There is a peculiar time in every cricket fans life when they turn into a bleary eyed zombie.
No, it is not the reaction to a string of golden ducks or trying to open the bowling after a date with Johnnie Walker the previous evening. It’s the bloody Ashes, which, much to my excitement starts later this week.
The Ashes is, as we all know, the name for the cricket series between the gentlemen of England and the tobacco chewing, child eating rapscallions of Australia.
A wonderful international duel of men where political correctness is thrown out of the window quicker than rock star can a hotel television set.
The issue is not with the cricket – I will endeavour to watch and listen to as much as possible. No, dear reader, it is the bally timing of the wonderful sporting event that is the fly in the ointment, the weed in the rose bush or the lame horse in The Derby.
Now, when England hosts the biennial series we have the good grace to play at GMT. This means that that after a full day’s play the much maligned cricket fan can enjoy a decent supper and a full seven hours kip.
However, our Australian cousins have the temerity to start play at midnight. This anti-social staging renders the usually wholesome England cricket fan into a dribbling mess who creaks and shakes their way through the day, and barely sleeps in the night.
Oh dear reader feel for old Splendid Red over these winter months – living like a vampire but dancing in the sun. I suspect I may need to be resuscitated at Christmas lunch when I fall asleep in my lagoon of gravy. Nevertheless, there is something joyful, almost ethereal, about being a cricket fan during an away series.
Some fools will nap at nine o’clock and arise at midnight for the opening gambit. Chumps.
I, who has had many years to hone my craft, will have a late and large evening meal. No skipping the carbs here chaps! The post prandial stroll in the cold winter air is key and enlivening, what is more it is often enhanced by a couple of winter ales.
Once back at base camp the television becomes a necessary ally. I like to share a whisky or a light claret with the chatty TV and settle in; mind you there is no need to go overboard on the booze as sleep is not the point of this exercise.
That said, you will fall asleep periodically over the first two hours of play and an hour after lunch is usually the acceptable time to slip into some silk pyjamas and go to bed.
This is where the somewhat loopy part of the night commences.
Once the lights are off it is necessary to pop on the wireless and visit the wonderful, eccentric world of Test Match Special (TMS).
Here one drifts in and out of sleep with the TMS’s commentary team – Aggers, Cat Tufnell and Swanny – punctuating the evening’s designated reboot. Furthermore, I find that the small passages of nod that I do get are shared with vivid dreams of cricket. Sometimes I am parachuted into the game in Australia or my reverie brings me the wrong scores, which is rather discombobulating when I arise to the actual one.
And, before you know it the sun rises like a bleeding heart and one must start the fresh English day, as well as preparing oneself for the next four days of Test cricket (less if the brittle English middle order has anything to do with it!)
So, if you see some strange old bean with thick bags under their eyes, an earphone plugged muttering to themselves: “17-2…31 overs…Joe Root…thank Christ for Joe Root.”
Do not cast your aspersions upon them, no, easier to approach them carefully and pat them on the back sending them on their merry way.