Whilst nursing a Yuvraj Singh’s ego sized turd of mid autumn ennui last Sunday, throwing back a box of Stowell’s of Chelsea’s tramp range Cab Sav and wondering who thought putting the clocks back was a good idea apart from farmers and postmen, neither of whom seem to do any work these days anyway, I found myself ruminating with a carbon trading specialist on the subject of carbon offsetting. That’s encroaching winter for you. Suddenly cricket seems a distant memory. But actually no. It transpires that there is much for our as yet unappointed Team England Procreation Management Coach to ponder.
For those unacquainted with carbon offsetting it works, crudely, as follows. I am from the 1st world but afflicted with an aching guilt about global warming. I also wish to use my girlfriend’s relatively strong pounds to go to the States to visit my brother. But how can I do this without being personally responsible for the deaths of 1 billion Asians living on floodplains and close to rising oceans? Easy. Give the airline £70 and they’ll plant a few trees very high up where unscrupulous 2nd world loggers can’t chop them down for a profit so they themselves can go flying to Colorado. £70 for an 8000 mile round trip. So I ask my friend what the single biggest cause of global warming is, and he says “having kids”. Think about it. I may make the odd trip hither and yon, but if I were selfish enough to procreate, there’d be whole new me’s doing that and probably worse besides. I mean, think of the toys, the school trips in the 4x4 1 mile round the corner, all the food and the packaging. I could go on. So, I queried, what is the most effective way to carbon offset procreation? “Well”, says the mate hesitantly. “You have a number of options. Assuming you’re British, you’d have to offset by slaughtering around 10 Somalians, 5 Indians or 0.7 Americans (nationalities used for illustrative purposes only, you understand). You simply couldn’t afford the number of trees required to offset a whole British person for 75 years of life.”
This got me thinking inevitably about cricket and most especially England’s erstwhile heroes, turned big girl’s blouses, Harmison and Flintoff. Once the Ambrose and Walsh of modern day cricket, they have ended up busted flushes, worn down by the ceaseless grind of international cricket, so they say. However, speak it softly for fear of being straitjacketed and frogmarched to the nearest mind correction centre, but the real reason for their premature departures from the fields of cricketing glory is their prodigious appetite for procreation coupled with a potentially lethal requirement to be present at the actual birth.
Michael Odent the now world famous French obstetrician is currently in hiding for “revealing” that fathers’ presence at childbirth increases the chances of a Caesarian section and possibly fatal complications. He is therefore my pick as Procreation Coach. Firstly this will save the planet from unnecessary trips back and forth from tours to watch the birth agonies of the missus (Matt Prior take note). And secondly we can have our bloody cricketers back. Of course I’ve just realised that the birth of a healthy Harmison offsets the carbon savings of the flight, but I’m not a hard hearted man. I understand Harmy’s natural vanity and desire to bring up lots of other homesick potential world beaters who’d rather sup Newcastle Brown Ale with his mates in The Mawkish Magpie at Ashington than tear through a world class Indian batting line up.
And so to Harmison whose failure to make the South Africa tour party surely signals the end of the most frustrating fast bowling career since Dean Headley’s premature retirement through injury. Or is it the end? At Headingley this year we on the Sofa found ourselves mulling over Harmy’s long term prospects. Was this his last innings in test cricket? Would we ever again see his crinkled faced features welling up with tears because he missed his Mam, and of course the kids (they must be quite something these kids). Nigel, Tom and Kato could see no way back. I, on the other hand, subscribe to a different theory which goes as follows. Yes we all know he’s got about as much heart as a Catholic rebel in the hands of Queen Bess’s torturer Topcliffe. But he gets bounce, bowls quite fast, and once he’s safely cosseted in Geordieland for a few months on the spicy pitches of Chester-le-Street he’s a world beater once again (albeit against Hampshire in late May). I predict Geoff Miller and the gang will keep sending the odd selectorial billet doux, as one would a fathful ex on whom you can always count on a shag between relationships, until Harmy finally lets us down for the last time by speeding out of Lord’s at the tea interval on the last day of the next Ashes series with the Aussies 7 down and needing another 90 for victory so he can attend the birth of his daughter’s dog’s puppies. And then at last we can recall Ashes hero Matthew Hoggard in the vital role of Team England Soppy Animal Lover Coach.
Listen to "Harmison Affair" from The Ashes 4th Test Day 3, Headingley.