“ARE you going to eat that or what?”
I don’t think I’ve ever, since the age of 10, picked up an apple and just, well, eaten it.
I believe people come in two groups. There are those, like my wife, for example, who will spot an apple in the fruit bowl, pick it up, and take a bite out of it.
And, like many others, she will continue to take bites until she’s had her fill before disposing of the remains. The other group are like me.
I’ll pick up an apple, roll it around in my fingers and flick it up in the air.
First with a spinning action, watching the apple rotate through the air in clockwise motion, before I catch it.
After about three or four flicks, I’ll then flip it up out of the back of my hand several times.
I’ll then polish it. Vigorously. On one side.
I don’t like cricket. Oh no. I love it.
An apple, for lovers of cricket, is the perfect surrogate cricket ball.
After I’ve polished the apple, I’ll invariably proceed to lob it from left to right hand, getting a feel for the weight.
I’ll polish it again. It is polished by rubbing up and down the ‘polishing groove.’ That groove can be found where the top of the leg meets the pelvis. It helps shine the apple perfectly, with the added bonus that no one, having seen you rub it within inches of your groin, will ask for a bite.
Given enough room, I will then proceed to bowl a few off spinners with the apple, then throw in a googly.
Not releasing, of course. And not the full run-up. That bit can be imagined in your head. As can the pitch of the ball, in the rough, just outside off stump.
The ball bites, spins onto the inside edge, off the pad, one-handed catch on the wicket by short-leg, “Howzaaaaaaaatttt?” He’s given it, he’s given it. Ord’s secured the Ashes, what a moment, what a series, what a star.
“Are you going to eat that apple or what?” I’m always brought quickly back down to earth by my wife.
One thing I’ve never heard my wife say when I’m juggling my apple is “chuck it here.” More’s the pity.
My brother is also in the cricket group of apple-eaters.
As young boys, on spotting me with the apple, I’d hear him shout “chuck it here, then” and there he’d be, crouching like slip fielder, demanding a catch.
What would ensure would be a 20 minute slip catching practice whereby the apple is flung at varying speeds and heights until dropped. Best of three.
If a tight one, we’d take the catching out onto the street. Flinging the apple down the driveway.
After several drops on the pavement, the apple was battered, covered in grit and inedible. Which was never any great loss, the most boring part about an apple being the eating.
That’s apples to the cricket-lover. Don’t get me started on cardboard tubes.
Cardboard tubes (you shouldn’t have mentioned it if you didn’t want me to get started on it) and I’m talking about the three foot long ones here, the ones sometimes used to store posters, are also a cricket-lover’s dream.
Non cricket-lovers, like my wife, will bend the cardboard tube in half and stuff it in the recycling bin.
Someone like myself will play a forward defensive.
No gap between bat (cardboard tube) and front pad (trouser leg).
Once I’ve got my eye in, I’ll move to the cover drive, onto the pull and then the hook.
With no ball involved, the glorious sound of leather on willow is replicated by making a satisfying “Clack!” sound with your tongue.
“Why not use the apple as a ball with the cardboard tube bat?” I hear you cry. And by ‘you,’ I mean non-cricket-lover.
All cricket-lovers would know the apple would be too heavy for the cardboard bat.
You need a rolled-up sheet of newspaper for the ball, or, ideally, one of those brightly coloured plastic balls you find in children’s play area.
Get that sorted and you’ve got a game on your hands.
I mention all this because of two things. One: The Ashes series has started and I find I’m surrounded by people who really don’t give a monkeys about cricket (in life, that’s about 93 per cent of the population).
Invariably they were hit by a cricket ball as a youngster, or found, what I would call the protracted mental challenge of pressurising the opposition while in the field (commonly known as the tedium of waiting to bat) too boring.
And two: I caught my two boys in the kitchen the other day throwing plum back and forward across the kitchen playing three drops and you’re out. Happy days.
And my heart sang when I heard my wife shout: “Are you going to eat that or what?”
* Apologies to the 93 per cent who have no interest in cricket and for using cricket terminology without explanation. Normal service will be resumed next week.