the future, solely because the toss does not dictate the outcome of the game as much as it does in Tests. Joy.
    At the rate the governing body is destroying the game, even lawn bowls (nothing against the sport, but it does not strike me as one where people involved go ballistic about it) will be more exciting in 5 years.


    • Grenville Dec 26, 2018 / 10:21 am

      I think that I disagree. It seems to me that groundstaff are producing result wickets. That means having something in it for the bowlers. I think it makes for more interesting cricket. It does mean that batting first is a massive advantage because you can score runs in the third innings but chasing anything more than 180 is a tough ask. It is making the toss too important.

      What we do seem to have lost is hard, quick wickets with true bounce. This is a shame because I think that cricket is best on a hard, true surface. It is all about skill on those surfaces.


      • d'Arthez Dec 26, 2018 / 7:45 pm

        The traditional Australian wickets were / are results wickets.
        Not many draws in Australia in the last decade. Since the 2010/2011 Ashes, India had 2 (and lost 6), England had 1 (and lost 9), South Africa had 2 (and won 3, lost 1), New Zealand had 1 and West Indies had 1 (but that was due to 3+ days of rain). Out of about 40 games that must have been played since then. That is a low draw rate, which compares favourable to any other place in the world, except for South Africa only 4 draws in 37 completed games (with 2 of those completely ruined by the weather, 1 being on an absolute road against England, and the nearly 450-chase against India in 2013).
        Also since that time it hardly mattered for Australia if they won or lost the toss (except when they played South Africa). They pretty much won most games, regardless of toss result. Same was true for India in India.
        These are win toss = win game wickets. If Kohli wins the next toss, might as well give him man of the series, in similar vein to Joe Root in Sri Lanka for his pre-match performances.


        • Grenville Dec 26, 2018 / 11:29 pm

          Interesting stuff… I don’t disagree that the toss is becoming too important. I guess that I don’t see it as trying to gain home advantage, a la some of the truly awful green seamers England have served up to cover their shortcomings in the seasons before this one. It doesn’t favour the home side, it favours whoever wins the toss. I do think think that it is about trying to avoid slow, turgid cricket coupled with an inability to create real, hard, true flyers (drop-in pitches? Drainage? Climate change? Stupidity?). To make sure that the crowd goes ‘ohhh’, pitches are being prepared where 280-320 is par for the first dig. That’s giving the toss winner a crazy advantage.

          On another note, I’m not sure that this decade has seen pitches that are what the old-timers think of as ‘typical’, but that’s probably just nostaligia


          • d'Arthez Dec 27, 2018 / 4:49 am

            Australia in the last decade was not exactly known for its slow turgid pitches. Nor were the results of the Australian team on their own wickets that bad (7 draws, 3 losses to South Africa, and nearly 30 wins since 2010/2011). They only lost Tests to South Africa in 7+ years (since England humiliated them in 2010/2011), so it is not like the bowlers and batsmen struggled too much.
            To suddenly have three pitches like this in a row can’t be just a coincidence. It must be deliberate. But why should fans bother with Test cricket if the game has basically been played (in terms of outcome), before the players even enter the field? This will be eventually used as yet another argument to shorten Test cricket, before doing away with it altogether.
            I agree with that other note of yours.
            In the 1970s and 1980s, runrates in Australia were about 2.7. Only in Pakistan did they top 3 in the 1970s (3.06). They increased somewhat in the 1980s, seem to have stagnated in the 1990s, and exploded in the 2000s. with the lowest runs / overrate in the traditional 8 places where Test cricket being played was West Indies 3.02. The highest was 3.73 in Australia.
            And note that the figure for the 2000s was even before the real advent of T20. They have since declined a little bit (by roughly 0.10 runs / over, but they are still historically high).
            However, if you look at outcomes of games by toss result, toss results hardly seem to have mattered in the 1980s in the West Indies and Pakistan, and in other places it does not seem to have been that a decisive advantage or disadvantage.
            In other words, even if the scoring rates in these Tests are similar to the 1980s, outcomes by toss result are heavily skewed in one direction, with teams struggling to overcome the toss, including the home side (this is most starkly evident in Sri Lanka). Batsmen and bowlers don’t become significantly better or worse depending on the toss result – it is just that they face significantly better / worse conditions to play in as a result of the toss.
            That is not exciting, that is fixed with the ICC’s blessing.


          • Mark Dec 27, 2018 / 9:57 am

            I wonder if run rates dipped in the 1990s because of the quality of bowling attacks around the world? I maintain that batsman of that era had a much tougher time than the current bunch. Pakistan had two great opening bowlers, The WI still had Ambrose & Walsh. In Aus you had the coming of Warne & McGrath. SA had Donald & Pollock. And Sri Lanka had Murali.

            There was little rest-bite for batsman whoever you were playing.

            The other factor is the percentage of test matches won by the home side increased through the decades. As 20/20 arrived tours were cut shorter and shorter so teams just flew in and out with little warm up time.

            It will be interesting to see if the toss becomes all important in more away wins. To do that though the away captain will have to win the majority of the tosses in the series. If your theory is right.


          • d'Arthez Dec 27, 2018 / 11:40 am

            Mark, it is really hard to gauge what the cause and effects are. These are overall runrates (across all four innings), against all opposition. I have not checked for the 70s and 60s, but I know that especially in the 60s draw rates were extremely high (bowlers were economical, eg. Sobers, but with terrible strike rates (Sobers was striking once every 15 overs, for a bowling average slightly above 30). Scoring at 2 / an over may simply be a pitch being demanding, but it may also be a matter of low risk cricket being played. And in the 60s it was mostly the latter.
            Game situations obviously affect those figures as well. We’re talking about dozens of games in each region, and the game situation may on occasion simply have demanded batting out time. And thus that runrates were completely irrelevant. And at other times there might have been a target of say 120 in 25 overs, which may have resulted in some extravagant batting (Greenidge’s carnage at Lord’s 1984 springs to mind). Thus these figures always have to be taken with a pinch of salt.
            What the stats do seem to suggest, is that after 2000 runrates picked up. Partly influenced by the ODI game (the World Cup Sri Lanka won must have played its part, also a batsman like Sehwag), but also by a starting decrease in quality of bowling attacks. West Indies, and Zimbabwe deteriorating, and Bangladesh struggling massively spring to mind.
            I am sure that pitches have to be considered as well. Drop in pitches might
            At the moment, judging by runrates in the first innings of every Test in a series thus far, this is the the second slowest series in Australia since 2000 (behind New Zealand 2008/09, but there had been major weather issues then, especially before the Brisbane Test). That is out of 35 series played (I might have miscounted), this is the second slowest series in Australia since 2000.
            In this decade only the 2010/11 and 2017/18 Ashes have had average runrates below three in the first innings of the Tests.
            Something simply does not add up.


          • d'Arthez Dec 27, 2018 / 11:47 am

            Well, barring two brain fades in England in the Pakistan series (earlier this year), when toss lost both games, toss has won 4-0 when England played South Africa, toss won 4-1 against India (and everyone was arguing Root made the wrong call at the toss in the game England lost).
            Toss seems to be heading 3-0 in Australia.
            Toss won 3-0 in UAE (when New Zealand played Pakistan). Toss always wins in Sri Lanka, barring incompetent umpires, or the home side having a really bad day at the office. Winning the toss makes it more than 3 times as likely that you win than lose in Sri Lanka since 2011! Further evidence is that Sri Lanka does not have a winning record against ANY major team since 2011 when they have lost the toss. That is pretty much unheard of in the rest of the cricketing world.
            I am not sure when New Zealand are supposed to be touring Sri Lanka again, but I am sure that if they win the tosses, they will win the series.


          • Grenville Dec 27, 2018 / 1:03 pm

            I’m interested that historically the toss hasn’t been so important. I couldn’t work out how to get stats guru to give me the figures Batting first just seems like a big advantage. Scoring 300 in third innings seems standard, but 220 is a big ask in the 4th, to win batting second you’re going to need to lead by 80 odd.

            More interesting to me though is what you think is going on. Do you think that it is home teams doctoring pitches in the hope that they win the toss or do you think that it is ICC led and the plan is to bring in 4 day cricket? The latter sort of makes sense, you have low scoring games on dodgy pitches. They are over quickly and batsman start to become more aggressive, it’s the best form of defence when one has your name on it.

            I think that what has happened is simply that pitches are either slow low and boring or unfairly treacherous. Asian pitches have always had that issue. For some reason the rest of the world has developed the same problem.


          • d'Arthez Dec 27, 2018 / 2:55 pm

            Historically the toss has not been that important. Sure, it helps to win it, but by no means was the team that lost the toss, fighting for the draw from the get-go.
            I think there are two different circumstances leading to these pitches. In places like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the home teams are pretty competitive if they win the toss on their pitches, but they struggle if they lose the toss. But that is true no matter what the pitch is like, so might as well doctor it, to ensure an even bigger advantage when they do win the toss. That is why of the last 18 Tests in Sri Lanka, toss won 16, and lost 2. And one of those losses was due to an incompetent umpire – and all those 18 Tests, it was batting first. That is getting into statistically highly improbable territories.
            As for the doctoring of pitches. It absolutely makes no sense for Australia – as stated, the stats suggest that they simply defeat whoever comes to their shores (with the exception of South Africa). The same applies to the other teams that are traditionally good at home (India; South Africa and England to a lesser extent). And yet, we can all cite a few examples of it happening.
            I think there is misguided logic at work here from the national boards. That could manifest itself in two ways: pitch doctoring to extend the advantage, or pitch doctoring to make series more “interesting”. We all remember the curator of Chennai boasting how he had neutered the Australian bowling attack in 2013 (homework gate series). But it is certainly not just India. The virus seems to be pretty much global now. We are seeing it pretty much everywhere now. As for the latter, we are seeing a situation where the away team has to pretty much win the toss to stand a chance of being competitive.
            Interestingly, I have seen no evidence whatsoever of it happening in New Zealand. But New Zealand are pretty much unbeatable at home if they win the toss. It is just that they have tossed badly against South Africa and Australia, otherwise they would have been unbeaten at home this decade.
            I really don’t think it is climate change. Yes, it is definitely a factor. But it should not affect all pitches around the world equally. Nor should it be impossible for the groundsmen to make the necessary adjustments, based on experience.
            All in all, the stats really suggest that winning the toss is just too darn important these days.


          • Grenville Dec 27, 2018 / 11:21 pm

            I am equally convinced that the toss has become too important. I am also interested in what you think is behind that change. If I have you right, you think that it is a confluence of ‘let’s make sure we have a spectacle’ and, ‘christ, we’ll lose if we lose the toss anyway and winning it isn’t much help, so we better stack the odds and hope the coin comes down for us’.

            I don’t know what I think. I tend to the former, I think. I do also think that something has changed in pitch preparation/what’s possible. Surfaces seem more tired everywhere.


        • d'Arthez Dec 28, 2018 / 4:15 am

          Surfaces definitely seem more tired. But that is a problem that existed across ages, and has been dealt with from time to time. And yet what we are seeing happens everywhere in the world.
          Maybe in places like West Indies and South Africa (and pretty much everywhere else where they are forced to play in the middle of winter), that might mean there is not enough time to relay pitches etc. But that still does not explain why it is also a feature in Australia and England.
          Also, the groundsmen do not seem to struggle to produce 350+ wickets for ODIs. Sure if ODIs were restricted to 200 = par (which are usually quite interesting to watch), then I’d be more inclined to think this is beyond groundsmen. But that is clearly not the case. So we end up with boring ODIs and boring Tests, because they more or less end up using the wrong pitch for each game (not entirely true, even the ODI wickets would be bad for Tests as that could lead to 700 plays 700 draws).
          Toss leads by 298 runs, with 3 wickets left in the reply in Australia. Utterly exciting. Utterly predictable.


  9. d'Arthez Dec 28, 2018 / 4:49 am

    Toss leads by 292 runs after the first innings. If that does not get eye balls glued to the screen, nothing will.


  10. d'Arthez Dec 28, 2018 / 6:53 am

    The pitch in Australia is so great, that we’re now having declaration batting. At under 2 runs per over.
    Oh, at the moment the series runrate is 2.61, about 15% slower than the next slowest series (the 2017/2018 Ashes). Those are the only series with runrates of less than 3 this century.
    If you include the 1990s, three other series had lower runrates. Two of those involved South Africa (1993/94, 1997/98), and one involved Pakistan (1989/90). Which one imagines to have had slightly more fearful bowling attacks on both sides than the current series.


  11. MM Dec 28, 2018 / 11:42 pm

    Knighthood for guess who.


    • thelegglance Dec 28, 2018 / 11:47 pm

      For services to the establishment. And totally deserved of course.


      • pktroll (@pktroll) Dec 29, 2018 / 8:58 am

        I really struggle to care or more realistically I actually don’t give a f**k. No fan of honours system or monarchy and even less of the establishment per se. Therefore all those wanting to shove it down our throats are wasting their time.

        Liked by 2 people

    • Rohan Dec 29, 2018 / 1:11 pm

      Arguably our greatest cricketer ever, who has raised 10s of millions of pounds for leukaemia charities, was not knighted until he was 51, 2007. That was only after a long career and a huge amount of charity work post career as well as commentating etc. just saying, that’s all……….

      Liked by 2 people

  12. thebogfather Dec 29, 2018 / 7:03 am

    But who leaked this glorious news all those weeks ago…?


    • Mark Dec 29, 2018 / 10:27 am

      How appropriate that it leaked out!!!

      This reflects, and mirrors his entire period as captain. Which was defined by endless media leaks about him, team selection, which players had, had their cards marked, and which players were not pleasing the boy King.

      A fitting end to one of the most toe curling periods of brown nosing In English cricket history.

      And the media gets to make fools of themselves one last time, and stand outside The Palace gates like prepubescent school girls waving at their favourate nonentity pop star.

      Love him or loathe him Ian Botham has to wait decades for his gong, and he had to walk thousands of miles for charity. What’s this turd done?

      Liked by 1 person

      • thelegglance Dec 29, 2018 / 10:43 am

        I’m assuming that it’ll be Sir James Anderson when he calls it a day. Or is he too northern and working class? It’ll be interesting to see.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Rohan Dec 29, 2018 / 1:14 pm

          Good call TLG, equally as deserving as Cook (not that I think he warrants it), if he has one, Jimmy should as well! Watch this space…..


        • oreston Dec 29, 2018 / 1:54 pm

          But, but… he’s a BOWLER, for heaven’s sake! A knighthood? He should be grateful that his betters ever gave him the opportunity to escape the colliery. Good grief, next you’ll be making the invidious suggestion that we dole out gongs to our Antipodean cousins, no doubt based on “merit” or some such progressive poppycock. Hadlee I could sort of understand but he and The Don are the exceptions that prove the rule. Anyway, bloody convicts would’ve burned down the Governor General’s residence if we hadn’t humoured Bradman with a dubbing. Of course all those runs didn’t make him a proper gentleman, you understand…


          • thelegglance Dec 29, 2018 / 2:02 pm

            Hadlee and Bradman were awarded knighthood by their own governments not ours. They obviously have the Queen as head of state and are entitled to issue them.


          • oreston Dec 29, 2018 / 4:27 pm

            I would’ve thought it was fairly obvious that I was attempting to be satirical. Oh well, never mind.


    • Zephirine Dec 29, 2018 / 12:36 pm

      Funny thing is, had KP not been thrown under the bus, I’m pretty sure he would hold most if not all of Sir Alistair’s records.
      Yes, funny that.

      Was the knighthood “for services to marketing and having nothing to do with the IPL”? Well, who cares. They can give him whatever title they like, he still won’t be interesting except as a phenomenon of persistently stage-managed perceptions.

      I just hope he doesn’t feel entitled to take over one of the administrator jobs when he eventually stops playing. The game’s in enough trouble as it is.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rohan Dec 29, 2018 / 1:21 pm

      Oh no! That is sad, poor guy and his kids. Puts things into perspective. Forget Cook and rally round Strauss. Very sad……

      Liked by 1 person

    • oreston Dec 29, 2018 / 1:56 pm

      Yes, terribly sad news.


    • Zephirine Dec 29, 2018 / 2:22 pm

      46, my God, it’s no age to go. Poor Strauss, poor kids.


  13. MM Dec 29, 2018 / 1:51 pm

    Yep, dreadful stuff. Peace and best wishes to them.


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