Friday, 6 June 2014

Column 14, 2014 – Let me tell you a story...

Printed in The Cricket Paper issue 86, Friday June 6, 2014.
[Full text below]

A couple of summers ago I was having a beer in Salisbury with a few cricket buddies. The New Inn has an outside fire pit, sort of a cross between an open fire and a bonfire, which lends conversations around it an appealing, ‘gather round’ storyteller type vibe. Anyway we were talking cricket, inevitably, when someone from outside our little party chimed in with a cricket story of their own.

It turns out that The New Inn runs a friendly cricket team, and the story he was telling concerned the derring-do of some young Aussie kid who was over for the season. This kid was contracted to South Wilts, and was casting around for any cricket at all when he wasn’t engaged with them. So he’d turned out for the pub.

We all leaned in around the fire to hear the tall tales of houses being cleared, and the look on old whasisname’s face when he stuck one in the field beyond the river, etc. The conclusion of this story was that apparently this kid was playing the T20s for Hampshire.

What did you say his name was? Greg something? No: Glen. Glen Something.

A month or so later we were at the Rose Bowl to witness Glen Something – tall and whip-thin, looking hungover and in need of a shave and a square meal – get out cheaply and have his off-breaks tonked all over Hedge End.

Another maybe-kid found wanting at the next level up? Well, hang on. Don’t go to the bar yet. The story’s about to get good.

In February last year, he’d just got out for a golden duck and was busy kicking the furniture at the back of the changing room, when Michael Clarke broke the news to Glenn Maxwell that he’d topped the IPL auction at $1m, making him the most expensive cricketer in the world. Within the month he’d made his Test debut for Australia.

Fast forward a year and he still looks like a skinny kid who doesn’t get enough sleep.

But he also looks like world cricket’s form batsman. Inventive flips, outrageous scoops and reverse whatevers, effortless drives and monstrous cow corner smashes translate regularly into thirty-ball fifties or fifty-ball nineties. Despite the fizzle rather than bang he went out on, he was this year’s highlight of cricket’s own highlights package: the Indian Premier League. Few currently would bet against him following Warner’s career path from T20 upstart to destructive Test staple.

He still looks like he likes a beer, too, and could probably spin the tallest of tales around that storyteller’s campfire.

And now the IPL has crashed down from its manic sugar high, ‘Maxi’ is on his way back to play the T20s for Hampshire again. I might have to pop down for one or two, see if he can’t do better than last time. I reckon he just might.

- ends 480 words -

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