The Bracegirdle Blog:
Bowling Joel Garner

Comment and Analysis | 27th June 2011

You may have seen that we are approaching a major milestone in the history of our great game. Barring some huge miscalculation on my behalf – or a match being added or cancelled somewhere across the globe – when England face India at Lord’s shortly it will be the 2,000th Test Match ever played.

In an age when certain countries are desperately trying to sell tickets for 5-Day contests the media-hype surrounding this occasion (because there will be plenty, believe me) may just remind some spectators what a wonderful institution Test cricket is.

It’s interesting to note that the 1,000th Test was played as recently as 1984, so there has been as much Test cricket in the last 37 years as in the previous 107. Extending that further, the 500th Test was played in January 1961 – so in 50 years there have been 1500 Tests – an average of 30 a year.

"All I can say is that after a whirlwind innings by Big Bird, which had seen him club me out of the ground on three occasions (not just over the ropes – but literally out of the ground!) he swung and missed at a straight one!"

I haven’t had much time for administrators previously who say that too much cricket is being played nowadays but that really is a startling statistic.

Some of the most thrilling and memorable Tests ever played have, of course, involved the West Indies. A number of weeks ago I mentioned that ‘Fire in Babylon’ had been released and that I couldn’t wait to see it at the cinema.

Bizarrely, it didn’t seem to ever come round on national release, so I’ve given up on a popcorn-fuelled night at the flicks and bought the DVD instead. I can’t recommend the film highly enough – some explosive footage and enlightening and thought-provoking content.

One of the stars of that West Indies side – and the film – is Joel Garner, the ‘Big Bird’. Many years ago I decided to make a radical career change and one of the first pieces of written work I was asked to undertake in my ‘new life’ was a biographical piece for Joel’s Benefit Brochure, during his time with Somerset.

Little did I think that later that same summer I would not only get the chance to play against him – but also to bowl him out!

I know this is a self-indulgent moment – but it is true. All I can say is that after a whirlwind innings by Big Bird, which had seen him club me out of the ground on three occasions (not just over the ropes – but literally out of the ground!) he swung and missed at a straight one! From personal experience I know how some opposition bowlers may feel when they are trying to contain Andre Adams – I think praying was one of the methods I adopted!

Put on the spot – this pre-season – I was asked to predict how the county championship may pan out this year and I was reminded by a Lancashire supporter recently that I had tipped them for a season of struggle – ‘unless they started the campaign well’.

My emailing friend thought I’d got it completely wrong until I pointed out to him the final piece of that previous sentence. They did get off to a good start indeed and are now worthy championship challengers. The less said about some of my other predictions though, the better (eg Hampshire – title contenders?)!

I’m certainly not Mystic Meg and can’t normally ‘tip rubbish’ but I’m pleased to see one prophecy did come true.

For some time now I have been telling anyone who’d care to listen that Samit would play for England again this summer. I can’t put into words how delighted I am for him and wish him the very, very best now he is firmly back in the One Day plans. He is an outstanding talent – and now has another chance to make his mark at the highest level - and I firmly believe he will.

Dave Bracegirdle provides ball-by-ball commentary at all of Nottinghamshire's LV= County Championship matches on behalf of BBC Radio Nottingham.

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