This Sporting Life: Turning The Tap

I was ten at the end of 1966 when something in me clicked. That need to find my own distinctive passion. It was conscious but I needed something. And while I can’t be totally sure, I think mum was behind that discovery.

Let me set a scene of domesticity in the mid sixties in a family that hadn’t begun to swing in any meaningful sense. Mum would have been no more likely to have enjoyed the Beatles or the Stones as she would have enjoyed the then popular artificial mashed potatoes advertised by giggling robots. Her tastes extended to Sinatra and Nat King Cole. But it was her listening habits that helped me. She was a radio aficionado, attached to what was then the BBC’s Home Service. However there was a period in the afternoon, between the end of the afternoon play and the news at 5 when she was often driven to turn over. That gave her a choice: the Light Programme which comprised the worst of cheesy 1960s pap-pop, or the Third Programme, which during the summer months broadcast ball by ball coverage of the cricket. Mum fell in love with the rhythms, the anecdotes and banter that filled the gaps between the balls.

I must have begun listening during the summer of 1967 but my first real recollection is a year later during the cricket against Australia. England had a large, not to say fat opening batsman who, unusual for that time liked to give the ball a fair old wallop from the first moment. Colin Milburn’s career ended not long after when a car accident left him with only one eye but that day, at Lord’s England needed him to give it a bit of humpty. Listening on the radio while mum delivered some old clothes to some sort of charity shop, Milburn hit the ball for six. The commentators were ecstatic, so odd was this occurrence and I was hooked.

That summer, 1968 is famous for its protests and almost revolutions. To this scabby-kneed schoolboy, the excitement was to be found on an old transistor radio as England, my England tried to claw back a one nil deficit, going into the last game at the Oval. It was beyond exciting (to me) with rain, the perennial torment of the avid cricket follower causing fingernails to be chewed hard. In the end, in the last hour of the fifth day, with all England fielders round the bat, England won.

It had me, this game for Flanneled Fools by the short and curlies. Now all I needed was to learn the laws, develop some sort of skill and persuade someone to let me play in their team.



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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12 Responses to This Sporting Life: Turning The Tap

  1. willowdot21 says:

    Geoffrey are you playing Cricket bare footed on the lawn and the Archeologist has a murderous look in his eye!


  2. I’m sure someone will let you play.


  3. Ah, good old cricket. My older son played and my biological father was a great fan. He once took a sabbatical from work and travelled around England for six months watching the cricket.


  4. Erika says:

    Now, that calls for a sequel, Geoff. I want to know more about the development of your cricket career…

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I was once caught behind the pavilion!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. KL Caley says:

    Despite living in Yorkshire for nearly a decade, cricket still alludes me but there are so many passionate supporters I must be missing something 🤔


  7. V.M.Sang says:



  8. V.M.Sang says:

    I enjoyed listening to Test Match Special on Radio 3. I think you can enjoy the game without understanding all the intricacies.
    If the ball goes to the boundary, it’s 4 runs, and if it goes over it’s 6. If it’s caught, or the stumps are broken when the batter is out of his/her crease (behind the line), that’s out, too. As it is if it misses the bat and is stopped by a leg (LBW).
    I have no idea about silly mid on, or short leg. What the heck is a googly? But I still enjoy listening, especially to TMS.


  9. This is the true sport of kings


  10. Widdershins says:

    That moment of discovering a true passion is never forgotten. 😀 I felt it the first time I ever walked onto a squash court. 🙂


  11. Suzanne says:

    Backyard cricket it’s a kiwi thing too. For me, watching paint dry is preferable than watching or playing cricket.


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