The Plastic Hippo

May 2, 2015

A six day test

Via Mirrorpix

Via Mirrorpix

There comes a moment in a test match, usually just before lunch on the fourth day, when cricket fans realise that both sides have settled for a draw. With rain on the way, the art of spin replaces the raw aggression of pace and a lofted drive through extra cover or the dispatch of a bouncer with a hook over the head of deep fine leg gives way to studious back foot defence. As an American friend once observed; “What…five days and nobody won..?”

British politics was once as different to American politics as cricket is to baseball. Both certainly involve a bat, a ball and people running about but with fireworks and dancing girls at test matches and a UK election to decide between two individual human beings, the boundaries have become indistinct. The presidential candidates ambitious for number 10 are playing out for a draw by doing a lot of shouting and basically keeping their powder dry until the next test match takes place in October.

The rules of game now demand that every media report of the election should start with the words “opinion polls suggest” and that every time a politician utters the words “National Health Service”, they must be prefaced with the word “our”. President Cameron, desperately trying not to get out on a sticky wicket, has taken to rolling his sleeves up, waving his arms about and bellowing about the eligibility of Scottish born seam bowlers being selected by the other side. Would-be President Miliband seems to be more gentlemanly by ignoring the sledging and lobbing endless ONHS googlies from the privatised gasworks end. Miliband`s performance in the slips as he exited the stage after his six overs on BBC Question Time caused the BBC`s Nick Robinson to conclude that the election was lost due to poor footwork. There was no mention of Cameron ducking out of short deliveries or the umpire describing Tory activists as “undecided” or that Cameron refuses to face the bowling.

Even given all the “howzat” shouting about not going into coalitions or making deals, a draw seems inevitable and Cameron will not trouble the scorer again. He perhaps hopes that a coalition of Labour, SNP, Plaid and the Greens will fall apart by the autumn because, as every Tory knows, strong intelligent women don`t play cricket. Unfortunately for him, they do and I for one would be happy to see Nicola Sturgeon at the crease with Leanne Wood at the non-strikers end and Natalie Bennett padded up in the pavilion.

Miliband`s categorical declaration not to do a deal with the SNP has been interpreted as confirmation by the right-wing media that a deal has been done. Coalitions, it seems, are very bad things and will lead to the splitting up of the state. Taking into account what has happened in the last five years, the right-wing media are entirely correct for once. Captain Miliband might be gambling on a coalition of Conservatives, completely barking Kippers and the rather strange DUP from across the water all led by a blond buffoon who allows his minders to manhandle the sister of a Blue Peter presenter. Clegg, if he is lucky, will be allowed onto the pitch carrying a tray of orange squash during the drinks interval.

Regardless of the strategy, tactics and gamesmanship of modern cricket, politics is more important as it is supposed to improve the lives of the spectators paying good money to hear leather on willow. The game has changed; it`s time for the final over and stumps. With six days left and 326 needed to win, where is Beefy Botham when you need him?

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