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July 2008
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The superstitious mind of Neil McKenzie

July 4th, 2008 by Alex Bowden in South Africa in England and tagged ,

There are many reasons for liking a cricketer. Maybe you caught a great performance. Maybe you like the way they play. Maybe you were at a Test and they waved, as requested by Stand C. Maybe you were at a one-day international and they scratched their arse, as requested by Stand K.

Or maybe you’ve learned that they used to suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder.

We’re not sure why leaving the house with wet trousers fresh out of the machine would make you more agreeable in our eyes, but it would. We’re not sure why repetitive hand washing would win us over, but again, it would. Maybe we just empathise because of our light switch thing (about which the less said the better).

Whatever the reason, we find ourself warming to Neil McKenzie, South Africa’s Indian-summer-having opener, after we learned that his superstitions got totally out of hand.

Highlights include his needing all toilet seats to be closed before he left the changing room, as well as taping his bat to the ceiling or wrapping it in a blanket before going out to bat. However, our personal favourite is the faintly cryptic ‘needing to get into bed perfectly’.

We’ve always assumed that there was a clear division between success and failure when getting into bed, but according to McKenzie there’s a gradation. In case you’re interested, a perfect entry requires the total absence of creasing.

So go and practice - and if you do manage a flawless entry, try and pinpoint what might have helped you achieve it. Was the alarm clock unplugged? Was the toilet still refilling? Did you flick light switch A a greater number of times than light switch B? Make a note. It was the key to your success.

See King Cricket’s regular blog at King Cricket is a cult figure in the world of cricket blogs and was TWC’s first Best-of-blogs winner in April 2008.

Posted in South Africa in England | 6 Comments »

The captain’s blog: The gamble

July 4th, 2008 by Edward Craig in Club cricket and tagged ,

The phone rings and I don’t recognise the number. “Hello.” A thick Asian accent.


“If you pick me for the game this Saturday, you will not get relegated.”

That’s the first thing he says. No name, no cricket CV, just a guarantee on non-relegation. Barnes may be desperate but picking players in the first team on the back of a 16-word phone call is beyond even us.

“I am a good batsman, I have scored a hundred against Barnes in 2000 and now I want to save you from relegation.”

It’s the hard sell.

I tell him to slow down, what’s your name (Jaff), where are you from (Karachi), where have you played before (Eastcote and North Middlesex). He’s just finished exams and is now looking for a club. It all sounds a bit fishy.

But he did guarantee non-relegation – and that’s dangling there desperately.

Ignoring the sensible side of my brain, I agree to have a net with him on Saturday morning before the game. He will not play this Saturday.

We have that net and, to give him his due, he looks a decent batsman. But it is only a net and he is wearing black shoes and chinos. He also bowls a little offspin.

“Do you want me Saturday?” I’ll think about it.

Losing draw against Shepherds Bush. Game taken away from us by a six ball 26 at the end of their innings. It is better than a loss and feels like a win.

Monday’s selection meeting: “Hello, Jaff?”


“You free Saturday? We’re playing Richmond.”

Non-relegation. Guaranteed.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Club cricket | 7 Comments »

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