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The Stuff Of Our Century (31-40)

To celebrate the recent publication of our 100th issueAOC staffers and contributors put their heads together and came up with list of the hundred things that made our century what it was (starting May 2004). In no particular order, here is the fourth 10 of our ton.

The Sprinkler Dance

When people who know nothing about cricket point out your one-year-old daughter unknowingly mimicking the Sprinkler you have – and of this there are many – a Swann-induced phenomenon. I for one can’t wait for the ‘lawnmower’, the ‘card-dealer’ or the ‘jockey’ when England overcome the old foe this coming summer. Will Smith

Why we love it: Cricket was due its own dance move. 

Incentives For Homegrown Talent

Ever since the Slovakian handball player Maros Kolpak won a European Court ruling about freedom to work in 2003, county cricket has tied itself in knots over the volume of non-England-qualified players. Incentives for counties to select England-qualified players were first introduced in 2005 but it was only in 2010 that the system really took effect when there was serious money on offer for picking English players under 26. The goal was to avoid fixtures like the 2009 Championship clash between Northants, or the ‘Steelboks’ as they were unaffectionately known, and Leicestershire when 12 of the 22 players were non-England- qualified, 10 of them from South Africa. There is a downside: many in the game now worry that the quality of competition is being sacrificed and that Division Two is, at times, glorified 2nd XI cricket. John Stern

Why we love it: Reclaiming the county game from the jet-setting mercenaries.

Chris Martin’s Batting

It takes a special kind of ineptitude to score fewer runs than you take wickets, but the Kiwi No.11 has done it with consummate ease, claiming almost twice as many Test victims as he has scored runs. At the time of writing, in 102 innings he’s scored 123 runs at an average of 2.41, racking up 28 ducks in the time it took AOC to put together 100 issues. He takes it in good humour though. Check out Learn To Bat Like Chris Martin on YouTube, if you haven’t already. Paul Winslow

Why we love it: He’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Gayle Smashes Through Final Frontier

On day one of the first Test between West Indies and Bangladesh in November 2012, when Chris Gayle picked up his 3lb semi-automatic drilling machine and strolled out to bat at Dhaka, 49,520 days and 2,056 Tests had passed since Charles Bannerman faced the first ball in Test cricket. In all that time no bowler in history had been subjected to the humiliation of watching the opening delivery of a match disappear over the rope for six. Poor old debutant offie Sohag Gazi suffered just that indignity as Gayle lifted his first ball high over long on and into the stands. Jeff Thomas

Why we love it: The cheek and the bravado.

Jimmy Taylor And Will Jefferson In Partnership

County cricket’s ‘Little and Large’ show. The sight of 6ft 10in opener Will Jefferson and 5ft 6in James Taylor batting together for Leicestershire was a dream for photographers and headline writers alike. Chris Knight

Why we love it: A reminder that cricket is a sport for players of all shapes and sizes.

Will Jefferson and James Taylor batting together

Kim Hughes And The Bad Old Days Of Australian Cricket By Christian Ryan

Celestial talent, flaky curly-haired aesthete, liquor lightweight, shot-inventor, doomed captain, tragic hero. Kim Hughes was once in charge of Australian cricket’s mafia, but he wasn’t like them – the Chappells, Lillee, Marsh – and it would end in tears. It was also his fate to come up against Botham in ’81. “If he is remembered at all, it’s as the captain who cried when he quit at a press conference”, writes Ryan, of a very Australian story. One of the great cricket books of our century. Phil Walker

Why we love it: Funny, true, poignant, Australian.

Jimmy Anderson On The Cover Of Attitude Magazine

The better England became at cricket, the better-looking they seemed to become as well. A team boasting Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Alastair Cook helped to put the bad old days of mullets and moustaches well and truly behind them. Girls weren’t alone in being thrilled. In September 2010, Jimmy became the first cricketer to pose on the cover of gay magazine Attitude. “If there are any gay cricketers,” he told the magazine, “they should feel confident enough to come out, because I don’t think there is homophobia in cricket.” Tom Holland

Why we love it: Because the reaction of the cricket world to Jimmy posing bare-chested in jeans and boots showed that he was right.

Safe Passage To India

One day you were waking up in your Taj Palace hotel room, wondering what to have for breakfast. Two weeks later you watch it burning as terrorists attack. It sent shivers down the spine of every England player during the ’08 tour of India and they had no choice but to leave. Cue frantic meetings in Dubai about a possible return with beefed up security. Many didn’t want to go back, but captain Kevin Pietersen took a courageous lead and did the right thing for India and for cricket. They were met with a hero’s welcome upon their return. Dean Wilson

Why we love it: The show must go on.

The Forward Press

Duncan Fletcher never said much but the man knew his batting. His introduction of the ‘forward press’ among English batsmen is as relevant now as it was when he first took over the national side. The use of this initial small step as the spinner releases the ball allows the batsman more points of reference to judge the flight of the ball and allows (if employed correctly) quicker movement to get forward and back to the spinner. Arun Harinath

Why we love it: Trescothick, Thorpe and Vaughan swear by it, and what works for them, works for us.

The Enduringly Indiscreet Charms Of Bill Lawry

Once upon a time, he bored for Australia. He fancies pigeons more than reverse sweeps and sounds as if he’s perpetually warding off the world’s worst cold, but when it comes to both celebrating and policing the game, untainted by hesitation or discretion, none can compare with the old Bill. Rob Steen

Why we love it: “Aw, that’s a grate showt. C’mon, Richie, tell ’em about that time I hooked Trueman for six. Please…”

Stay tuned for the rest of the gear, gizmos, gaffes and spine-tingling moments that made our century what it was.

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