The answer to cricket’s early season indifference issues

May 19, 2009

Morris Men of Monkseaton - the one with the flower on her head is a him

The opening salvo of the ECB’s Great Exhibition of cricket ended yesterday amongst a handful of chilly-looking north-easterners. Managing Director Hugh Morris should be worried. If this really is ‘a year of cricket like never before’, roll on the football season.

The result apart, there were so many things wrong with the two-test West Indies series, that it’s hard to know where to start: Durham in May, mismatched teams, the West Indies’ general attitude (and fielding), a Wednesday start in London, over-priced tickets and empty seats, and, in all, only six days one session and roughly eleven minutes of play.

Worst of all, however, was the gradual sinking feeling that I experienced on the Friday of the Lords test as my Saturday tickets became increasingly redundant.

With a free day to play with, that long-awaited trip to Dickens World was rejected in favour of staying central: “There’s sure to be something on in Trafalgar Square.”

Indeed, there was. Morris Dancing is dying out, once again, and, having had my first live experience, at the Westminster Day of Dance 2009, I can understand why. The men of Whitchurch, Winchester, Ripley and Ravensbourne looked to be enjoying themselves, but I could see no justification for another resurgence of this world of handkerchiefs and bells (wiki tells me that revivals are regular, with at least three in the twentieth century).

Then the Monkseaton Morris Men appeared. Swords replaced handkerchiefs, bells were traded for somersaults and a man dressed up as a woman with a flower on his head. An act, some humour, and dare I say, talent. Taking the lead from the IPL (where the dancers are a throwback to Legs & Co.) the Morris Men of Monkseaton may be the answer to the early season indifference issues facing their namesake Hugh. A dance to celebrate every boundary in the Twenty20 World Cup? If they catch balls as well as they switch swords, they might even get a game in the West Indies team.