A Tweet. Set me off. On a trail that may be irreverent and ill-judged.
Forgive me. I’m neither trying to offend nor in any sense under-estimating the importance of the #Covid19 protocols. (Friends, I’ve spent most of the last several months imparting the details of those very protocols to the good people of Wales). I get that this stuff is important: I get that it’s life and death, potentially.
Jofra’s nipping ‘off to the flat’. Indeed that whole, daft-but-also-massively-irresponsible thing. Can that not be a source of comedy, too? It was, on twitter. Is it bad that I laughed at some of that? If you think so, maybe leave me now… and all the best.
In response to a tweet from Barney Ronay, yer man @DavidJMcGaughey said… leading me to say…
All of which is silly-blokey (I get that) but got me thinking about other breakouts, or potential breakouts.
So purely for laughs, a wee list of who/how-they-might… break the shackles of responsibility of such-and-such. Because (however irresponsibly) I am clear that we like a rebel, when it comes down to it. Even if they might cost us a Test Match.
- Beefy the obvious place to start. There’s no doubt a library full of more or less outrageously beeftastic Breakouts. (I speak as the brother of a cub reporter who was on the scene moments after Sir Ian *had a quiet word* with a young gentleman after an evening’s entertainment in Scunthorpe – this in Botham’s football-playing days. Not that this would be the most dramatic or news-worthy of his extra-curricular activities).
- But what would be the classic Botham Breakout? And who else/how else might the Collective Bubble of Responsibility be pricked? Who are or were the scallywags – your scallywags?
- Weirdly, my own first thought was Derek Randall, but this may have been more about my memory of his agreeably mischievous fizzog than any propensity of his for tunnel-digging. But, if pushed, I see ar Derek climbing out the hotel window with remarkable agility, scooting gleefully down a drainpipe or six, before meeting a couple of other reprobates at a rum bar in Kingstown, or supping pints of mild at a regular haunt in downtown Nottingham. He could do that and still field like a god, following morning.
- Gatting. And maybe Gooch. Both stodgier, arguably more lugubrious sorts and obviously both generally loaded down with more responsibility than Randall. But I see them rather bullishly defying the curfew – perhaps with despairing coach or media man watching on – before they march off in search of Quality Nosh and a large glass of red. Perhaps in Australia… which would up the ‘bollocks to everything and everyone’ factor. Not mentioning South African rebel tours; unforgivable and not funny.
- Not even sure of they were mates but somehow see Flintoff and Harmison out on the illicit razz, too. Having successfully done the weasling out, post a zillion faux-Parachute Regiment signals down the hotel corridor. Maybe Simon Jones is there, baseball cap reversed, squeezing Harmison’s buttock’s and giggling, as they slide past The Gaffer’s Room? Whichever way, this is mission on for a properly savage piss-up: probably in New Zealand, I’m thinking. (Who cares if that figures? It happened).
- Oooh Robin Smith. Must have been guilty but probably in the Botham scenario. So likely a serial offender.
- These are all relatively old guys, partly, of course, because I am. There is an issue, in the modern era, clearly – the volume and omnipresence of Media People both in the England Squad Support Group and in the Press Corps around it. So loads of people to potentially grass you up. I know some of the latter and I can exclusively reveal that some of them would absolutely love it if player X or Y either led or joined in with a breakout. I know I would. (Do I need to reiterate my acknowledgements that of course we’re not talking Covid-like situation, here and this is not remotely in that league of serious? No? Good. Onwards then with a couple more.
- There surely remain Likely Lads, *even now* – witness Stokes/Hales and everything. (Broadly, I think thank god for that).
- However booze is still central to relaxation, in a way that maybe doesn’t reflect that well on any of us. Testosterone is similarly plainly a factor un-dimmed by years of training, non-negotiable behaviours, ‘protocols’. Young men, cooped up? Horny and bit restless? No wonder nightclubs loom largish in the imagination.
- Hmm. So in the current England squads, who are the ones, what are the odds?
- Should I risk a Breakout Rating, based on almost nothing but headshot, body-language, levels of barking-ness?
- Yes. Yes I should risk that. Here it is; selected individuals… because, whatever…
- Joe Root. Has that potential to be a right Mister Clean but end of a tour, hauled out or called-out by feisty comrades? 5-10.
- Eoin Morgan. As with Root, strong sense of responsibilities. Might go wild in or against Ireland, possibly? 6-10.
- Jofra Archer. Guilty as charged, regrettably. Beyond that, could be a laff, you suspect, on a team rampage. 10-10.
- Mooen Ali. Wonderful, charming, rooted bloke. Religious and humble. There have to be doubts about corruptibility quotient. 2-10
- Jimmy Anderson. Presents often as a miserable bugger. See him staring into a glass, maybe… ver-ry late… possibly melancholically, ‘flying solo?’ Tough call this but going with 7-10 on the basis that he might throw a defiant strop somewhere along the line.
- Jonny Bairstow. Contender. Temperamental. Red hair. Yorkie. “Don’t tell me I can’t goo sup a pint!” 8-10.
- Stuart Broad. Coo. Relatively, a sophisticate. But also ‘opinionated’ – and likely to think he’s earned the right to a wee indiscretion. 7-10.
- Rory Burns. Part of the New Breed? Spent half his life in the classroom with a meedya advisor? Possibly. Frankly have no idea – 5-10.
- Currans. Sharp, determined-maybe-ruthless, professional. Have haircuts, though – so nightclubs? 7-10
- Joe Denly. It may be over but… outstandingly solid team man. If someone else leads… 6-10.
- Ben Foakes. Too good-looking not to want to slurp a cocktail and boooo-geeeee! 6-10.
- Jack Leach. Sense of humour, recently a student; dark, bald, be-spectacled horse. 7-10.
- Ollie Pope. Can he even drink yet? 4-10
- Jason Roy. Full of himself. Might smuggle something IN, then lead a breakout. 9-10.
- Ben Stokes. Oof. Does seem scarily mature, these days. 2-10?
- Chris Woakes. Seems great lad. So fun. So draggable outtable? 7-10.
- Mark Wood. Magnificently certifiable. Possibly been selected to be a one-man Social Committee. Hope he has crates of Newkie Brown secreted under the bed. 9-10.
Jofra was daft and unprofessional. Not at all suggesting his ‘offence’ in this moment equates to the light-hearted frolic above. He will pay a particular price, for a particular indiscretion, understand that. But are there not times when breaking out can be fair enough – can contribute to team mood… and therefore to success? I can’t help hoping so.