In affectionate remembrance….

These are the famous Ashes, competed for by England and Australia since 1885. The Ashes are actually the remains of a bail and the trophy is on display at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

What a summer this has been. England won the Cricket World Cup in extraordinary circumstances in chaotic scenes at Lord’s. Next up it was the old foe, Australia. Nothing stirs the blood of England and Aussie cricket fans quite like the Ashes battles.

This year’s edition was one of the most compelling, exciting and dramatic to be played so far. For the most part, England were outplayed, mainly because of a malfunctioning top order and a very well honed Australian fast bowling attack, and of course, Steve Smith!

But the final result was 2-2. The bowlers were mainly on top, but what most cricket fans will be talking about was the third match of the series, at Headingley. England were seemingly dead and buried after being bowled out for a dismal 67 in their first innings. But the Aussies failed to reckon on one incredible innings from Ben Stokes. Stokes played the innings of his career to fire England towards one of the most amazing wins of all time. The crowd were beside themselves as Stokes singlehandedly guided England home, against all the odds.

Other great moments from the series? The discovery of a powerful England fast bowler, Jofra Archer. His lightning pace and fire put Steve Smith out of action for that third Test and also hit his replacement, Marnus Labuschagne a fearful blow on the head as well. Archer is a fearsome sight, with his easy, graceful run up and explosive pace. The series turned on that rain hit second Test at Lord’s.

Stuart Broad dismissed Aussie opener David Warner seven times in the series. Warner, like Smith and Cameron Bancroft, were constantly reminded of their role in the ball tampering scandal that rocked Australian cricket. Warner was given a torrid time by Broad and the crowd were unsympathetic. Broad was magnificent throughout the series after the injury suffered by England’s finest, Jimmy Anderson.

And then onto Steve Smith. In an Australian line up that looked as fragile as England’s, Smith was outstanding. He fidgets, shuffles around and looks throughly ugly at the crease. But his temperament and quality was unquestioned and he was the leading run scorer on either side, by a mile. The Oval crowd gave him a great ovation in the last Test, that finished today. We will see a lot more of him and have to figure out ways to dismiss him. England couldn’t.

Another Aussie hero was fast bowler Pat Cummins. Cummins had a very bad injury some while ago that threatened to end his career. But by sheer willpower and determination, he has risen to the top. He spearheaded the Aussie attack by being constantly hostile, at the England batsmen all the time and commanded respect.

Tim Paine, Australian captain, had a mixed series and couldn’t get his umpire reviews correct very often (of which more later). Joe Root was glad to draw the series 2-2, but England have plenty of problems in their top order. They’ve tried plenty of options but none of them seem to have worked. A better emphasis on four day cricket and the Test side would see players more equipped to play the longer innings required. That won’t happen overnight, of course. But to compete and hopefully beat the Australians on their own patch next time round must be an achievable goal.

And finally, a look at how the umpires performed. From a trained eye, not brilliantly would be an apt description. There were many mistakes on the field, and the ICC have to start looking and training up officials of Test match standard in the next few years. Joel Wilson from the West Indies is not up to scratch, and quite how he has been promoted to the top table is beyond me. Chris Gaffaney and Aleem Dar, though more experienced, also had matches to forget. And even mistakes were not confined to on field. Sri Lankan Ruchira Palliyguruge made two decisions as third umpire where lbw calls indicated bat on ball, but this was ignored by Palliyguruge.

It is difficult for the Test match officials, it is granted, but outside of England and Australia, the umpiring isn’t all that great. And that needs to change. That is a fact.

Anyway, a captivating series ended 2-2, and put Test match cricket where it belongs, at the top. Better than T20 cricket and these ten over leagues that are sprouting up everywhere. The pinnacle of the game, Test cricket. As it should be, always.

A.S.D Brooks

Aaaaah, Bicester…..

Different day, different gravy. It’s a decent, warm Autumn day and so instead of being indoors cooped up, I’ve decided to pay a visit to a shopping outlet called Bicester Village, in Oxfordshire, England. It’s about 45 minutes away from London on the train.

Quaint place, if I’m being honest. Full of very expensive outlets, ranging from Gucci to Michael Kors to Versace. Little bit out of my price range, to say the least. I thought it was worth paying a visit as I have passed by once a few Christmasses ago.

I have never ever seen so many Chinese people in one place as I have here. Extraordinary, wherever you turn. The Chinese love a bargain but they’re few and far between here. But if the influx of the Chinese does wonders for the local economy, who are we to argue?

Weather is good, I feel quite relaxed and I’ve just had dinner at a decent restaurant on the entrance to the shopping village. I don’t think I’ll be paying a return visit, though. It’s quite crowded, for a weekday, and there are queue controls at some shops. I just fancied getting out of London for the afternoon, that’s all. And I also spotted a few people with fake tans and a few facelifts. I have a tan (real) but no facelift. Wimpey Builders would have trouble lifting my face, and I’m quite happy looking at my ugly mug every morning when I have a shave, thank you very much.

As I said, quaint. I appreciate things that are different and Bicester Village certainly is different, but expensive. If I win the Euromillions jackpot, I may return, so that means I won’t return!

Sorry, rambling away, so I’ll bid farewell for now.

A.S.D Brooks

Champagne Super Over…..

YEEEEESSS! The England Cricket team have won the World Cup for the first time since it’s inception in 1975, after one of the dramatic endings to an international match in modern times.

It came down to a super over after the scores were level in normal play. And in the super over, the scores were tied as well. But England scored more 4s and 6s in normal play than New Zealand. It was that close. Thrilling, exciting, heart pumping emotion at the end.

I only saw the last exciting denouement. I was umpiring a match at the club I belong too, and I was trying to concentrate on what was happening in my match and disregarding the excitement off it. Quite a surreal atmosphere on the field, and we all ran off when it was over and huddled round the TV screen in the pavilion, where there about 50 people shouting all sorts of instructions, advice and whatever else came to mind. The raucous cheers that greeted the final ball were exceeded by the crowd at Lord’s. England are World Cup champions at cricket, and I can say I saw it!

My game? Not too bad as it goes. Quite entertaining, another win for the team again. I was on duty on my own today, and really enjoyed the experience. Got all the decisions correct (I think), was in quiet control and just put all the recent problems to the back of my mind. The Sundays have actually prevented me from a possible walk away from the cricket club. I’ve been well looked after, I’ve enjoyed nearly all of the games and my umpiring has been generally ok from week to week. Everyone seems happy, and until I’m told otherwise, I’ll continue enjoying the craic on Sundays. The team are a good bunch and they’ve been unbeaten all season.

No incidents with food today after Friday’s shenanigans with the curry. Ate my tea slowly and savoured every mouthful, rather than wolfing it down. And my Louis Armstrong type voice of yesterday has been replaced by the usual dulcet tones.

So a good day. And I hope there will be more between now and the end of the season in September. But a final note on England’s World Cup winners:- Championes, Championes, Championes, La La La. 14th July 2019 saw England win their first ever Cricket World Cup. Life can be shit at times, but today not so!

A.S.D Brooks

A regal day out….

Yes, indeed. Another day at the beach. And this particular English seaside resort has royal connections.

Bognor Regis in West Sussex. This was where King George V was advised by his doctors in 1929 to take in the sea air to aid his convalescence from lung surgery. The resort was originally just plain Bognor, until the King’s appearance turned it into Bognor Regis, Regis being a suffix pertaining to royalty.

No royalty on show today, just magnificent blue skies, a light breeze and a calm sea, and it was fairly hot, even in late afternoon. Bognor Regis is only 1 hour and 40 minutes from London by train and I didn’t fancy staying indoors today. Also it was a chance to test out my new glasses, and I have to say they are superb. Everything seems so much better with this prescription than the old pair. Crystal clear. So hopefully my umpiring decisions will continue to be up to standard, depending on who you speak to.

Summer in all its glory today, as you can see from the pictures. Continuing the royal theme, I don’t think a knighthood is in the post. King Allen doesn’t ring true, unfortunately. But it was nice to visit a place I haven’t been to before. I went to a local holiday camp four miles away from Bognor Regis back in 1984, but not the main seafront. England at it’s best today, no doubt.

A.S.D Brooks

Here comes the sun…..

I first visited the holiday resort pictured back in 1981. And that week too was warm and sunny. It’s Eastbourne on the South coast of England. The weather has improved from the drab, overcast skies to gloriously sunny this Wednesday afternoon.

Just to prove I was by the sea, there was a bracing easterly wind blowing to keep it pleasantly cool, despite the sun. Now that the good weather is here, I aim to take advantage of it. Just that fresh air and being away from London does it for me.

Then just to prove also that we are in England, the trains went wrong and I had to detour to Brighton by bus. The bus journey from Eastbourne to Brighton is among the most picturesque in the country, if not the world, as the bus makes it’s way up to Beachy Head and twists and turns around the many villages. The views are spectacular, chalk cliffs, the sea, oceans of greenery and that sums up the beauty of certain parts of England. That distracted me from the bottom achingly slow journey back to Brighton. But on a day like this, I’m not going to complain.

Sitting there on that seafront today is like being in that room in heaven. I hope that’s a long way off, but when I get there, endless blue skies, the sea and soft, mellow warmth will be the request from me at St. Peter’s Gate. Perfect.

A.S.D Brooks

Cardboard…

Achy this morning. Why? Because I got sunburnt here in Malta on the 31st March. It was a stunning day yesterday on match day 1 as I will now demonstrate:-

Lovely isn’t it? That’s the only cricket ground on this paradise island, and at 10 am yesterday morning, it was roasting. And not sporting any suncream, I’ve paid the penalty this morning as my joints ache and I’m a bit red in places. Oops.

Result of the game? My team, Essex Seniors, lost a close game to Norfolk Seniors. It was good to watch and I enjoyed scoring. The organiser of the tournament has got an excellent set up going and everyone seems to enjoy it.

Today, not so glorious on the weather front. Cloudy and cooler, but I suppose that’s a relief after yesterday. Had my first decent night’s sleep as well. I never sleep that well on holiday but I was that tired last night that nothing could disturb me. All ready for match day 2 and a must win game if we’re to progress to the next stage. Hope the rain stays away. Don’t mind this cloudy and cool day.

It’s all going well and am not regretting coming along on the trip. Eight days away from the UK is always welcome!

See ya.

A.S.D Brooks

Delightful Day….

A perfect February day. I went to a place called Minnis Bay, which is on the North Kent coast, just along from Margate. It’s tranquil, quiet and very idyllic. The tide goes out a long way and there’s endless sands for having a decent stroll.

And that I did. I don’t take a lot of exercise, but that was much needed. While I ache a little, it was just pleasant just walking from the local train station and taking a circuitous route via the local cliff top to a very nice restaurant, which affords excellent sea views.

Had a very nice meal, reasonably priced and I was impressed with the quality of the food and the service. I haven’t been to Minnis Bay since 2011 but nature hasn’t been spoiled at all. No massive office blocks, plenty of green space and the smell of the sea air. That’ll do for me, every time.

Back in home in London now…..oh well, it can only go downhill from here!

A.S.D Brooks

18 becomes 19…..

So another year ends. The only thing that changes is that the 8 turns into a 9. We all have the same ups and downs that occur during the year, so why should a number change make those any different?

It’s just symbolic isn’t it really. The staleness of the old year replaced by the bright, fresh clarity of the new year. Believe me, plenty of things stay the same. The autism will be with me, every day. The anxiety will be there. But I’m glad that the holidays are finishing and we can all return to normal. I went out for a while this morning, and the shopping areas are busy, and all for what? Just tomorrow. Then on Wednesday, normality returns.

On that note, may I wish all followers and readers of the blog a very happy 2019, and that you enjoy health and happiness. And I mean that most sincerely friends…..to paraphrase an old television host from the 1970s. Don’t get too drunk and try not to make an arse of yourself. I’m staying in, being a right bore and not getting blotto for the sake of it and witnessing others making exhibitions of themselves. Sore head tomorrow? Not for me.

Happy New Year

A.S.D Brooks

Review of 2018 – The Highlights….

As we’re approaching the end of another year, it’s time to look back and reflect on what has gone well for me this year. The events will be in no particular order but will mirror my own personal well being.

  • Presentations – Really have enjoyed doing these and there is the prospect of more in 2019.
  • Enjoyed volunteering with SANE, One Place East, Thrive LDN and Maytree and meeting new people.
  • Cricket tour to Portugal in October.
  • The whole summer of glorious sunny weather and for a change, getting a suntan in the UK
  • Watching the mental health play called WEIRD, and connecting with the writer Lucy Burke and performer Amy Doyle.
  • Going to Edinburgh to watch said play.
  • The football team I support, Leyton Orient, top of the National League with a chance of returning to the SkyBet Football League.
  • Enjoying following one of my favourite sports, National Hunt racing and picking out winners!
  • So lots of good stuff. On the other hand…..
  • A.S.D Brooks
  • A Christmas Message….

    At 10.30 pm on Xmas Eve, rather than 3pm on Xmas Day. No crown and no posh voice. Just little old me….

    Enjoy….if you can.

    A.S.D Brooks