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Sex in times of Ashes

It should be obvious from the headline, but we are about to end the year talking about the two things we love to love the most: sex and cricket. Both, we know, began in India, but we shall let that idea hang while focussing — for the moment — on the Blighty.

world Updated: Dec 28, 2010 00:31 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar

It should be obvious from the headline, but we are about to end the year talking about the two things we love to love the most: sex and cricket. Both, we know, began in India, but we shall let that idea hang while focussing — for the moment — on the Blighty.

The Poms and Aussies are at it again. Never mind the fact that the Blighty has just given Australia a British-born Prime Minister, cricket’s most famous biennial series is being fought with all the expected grit and rigour on and off the field.

The mind-games having preluded the matches, the series is currently tied fiercely at 1-1, with the English looking set to steamroll over a bunch of unhappy greenhorns.

But there’s a slight problem: here in England, the matches down under begin at 11 pm GMT, which means millions of English viewers have either to watch the action replayed the next day on the telly or in a pub, or watch the whole thing live and turn up very late at work.

Additionally, if the telly is in the bedroom, they risk putting off their partner — in more ways than one.

In his column in The Observer last month, the cricket writer Frank Keating recalled a letter from 1978 published in the same newspaper. The writer, a woman, is quoted as saying:

“One night, my fellow and I were making mad, passionate love when I noticed something sticking in his ear. Pantingly, I asked him what it was. ‘Shut up, woman!’ he said, ‘I'm listening to the cricket’.”

Keating, whose column was titled equally hotly ‘How the Warm Glow of the Old Wireless Stoked the Ashes Fire’, apparently got it somewhat wrong.

The letter writer, the paper informed us hurriedly, was “anxious to point out that she expressed herself somewhat less graphically and, perhaps more importantly, that she was not talking about herself in the letter.”

In India, readers will remember, HT broke the news last year of how coach Gary Kirsten was advising Indian cricketers to have sex before matches and, if that were not possible, to “go solo.” “Does sex increase performance?” the coach asked in his Vision Document. “Yes, it does, so go ahead and indulge.”

If sex is good for cricket in India, what good is cricket for sex in the Blighty?

And how deliciously ironical yet appropriate is it that Blighty, the best-known nonformal word used to describe Britain should come from Indian word Bilayati.

And, really, how predictable and just.