Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Cricket, for Many Years, Has Wanted to Be More like Football. (Sport)

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Cricket, for Many Years, Has Wanted to Be More like Football. (Sport)

Article excerpt

I received an e-mail this week from someone called Mark Lynas. Mr Lynas is an environmental activist and also what you might call a pie-thrower. By which I mean, he is not a medium-paced bowler, trundling around the county circuit for one of our less successful sides, but the real thing. He actually throws pies. Most notoriously, he threw a pie at Bjorn Lomborg during a bookshop reading in Oxford.

You see, he liked neither Lomborg nor his book The Skeptical Environmentalist. Nor did Lynas much care for my recent New Statesman article ("The man who demanded a recount", 30 June) about Lomborg, in which I questioned the righteous certainties of so many green activists, many of whom are toffs who have little understanding that the traditional left, pre-eminently concerned with issues of equity and the fundamental needs of the urban poor, were always enthusiastic polluters. He signed off by advising that, in future, I should restrict myself to cricket.

Now, I had been planning to write about Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire who has just taken control of Chelsea Football Club in one of the most sensational pieces of football business that I can remember. With his improbable wealth and limitless desire, Abramovich may well, if rumours about his wish to transform Chelsea into one of the world's great clubs are true, make the house that Jack Walker built at Blackburn Rovers appear very small indeed, a mere bungalow when set against his London mansion of colossal dimensions.

But enough of our Russian friend, from whom no doubt we shall be hearing much more in the months ahead. I shall, if only to please Mr Lynas, stick to cricket. This has been a strange season so far, a season of innovation, if the marketing men are to be believed, in which English cricket has embraced the 20-over game. Indeed, apart from two rather mediocre Test matches against an unhappy Zimbabwe side, the entire summer so far has been given over to the truncated form of the game. First Pakistan and now Zimbabwe (yes, again) and South Africa: England have had plenty of opportunity to demonstrate just what an inconsistent one-day side they are and just what a non-event so much one-day cricket can be. …

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