Glory Be

There is a quality in human affairs, so rare, so fleeting and so intense that to invoke its name in any context risks derision. To invoke its name in the context of sport must seem especially perverse, pretentious, preposterous and pathetic. I have always flirted with those four mockable Ps and nothing can stop me now. Even a reasonable night’s sleep hasn’t diminished the euphoria that sees me now unleashing a peal of eulogistic superlatives and hyperbolic encomia that can only bring me taunts, yawns and snorts.

What is this quality, so rarified, so prized? It is Glory. Glory is a golden word to be used, like saffron, in sparing pinches. Religion has always loved it, and tried to deny it to the sublunary sphere. Gloria, gloria; Gloria in excelsis Deo. Glory be to the Father. Solomon in all his glory. Our glorious dead. It has often been observed of war that while it is rightly hated and feared for bringing out the worst in humankind, it cannot be denied that it can sometimes bring out the best too. It is one of the few human arenas that can produce true glory.

Sport, of course, developed as a rehearsal for war and today often serves as a kind of proxy. Cricket, so yawn-inducing to those who do not understand it, so enthralling and all-embracingly perfect for those who do, can bring out glory like no other sport. Yesterday afternoon at the Brit Oval, Glory streamed to the wicket and turned a match and a series around in little over an hour. The twenty-three year old Stuart Broad is certainly the best-looking cricketer we have ever produced. Melting looks, golden hair, eyes of the bluest blue, he is six foot six of heart-stopping youthful splendour. He has not had the best series as a bowler. Perhaps under orders from above he bowled a spell of short-pitched rubbish at Lord’s that almost caused him to be booed by the St John’s Wood faithful. There were calls for him to be dropped. But yesterday he was glorious. There really is no other word.

I hope it will be a long career. He has the makings of a truly great all-rounder. I hope his looks, the inevitable commercial contracts and the attention don’t turn his head or distract him from his cricket. But he will never have another afternoon like the second day of the 5th Test of the 2009 Ashes Series. His third “Michelle” (Five-for = Pfeiffer, geddit?) and coming at the most crucial time imaginable. Real glory. Of course, England being England, we could still lose the test and fail to win the Ashes, but that shouldn’t detract from a golden afternoon for cricket’s golden boy. In the words of “O worship the King”.

“O tell of his might, O sing of his grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space.”

That great hymn ends with a paean to all the great cricketers in history, a pantheon Stuart Broad will join…

“Pavilioned in splendour and girded with praise”.

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23 comments on “Glory Be”

  1. Wolfman says:

    I am sure that you have hit he nail on the head. Let us hope that the rest of the team have been able to reflect upon the impact that Mr Broad has had on the game and rise up to the challenge set by him. If they carry in their hearts some of the pride that Stuart must have in his English heart, they will surely strive for the runs that will deliver the result that all England expects.

  2. talodi says:

    Glory Be to the wonder of Stuart Broad – indeed he may England’s only hope of enticing some younger females to take an interest in the sport! Such a golden glorious delight!

  3. RobT says:

    Stephen, yesterday was Broadys 3rd Michelle, but was undoubtedly his most important. Heres to the rest of the test, and hopefully an England victory.

  4. David Poulton says:

    Yesterdays glorious (yes it WAS glorious!) performance brought back memories of gathering together with friends, during the school summer holidays, to watch the series which became known as Botham’s Ashes. While Broads contribution to the Series as a whole can’t be viewed on that level, it may well prove to be the performance which brings the Ashes back to England… I await this mornings play with anticipation!

  5. Fi says:

    A GLORIOUS concoction of perfect erudition that is sublime. The English language is alive and well and in Mr Fry’s safe, tender and nurturing hands.

    I’m not a cricket fan, but have always liked the IDEA. I like to take a peek at the local village team playing their games in the grounds of the manor house. Mr Fry’s enthusiasm and love of the sport could convert me. I’m sure it will be a long road to learn about it though.

  6. Becca_Piano says:

    “…but that shouldn’t detract from a golden afternoon for cricket’s golden boy.”

    Your lovely, poetic, brilliant words made me wander into a reverie of a different golden afternoon…

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

    All in the golden afternoon
    Full leisurely he bats
    Before our eyes, with glorious skill
    With sinewy arms & lats
    His manly hands make greatness; our
    Minds wandering, in trance.

    ~~~~~~~

    I’d have done better, and perhaps have done all the stanzas, but it’s quite late here. –I didn’t know what half of the terms were, as I don’t know cricket, but I do know and love glorious writing. ..saffron; the four P’s; and, as usual, you have provided me with yet another great future name for a band : “Hyperbolic Encomia”.

    Cheers, and may your team enjoy a glorious bounty of success. -Becca

  7. BacchusHedonist says:

    Splendid eulogy Mr F. Why do those of us who snort with derision at the crassness of Twenty20 still get such a meteoric rush to a clatter of wickets!!! How football ever became known as The Beautiful Game when it is cartoon compared to the majestic tapestry that is Cricket will for ever pain me.
    However that pain is eclipsed by the sheer bath of pleasure I am currently wallowing in following yesterdays play. Dare we believe we’re nearly there… enjoy the day Mr F, for these are rare indeed.

  8. James Thomson says:

    Obvious which pole you’re currently at.

  9. happy_man says:

    Ode to a cricketer

    I am captivated by Stephen’s eloquent appreciation of the game and in particular, of blondes with a fine lob. Everyone loves an unpredictable swinger that teases ones sensibilities, displays well girded loins and arouses one’s morning glory. All too much before a stiff gin and my morning Daily Mail. Thank you Stephen.

  10. nonoyesyes says:

    No doubt about it! A fine tribute.
    Your vision brings it to life here on your page!
    The glory of the game in it’s entirety!
    The glory of WINNING….
    Of overcoming great odds to possess that special moment in time! Ah yes! …Glory!
    Of course your blog today says it all….
    And as I was watching the Cricket on SBS last night I witnessed this for myself!
    I hope too that this rather good looking fellow does not have his head turned by too much admiration of his physical encasing!
    Of course it is the game and his skill that will be the value to the game of Cricket!
    Thank you: as usual you write a well worded, perfectly comprehensible blog!
    Carry on!
    Regards
    nahatsu

  11. Alice Klar says:

    I was put off cricket as a child having been dragged every summer weekend to watch my dad play.

  12. Stirling222 says:

    I had pictured Stuart Broad when I read Moab. Does he remind you of someone from school, Stephen? :)

  13. elhambra says:

    Very Well Put.

  14. Aurora says:

    …uhm …I guess you won …Good! :)

  15. Gerti says:

    How someone so euphoric (and slightly fanboyish ? ;o)) is still able to produce such a glorious miniblog, I do not know. But I am very happy for you that things are going so well for England! By the way, typing into a tiny mobile requires VERY delicate fingers… Well, I´d better stop before I start to sound too fangirly, but I´ll keep my fingers crossed :o)

  16. judinw8 says:

    Young Mr. Broad is certainly candy for the eyes! I, too hope he has a long, healthy career on the pitch.
    As someone born and raised in the US, I have come to the love of cricket late in life. My first two years in London the game was a total mystery.
    I was fortunate to sit down for lunch one day with a few young men who were more than happy to explain the game’s basics to me and have grown to love the game as my understanding grew.
    Now I am the resident expert (a laughable term to any true cricket fan), in my home town of Portland Oregon (west coast)
    I enjoy your blogs as I always find at least one new word to look up in the dictionary. My education, both in sport and vocabulary, continues.

  17. wisecur says:

    Once went to a match in Leeds and the crowd were the most exciting part.No fan looking for a fight in the name of there sport.
    But as a game I just cannot get into it.Tried time and again.
    Oh well it may be my Scottish blood.May they play well and the best side win.

  18. Selma says:

    Goodness, I know as well as any what brings on words like those (and for me it’s usually he of music or film, but sport will do).

    It’s an odd dilema, the admiration of skill torn at by the somewhat overwhelming distraction provided by other aspects of the possessor of the former. One must ask oneself whether it really is the skill which impresses, and the answer, while making some self-evident avoidance of the real quesiton, is usually that yes, the skill is the drawing factor. But the other can’t be ignored.

    Which leads to the inevitable “Oh pants!” or similar. Possibly even “Stinky poo, stinky poo, knickers knickers knickers” if Terrance is to come into it.

    Anyway, good luck with that. He really is a damn good cricketer. Yeah, that’s it. Damn good.

  19. MayorBee says:

    Looks like golden boy has a spot of herpes in that photo :S

  20. ianfennell says:

    Oh glorious summer. Mine is the long suffering of the Sussex supporter rendered painless by unbridled success. Mine is the obscure branding- a gay cricket fan, made eutopic by the golden boys Oval endeavours, my handsome sporting hero- and a sport of no adopted obsession.
    Mine is a share in this glory upon the 10th to fall. Be it by sweat, by dusty pitch or bizarre conclusion by the hatted man. bring it on oh Sunday. Make my joy complete.

  21. michaeljra says:

    I was standing about 10 places behind you in the “line” for Customs when I read this. That was an odd experience, I must say…

    I have found an Australian bar in Greenwich called “Eight Mile Creek” which is showing the Ashes today. The English/Irish bars do not seem interested. Wife and I heading there shortly.

  22. charlesm says:

    Broad was certainly a ‘baby-faced Aussassin’ on Friday! Long may he keep sending England’s opponents pavilion-wards.

  23. scoobydo says:

    Batty. All quite batty.

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