street talk playing the game

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The Independent Online
It's not that you won or lost but how you played the game that counts. But you trying telling that to these colonial chappies Maoris, Tongans, Samoans - brushing England's manhood aside like flies from their afternoon tea. We're not in their league, the papers say, outplayed at every step. You take your eye off the ball and here they come, a few flying tackles and they've won the grand slam leaving us looking like a sorry bunch of dropkicks. They say we're no match for them, that we have no game plan, but let me kick that idea into touch. They may have sold us a few dummies but the truth is they just don't play the game. I'm not saying they play dirty but they've moved the goalposts and don't understand the meaning of fair play.

As for the Americans, well at least they had the decency to invent their own silly games. I was at a board meeting last week and this chappie said it was time to play hardball. When I asked him what on earth he meant he said was I ready to step up to the plate or was I some kind of a switch hitter? Well, really. If I wasn't prepared to name a ballpark figure, he said, he'd assume I'd struck out, but never mind, he'd take a raincheck. No idea what he was going on about.

Still, the Test match starts tomorrow, though we always seem to be on a bit of a sticky wicket with these West Indians. It's just not cricket when they bowl so fast that all you can do is grit your teeth and try to play a straight bat. Then when we bowl at them we get knocked for six . I've had a good innings but if this is how the game is to be played I say we might as well up stumps and go home. Well, if we can't grind out an honourable draw there's always the chance of rain spoiling their chance of another hat trick.

And failing that, there is Wimbledon. But that's gone the same way. These tall fellows serve up an ace, then another, then it's game, set and match to love before you're half-way through your first punnet of strawberries. Oh, I remember, when it was played as it should be. Fred Perry, he bestrode the Centre Court like a colossus. And Ginnie Wade, lovely gel, simply lovely.