Warning: This blog entry is just a little bit Women's Magazine. There is cricket (obviously) but in relation to Other Girlie Stuff (not Icky Girlie Stuff, don't panic). Just so you know.
It may surprise people to hear this, but there is no direct correlation between the amount you know (or claim to know) about cricket and/or cricketers and the position of my underwear. No, really. The logical people reading this - and I do hope this means most, if not all, of my audience - will be saying, "Why on earth does she feel the need to mention this?" Some of you may feel slightly queasy at the thought of me sullying cricket with talk of my undergarments. I can only apologise. But being a single-and-attempting-to-date woman who openly loves cricket seems to have brought the idiots crawling out of the woodwork.
The main thing is this: women who are genuinely into cricket for the cricket are not going to be star-struck because a man claims his sister's doctor's uncle's dog once almost spilled Graeme Swann's pint in a beer garden.
I suppose it's not exactly new, people treating fame as though it's some sort of trendy sexually transmitted disease. The tabloids are constantly full of connect-a-scandal. That married celebrity allegedly had an affair with Blonde Slapper. Step forward Blonde Slapper's ex-boyfriend, who harbors a bit of a grudge. Oh, and the girl who had an unrequited crush on him back in school and who always thought that he'd turn out to be the sort of git to sell his story to the papers. And her hairdresser. And the hairdresser's Auntie Vi who knows ever so much about this sort of thing. And so on.
This stuff might impress girls who (a) are still in their teens, (b) wonder why they don't use those pretty pink cricket balls for all of the matches or (c) think that the pinnacle of female achievement is hooking a rich bloke, so much the better if he's mildly famous. None of those things apply to me, however. When I say that I like cricket, it's not a ploy to attract men. "See, I won't whinge if you want to watch sport because I like it too - aren't I a cool chick?!" Because really - cricket? If I wanted to pull blokes on this basis, I'd say I like football. That way I'd only have to sit through a couple of hours of a game I hated. Lie about loving cricket, and you might be in for five days of torture.
A while back, I mentioned a man who had made the big mistake of casting aspersions on my beloved Surrey boys while we were on a lunch date. This wasn't the only cricket-based part of our conversation, however. Oh no. We didn't discuss averages, or Surrey's fantastic recovery from a rather stale middle-part of the season, or how unfortunate it was that England were floundering in the Tests against Pakistan. We - or rather he - talked about Cricket People He Knew. You see, this man knows loads of the older cricket players, allegedly. He plays club cricket with a lot of the retired guys who do Sky commentary. He has chummy dressing-room banter with them. This, apparently, was supposed to have me all wide-eyed and impressed. It failed, and not just because I'm pretty convinced that he
was talking utter bullshit may have exaggerated slightly*.
Another classy individual attempted to chat me up on a website with this opening message:
"dont let this preswayed you into messaging me back but l work near lords cricket grounds and often meet the players and on the odd occassion can get some free tickets"
Ignoring the interesting spelling and complete lack of punctuation (and those of you who know me will understand how hard that is for me)... what on earth? This chap didn't elaborate on what he did near Lord's (sorry, lords.... gah!) or how it was that he came across free tickets. Funnily enough, the vague prospect of possibly meeting some players or the off-chance of saving a tenner on a county match ticket did not 'preswayed' me to get in touch. I doubt very much that I was looking at Pavilion seats for a Test match and I'm not sure even those could persuade me to overlook such blatant abuse of poor defenceless grammar.
As much as anything else, I have county membership. I can go to all of the Surrey home games if I want. As far as meeting players is concerned, this is an easy feat when you are armed with a six-year-old. My son is fearlessly chatty at the Oval. He thinks nothing of hanging over the boundary fence and telling the guys on the squad what he's been up to all week. It's got to the point where the team ask about him if he isn't there. So sorry, gents, the position of Male In My Life Who Helps Me Meet Cricketers is already filled. Because obviously that's the sole reason I go to games, right?
OK, let's pretend for the sake of argument that I am:
- Really just into cricket because OMG all those players are just sooooo hot;
- Of the firm belief that I'm just their type (while we're pretending, I'll be 15 years younger, give half a crap about clothes and have a personal trainer, ok?)
- Shallow enough to be huuuuugely impressed by a guy who says he knows loads of cricketers;
- Also gullible enough to believe it.
Then surely, given all that, if I date a bloke just to get near a cricket team, he'll not have a brilliant time with me. I'll spend time at matches ignoring my date and adjusting my cleavage to give whoever's fielding at long off the best possible view**. I'll quiz him endlessly about the sort of player stats that you can't get on CricInfo, if you know what I mean. Then I'll ditch him the first chance I get to pull an Actual Real Cricketer. Aww, poor guy.
I wonder sometimes if I'm seeing this from the wrong angle and the tactic is actually that bizarre playground method of flirting where you're rude to someone to make them like you. Maybe these men feel threatened by my claims to understand cricket (not all of it, you understand, just some of it) and want to re-assert their masculinity by showing there's things I don't know. This is a hairsbreadth away from patting me on the head and telling me not to worry about those nasty complicated rules... oh, and do I really want to drink that pint, it's not ladylike and shouldn't I be watching my weight? Caution: attempting this will earn you a lucky dip prize from the barrel which includes (among other things) a filthy stare, a slap and a kick in the nuts.
By the way, I'm not being arrogant and assuming that all men who talk cricket to me are trying to chat me up. That's beyond ridiculous. These interesting moments have all come when I've attempted to paddle in the shallow end of the dating pool and have, quite frankly, managed to convince me that it's not worth going in past the knees, never mind getting my hair wet and smudging my eyeliner. The majority of the cricket talk that I have with blokes is nothing more than cricket talk. When we're freezing our cheeks off in the stands, we're all in it together - gender doesn't really play much of a part. How much this has to do with the fact that we're all wearing 8 layers of clothing is anyone's guess. And fair play, I do get the occasional bit of grief from some of the Sofa crew but that's more on account of my woeful knowledge of fielding positions than anything else.
So anyway, a little advice to men out there. If you attempt to pull a girl with the third-hand claim to fame card and you succeed, don't be surprised if, shortly afterwards, she leaves you for someone with a second-hand claim to fame. And if you find a woman who genuinely loves cricket because it's awesome, then cherish this, share your copy of AOC or Spin, buy her pints and forgive her the occasional moment of staring at the slip cordon's backsides. Because she's worth her weight in gold. That and she'll keep track of the scorecard while you go to the bar.
* In the unlikely event that Charles Colville is reading this and you DO play village green cricket with a guy with a gazillion tattoos who happens to be a kick-arse opening batsman and one of your BFFs, do let me know. I won't take back everything I've said about him, but I'll stop calling him a lying liar from Liartown.
** Actually, I may try doing this anyway, for a giggle.