This year more than ever I have been lamenting the lack of fall colour in our yard. When we first moved here the autumn brought such magnificent displays, the big maple right by our deck looked like it was on fire when the sun was behind it. We are surrounded by thousands of trees and stretching across the landscape on a crisp autumn morning was a kaleidoscope of red, orange, yellow and even rich russet brown. No more, well at least not lately. The last several years have brought briefer times between the first hint of yellow to total drop of drab beige/brown leaves. This year was barely yellow and seemed to go almost straight from green to gone.

I know why.

Scientists and clever boffins with letters after their names tell us that it is because of global warming. The sugars in leaves need sharp frosts at exactly the right time to produce that glorious display and that has been happening less and later in the year. The scientists and clever boffins are wrong. The cause is something else entirely. A seismic shift in the world that has been subtle and for me at least, unnoticed. A travesty. A change so fundamental it has obviously shifted the world’s axis and undermined the balance of nature.

I am speaking of cricket.

I was having lunch at Montana’s when I happened to put my glasses on and glanced up at the TV. Various interviews were going on with gentlemen clad in bright green, red, orange, etc. I assumed they were footballers (soccer for those who think I might be referring that other game that involves very little in the way of feet but that’s another blog).

Not so. They were cricketers. Cricketers! In colours! I swear I reeled in shock.

Cricket should only ever involve a slight hint of colour, creamy beige jumpers (sweaters), perhaps a jaunty flash of red stripe in the umpire’s cap and a gentle blush of red on the front of white trousers (more of that later). The rest should be white, pristine and crisp, highlighting the green grass, the blue sky and fluffy white clouds, or as a sharp counterpoint to slate grey skies pregnant with impending rain. Pressed long trousers and long sleeved shirts, sleeves rolled to elbow to display well honed forearms.

There is one exception permitted to this rule but it also has strict guidelines. Bright coloured shirts and shorts are acceptable but should be worn by young people as they play cricket on the beaches or back streets of places like Barbados (memories of my youth).

Apart from that there should only be two types of cricket and in both cases the clothes worn should be white.

The first is the posh kind, bores me witless but seems to make my brother and nephews happy, played at places like Lord’s with the aim of winning some pile of ashes from the Australians. This goes on for days and days, interrupted by rain and tea, and is accompanied by subtle clapping and the odd cheer.

The best kind of cricket involves a bit of planning but is truly worth the effort. I am writing this from a woman’s point of view. I suspect men have a different opinion but then when have men ever made any sense?

First, on one of those glorious summer days that only really happen in England, call a friend, sister or, in a pinch, random woman off the street.  Pack a nice blanket, some wine and things to snack on. Wine can be substituted with cider (called hard cider in North America) or bubbles if you want to push the boat out.  Nothing too hard though. You want a gentle buzz, not to be comatose oblivious of the view.

Next find a village green where they are setting up for a cricket match. It doesn’t really matter which green or who is playing, you won’t understand it anyway. Settle down, preferably under a tree, pour some wine, have some high calorie cheese or chocolate or whatever you fancy, and watch. Soon a dozen or so very nice young men will appear and position themselves at random intervals on the grass, and
some middle aged and even older men, that’s OK they all look good in the outfits. Every now and then two of the men will run towards each other, pass, and sometimes run back again for no apparent reason. You will notice how well the tight white trousers accent chuchy bottoms as they lope by. Should you feel a bit naughty you will also notice that over the course of the match the bowler rubs the ball (the red one, the cricket ball) down the front of his trousers. Apparently this polishes it. Whatever. It does leave a slight defining pinky red shadow in a pertinent place which if you are very near sighted like me, gives you a signpost for where to look.

If this all makes you feel a bit of a flushed and flustered it is perfectly alright to lie back and have a little nap. The game will go on for hours and no one will notice. Just sit back up, raise your glass and say ‘Well done that man!’ or ‘Here, here!’, and everyone will think you have a clue about what it is they are actually supposed to be doing. If you get tired of one lot they very kindly swap in new gentlemen at regular intervals.

The health benefits of this sport are phenomenal. It lowers your blood pressure. The wine is good for your cholesterol. The sit ups on your blanket strengthen core tummy muscles. The dappled sunshine gives you an excellent boost of Vitamin D.

I fear for our future now that coloured strip has been introduced as mainstream. I am all in favour of progress but some things are sacrosanct.

:o)

Bet I get flamed for this one.