The tallest cricketer ever

As it’s Christmas week, I thought I’d create my own version of the advent calendar, but without the chocolate.
Like so many of many ideas, I’ve had it rather late, so instead of 25 days worth, there’s just going to be 5.

Each day this week I will post one of my favourite BBC TV reports from the past year. Kicking off today with the tallest cricketer ever to have played professional cricket. I caught up with him at Leicestershire for the start of the season, along with his rather smaller batting partner.

Click below to open the window. (He said trying to keep the Advent calendar theme going, even though you can clearly see from the YouTube clip who is behind that window!)

Broad cast

Stuart Broad has done the business for England’s cricketers on the opening day of the Ashes Tour.

I caught up with the young bowler last week, just before he flew off to Australia

The man with his head on upside down

It’s been raining a lot lately, so it must be time for the cricket season to get underway.  In fact it’s the earliest ever start to a county championship season.

I filmed at Derbyshire this week. The county have performed a huge about turn. After years of playing with the sun in their eyes, someone had the bright idea of rotating the pitch ninety degrees.  So now at the end of the day, when the sun is setting low in the western sky, it doesn’t matter, because they’re playing north/south.

Why on earth didn’t someone think of that earlier. Well to be fair, it’s only a problem late in the day.  In the old days they would have stopped before the sun was dazzling the batsmen.  Since the innovation of day night games, which start in the afternoon and finish under floodlights, there’s been problems. 

Cameraman Neil films as they move the floodlights

I met former Derbyshire president, TV presenter Nick Owen at the ground. I was surprised. I knew he was chairman of Luton Town, but I didn’t know of the link with Derbyshire. He told me he’d been a fan all his life, and his mum used to be the scorer at Buxton cricket club.  He’s definitely not a glory hunter, Derbyshire haven’t won anything in seventeen years, and can boast only four honours in their history.

Nick told me it had been embarrassing when ‘sun stopped play’ during live games on Sky. So he was delighted the pitch had been moved round.

Not sure what Neil is doing here, but he’s keen, so I let him get on with it.

At Trent Bridge I met the man with the most distinctive beard in test cricket. Hashim Amla is a South African batsmen who’s come to play for Nottinghamshire. You’ll recognise him as the man who looks like he has his head on upside down. He sports a magnificent WG Grace beard, but with a shaven head.

Me and WG

He gave me a cracking interview for TV. His beard is part of his strong muslim faith, which also means he refuses to wear alcohol sponsorship logos on his kit. Up till now, his wishes have been observed, and it won’t be a problem at Notts who don’t have any beers splashed across their shirts. Well not till after the game anyway.

With Hashim’s beard and Ryan Sidebottom’s trademark curly locks, it looks like being a hairy season for Nottinghamshire.

Jem  – Nottingham  9th April 2010