Friday, 17 April 2015

Column 10, 2015 – Eyes on the prize

Printed in The Cricket Paper, issue 113, Friday April 17, 2015.
[Full text below]

Garrard & Co are high-end jewellers based in Mayfair. The oldest jewellery house in the world, they specialise in ‘unique creations’ and ‘bespoke services’ such as the Crown of Queen Elizabeth, featuring the Koh-i-Noor diamond. They are not messing around.

This was the firm commissioned by the ICC to create the World Cup. Two feet high in solid gold and silver, it features a golden globe held aloft by three silver columns, (which apparently represent batting, bowling and fielding,) shaped as stumps topped with bails, while the globe doubles as a ball, the seam angled to represent earth’s axial tilt.

It has, perhaps unsurprisingly as it is the ICC’s new home, a whiff of Dubai’s gaudy ostentation about it, but it’s kind of fittingly over the top. It is the World Cup, after all.

The Division One trophy of our midweek league is a solid silver antique, so valuable that recent winners have been unwilling to display it, as their insurance wouldn’t cover it.

Cricket’s – perhaps sport’s – most famous trophy will be contested again this summer. The myth, legend and romance surrounding that little four-inch perfume bottle is very much a part of what makes The Ashes special.

Following the famous mock obituary for English cricket published in The Sporting Times the previous summer, legend has it that it contains the remains of a burnt bail, and was presented to England captain Ivo Bligh at the Rupertswood estate near Melbourne where he was a guest during England’s 1882-83 tour of Australia. It was, basically, an in-joke about England being rubbish, started by the English press and perpetuated by grinning Aussies. In that respect nothing much has changed. Since Bligh’s death it’s been at Lord’s, where it remains the biggest draw at the museum.

Whatever else they are, trophies are important. Or at least, what they represent is important, and this is reflected in the items themselves.

At our club presentation night, the one everyone wants is the Player’s Player. If your teammates vote for you, you know you’ve done all right. There are other trophies too, from the hotly contested Duck Pond award for most ducks (a rubber duck set on a plinth) to Champagne Moments, usually awarded for feats of notable amusement.

But for some time now, the serious achievements of ‘most runs’ and ‘most wickets’ in our league season have been fobbed off with disposable plastic tattery. So I decided to invest in some trophies worthy of our collective sweat.

I did not approach Garrard & Co.

Instead, I restored an old bat and purloined a new ball to form the centrepieces. With a bit of digging we scratched together data back to 2000, so they’ll function as both trophies and permanent ongoing records for the twenty-first century.

Four-inch ceramic urns they are not, but they have a semblance of the achievements they represent, and the look of things worth getting your name on, which seems a good place to start.

- ends 493 words -

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