‘Shh! Cricket!’ my grandfather Ken Delingpole used to say whenever the cricket came on the wireless. It was a family joke, indicative of just how boring Delingpoles all found the world’s most boring game.
But then my father bred with a Price and the Prices are the exact opposite — county squash and tennis players, decent golfers, sporting nuts. As a result I’ve spent my whole life being torn apart by contradictory genes: crap at throwing, hitting, kicking and catching, but always well up for a game of tennis, footie, badders, squash, ping-pong, rounders…; very sniffy about people who talk sport all the time but — in secret — totally glued to the TV whenever a golf Major is on, or Chelsea are playing.
It’s the same with cricket. Though it’s about the one game I hate playing (horrid hard ball; your team getting cross when you don’t catch the horrid, hard ball as it plummets terrifyingly from really high; being bowled out before you’ve had a chance to settle in; the hay fever; never being asked to bowl), I’m still quite jealous of those tedious spods in stripey-banded panamas who know everything there is to know about W.G. Grace and Harold Larwood and Jack Hobbs and Bodyline.
So I was grateful for Empire of Cricket (BBC2, Sunday) for filling in a few gaps… (to read more, click here.)