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My least favourite cricketer

November 17 2017 at 10:43 PM
AndyNowhere  (Login AndyNowhere)
from IP address 94.72.244.76

 
(Apologies for this - if you are disinterested feel free to skip or berate me but it is the off-season and we are not signing anybody and the Ashes are going to be a disaster)

When I was growing up in Yorkshire in the late 70's and early 80's, like every other kid, I used to love the West Indies. They filled my family's Rediffusion black and white TV with brilliant carnival cricket. This love affair I was soon taking to the school playing field. When I was batting I wanted to be the imperious Vivian Richards; with a ball in hand it was Malcolm Marshall. Bat fast. Bowl fast. That was cricket. While this was obviously simplistic and unrealistic, I make no apologies for my 8 year old self. No football fan ever dreamt of being Phil Neville, and no birdwatcher ever held court bragging about seeing a hedge sparrow. Everybody desires the spectacular. In truth, nobody dreams of the ordinary - and if you look in a picture dictionary under the word 'ordinary' there staring back is a slightly pompous, overweight cricketer: Derek Pringle.


To give further context to my grievance, 1986 was perhaps the nadir for followers of English cricket (and boy we have had a few). The three tests against India were deeply chastening. I think I elected to sit behind the sofa and watch through my fingers. With the mighty and dangerous Guy the Gorilla banned for tooting on a Tooting Trumpet in came Derek the Docile. The Indians made us look like fools and, for me, Pringle became the epitome of all that was wrong with the world (despite Bothamesque figures of 3/47 in an innings in the second test I quietly confess). Somehow I decided that he was the reason for unemployment, acne and my failure to lose my virginity. Seeing him trundle in to bowl was a constant cause of despair. He was worse than an interrupted wet dream. His batting was not even as good as that.


In truth, deadly dull Derek was like a pound-shop Botham. He was the Christmas gift you never wanted because you knew there was something far better. While your friends were getting Raleigh Grifters you were getting a roller skate with a missing wheel. When, a year or so later, he was in competition with David Capel rather than the injured Botham, it was like being offered the choice between a weekend in a tent in Grimsby during February or two days in a cardboard box in Bolton during October. There was no answer that didn't feel like being sold a maggot sandwich and being told it was caviar. If the West Indies had been the fantasy, this was the bitter reality. Of course his averages might suggest different BUT I genuinely believed that Pringle was the worst cricketer to play at any level. There have been hundreds of average, ordinary cricketers to fail spectacularly for England since, but none that inspired in me such unreasoned incandescent rage. I have sympathy for the Blakeys, Igglesdens, Iranis that I never found for Pringle. Somehow he had found his way into my subconscious as the sum of all ills. He became a metaphor for the possibility that life may end up as more of a whimper than a bang.


And like the proverbial bad penny he just kept coming back. He did a stupid warm up that delighted the commentators (I can feel the bile rising at the recollection), but this was only ever the foreplay for utter disappointment. I willed him to fail and mostly I was left happy. He injured himself writing a letter (an urban myth I happily chose to believe) and I rejoiced with a salsa around the kitchen. He probably had good games which I refused to notice. He retired and I tried to throw a street party.


In researching this, I notice Wikipedia says that 'Pringle's first class batting average exactly matched his first class bowling average, indicating that he cancelled himself out perfectly'. Well exactly. He wouldn't have got in the team as a batsman or a bowler and as an all-rounder he only just covered his faults. It was like he never troubled a game of cricket.


This piece may have been better concluded with a fulsome apology and recognition that I have been unbelievably harsh. Maybe I could admit to a growing admiration for medium paced dobblers and an appreciation of the workmanlike batsman with no flair who look more out of place than an MCC blazer on a zebra. But it isn't going to happen. While you could argue with me using logic, facts and statistics, I stopped listening when I was 12 years old. I knew my enemy. I knew that if all cricketers were like him that I would rather watch wallpaper.


He might be a great journalist but I will never know. I wouldn't read a word for a footballer's wage. This is possibly my problem rather than his. I should probably ask your forgiveness and his but I am singularly unrepentant. Derek Pringle ruined my childhood. And now my life is once again in tatters, I wake from fevered nightmares of him wobbling in to bowl with the blankets sweat-soaked and tied in knots around my limbs.


This is the way the world ends...


    
This message has been edited by AndyNowhere from IP address 94.72.244.76 on Nov 17, 2017 10:47 PM


 
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Me4971
(Login Me4791)
90.196.154.45

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 7:39 AM 

Averaged 15 with the bat from 30 tests in test cricket yet was always called an allrounder! To be fair he was was a decent county player and a big part of Essex's success at the time.Not of international standard though.

 
 
Brian
(Login NewBrian)
84.51.181.142

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 9:19 AM 

Mine was the tubby Durham spinner who mysteriously played for England once or twice. I forget the name.

PS Dunnocks are quite nice when there's not much else about.

 
 
Dwight_Schrute
(Login Dwight_Schrute)
82.132.243.81

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 9:59 AM 

No opinion on Pringle. But that was a brilliant read, cheers!

 
 
Me4971
(Login Me4791)
90.196.154.45

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 10:22 AM 

I think you mean Ian Blackwell?

 
 
Seadog73
(Login Seadog73)
82.132.225.127

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 10:33 AM 

A very amusing read! I suspect we must be roughly the same age since I also seemed to spend much of my childhood watching Pringle warm up. His biggest contribution to test cricket was blocking up an end while Gooch scored a brilliant century v West Indies at Headingley.

 
 
Brian
(Login NewBrian)
84.51.181.142

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 11:13 AM 

Yes, and after rereading my post I must apologise for my use of the word spinner.

 
 
Idle man
(Login Idle_man)
82.69.51.91

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 11:19 AM 

Pringle was just one of those bits and pieces cricketers whose selection was a tacit admission we weren't any good. Irani, Ealham were probably worse than Pringle, and there may be others I've had surgically erased from memory.I once heard an idiot at a test state that Craig White was the worst player ever selected for England. After I calmed down I asked him how many players he could name between Botham and Flintoff with both an England century and a five wicket haul to their name. I then had to think about it myself. Apart from Craig, the only one I could come up with was Chris Lewis.

 
 
Seadog73
(Login Seadog73)
82.25.3.156

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 11:36 AM 

Chris Lewis was phenomenally gifted but sadly had nothing between his ears. Pringle made Lewis look like Sobers.

 
 

Dave Morton
(Login DaveMorton)
94.7.197.238

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 12:16 PM 

And yet, Pringle ended up as a really good county pro seam bowler. I think getting picked for England when he was just a kid made us dislike him - but he didn't pick himself! Similar story with Ben Hollioake's initial selection, and Rikki Clarke's. Clarke ended up emulating Pringle as a good pro. Hollioake obviously didn't.

I think, as Andy admitted, anything we write in this thread will say more about us than about the player of our non-affection.

In my case, my least favourite England player of all time was (and still is) hugely gifted, a South African who played for Notts, Hampshire and Surrey, when he could be bothered to.

 
 
Steve C
(Login stevecowton)
Assistant Moderator
109.111.194.2

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 2:19 PM 

Ricky Ponting for me.
Always seemed to be whining.

 
 
Idle man
(Login Idle_man)
82.69.51.91

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 2:22 PM 

Yes, I'd be with you there DM. I always want to see him bat, but he makes me feel he doesn't give a damn about so much that I love about cricket. Someone once said of Sir Geoffrey that he'd have been better off as a golfer. GB, with all his faults, loves cricket deeply. There's only one thing/person KP loves deeply. So pleased when he went to Surrey - a match made in hell.

 
 
Twelfth Man
(Login twelthman)
31.107.196.226

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 2:22 PM 

Yes not a difficult one for me either. See Dave's last paragraph and Idle Man's post. I personally hope he keeps his word and has played his last game of cricket on these shores.


    
This message has been edited by twelthman from IP address 31.107.196.226 on Nov 18, 2017 2:24 PM


 
 
AndyNowhere
(Login AndyNowhere)
94.72.244.76

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 3:00 PM 

I understand the issue with KP, despite his ridiculous talent I never warmed to him. But then I can't stand Strauss, have issues with Broad, never liked Prior. So I could make an occasional series of several hundred - Gatting would warrant a mention, several Australians (Matthew Hayden?), several particularly frustrating Yorkshire players. but I am comfortable with Derek Dunnock.

Also, I never liked Swann as a player (his self-confidence grated) but have been converted since he has become a regular on TMS. So maybe there is hope for me yet.


 
 
Seadog73
(Login Seadog73)
82.25.3.156

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 3:09 PM 

Personality etc. notwithstanding, I'd struggle to understand how anyone who loves cricket could not love watching Pietersen in full flow. Many of his perceived character flaws match those of Boycott, but I know who I'd rather watch batting.

 
 
Guest
(Login AndyNowhere)
94.72.244.76

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 5:04 PM 

KP is an enigma. He is the most naturally talented player of his generation but has a rare ability to get people's backs up. Lord Geoff of this parish always seemed (to me) to come across as likeably cranky. There seems a genuine warmth towards him from other players...now whether this has grown since he retired, I do not know.

 
 

Dave Morton
(Login DaveMorton)
94.7.197.238

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 5:22 PM 

We've got a long way down this thread now, and nobody has mentioned Chris Adams! Proves that time is a healer.

And, yes, I did love watching KP bat. To see a bloke playing the best bowlers in the world like a man batting against his kids on the beach was incredible...but I always wished he was playing for someone else and not being seen as a representative of the cricket community of which I am a part.

I loath everything he stands for.

 
 
Idle man
(Login Idle_man)
82.69.51.91

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 5:24 PM 

I understand where you are coming from Seadog, and I never wanted KP to fail for England. Somehow however he always managed to get the personal performance, brilliant though it often was, detached from the game overall. It was like watching a brilliant gymnast. Personal glory was all he seemed to care about.

And actually (and I'm neither a Boycott idoliser or hater), I'd say that I'd rather watch GB cope with a good attack on a wicket helping the bowlers than I would watch KP on his t20 rounds.


 
 
Guest
(Login swfctyke)
94.119.96.2

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 6:14 PM 

I find what finch and maxwell do a bit souless. But I'd probably do the same

 
 
Kevin Owens
(Login kevinowens)
2.122.229.225

Re: My least favourite cricketer

November 18 2017, 7:59 PM 

For me it has to be Andrew Gale. Especially in t20 when he'd waste a lot of deliveries. Couldn't play spin to save his life

 
 
 
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