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Henry Cowen

The Ten: Cricket & Cheese

by Henry Cowen

Cheese. Why ever not? We’re an optimistic bunch at AOC and in the wake of KP’s cheese-heavy memoirs it occurred to Henry Cowen (very much a Jarlsberg man) to use Matt Prior as a starting point to find nine more cricket-and-cheese stories. Where there’s a will there’s a whey. 


There’s only one place to start: ‘The Big Cheese’, ‘Le Grand Fromage’, “the Dairylea triangle thinking he’s brie”. Kevin Pietersen’s descriptions of Matt Prior are numerous and cheesy; if Jarlsberg made wicketkeepers… But Prior is no more, he’s past his sell-by date, he’s matured too much and he’s been replaced by a younger, fresher wedge in Jos Buttler. Fortunately England’s cheese connection lives on in Buttler. His first senior club? Cheddar CC. Thank the lord for that.


Back in 1992, former Middlesex man Simon Hughes was having a nice bit of tucker with teammate Ian Botham. After a few wines – Beef’s not averse to the odd sip of claret, you know – he fancied a bit of cheese, as all right-thinking people would.

“Can you bring me some Dolcetti?” he asked the waiter.
“Don’t you mean Dolcelatte?” Hughes nipped in.
“That’s what I said, Dolcetti,” replied Beef.
“No, it’s Dolcelatte,” Hughes insisted.

Beef, by this stage suitably hacked off, retorted with the now infamous line: “Well, how many bloody Test wickets did you get?”


At Trent Bridge, in the first Test of the 2013 Ashes series, Stuart Broad nicked a ball from Ashton Agar to slip, via Brad Haddin’s glove, and didn’t move. Much to everyone’s surprise, including Broad’s, he wasn’t given out and went on to add 28 to his tally as England won the Test by just 14 runs. When Darren Lehmann accused Broad of “blatant cheating”, Broad replied: “Cricket is quite an old-fashioned sport and is still viewed in some quarters as ‘you should have a cup of tea and everything will be fine’. But let’s make no mistake about it, we are not playing for a cheese sandwich, we are playing for an Ashes series.” Later that year, in Oz, Broad and his mates won exactly as many Tests as a cheese sandwich would have.


Want to know what it takes to be one of the best cricketers of all time? Just follow the athletic diet plan of a certain Shane Warne. Back in 2005, when asked about his success and how his life had changed as a professional cricketer over the
 years, Warne said: “My diet is still pizzas, chips, toasted cheese sandwiches and milkshakes.” He gets variation points for toasting his cheese but if he ditched the pizzas, chips and milkshakes in favour of a bit more cheese, he may have become one of the world’s best.


During Sri Lanka’s 2014 tour of England, Shaminda Eranga managed to bag a bizarre double. Not only was he the victim of
 the least-celebrated hat-trick of all time (nobody – including the bowler, Stuart Broad – realising it had been taken) he was also struck by an ellipsoid-shaped cheese in the form of a Babybel © (other cheeses are available). With the seamer minding
 his own business on the boundary at Headingley, the pasteurised projectile came from the Western Terrace stand behind him. Play was stopped as the umpires inspected the offending missile but Eranga got no sympathy from his teammates. “It was cheese, not a rock,” explained a smiling Dinesh Chandimal, a man who has clearly never been struck by be-waxed Edam.

Cookie chefs up another cheesy wotsit

Cookie chefs up another cheesy wotsit


“Predictable, one-paced and not in-keeping with modern culinary methods,” imaginary critics may have said of Alastair Cook’s decision to cook a cheese and onion tart for last year’s Chance To Dine if they were trying to make a lazy comparison with Cook’s ODI record. Run by Chance To Shine, this year was the third Chance To Dine event and it was the third to be won by Alastair ‘Chef’ Cook. “I genuinely can’t believe that I’ve somehow managed to win with a cheese and onion tart,” added England’s Test skipper. We can, Cooky, we can.


In the summer of 1956, Jim Laker, one of England’s greatest ever bowlers, pulled off the incredible feat of taking 19 wickets out of 20 in a Test match – you all know the story. But what you may not know is that the Surrey spinner chose to celebrate the record on his own with a pint and a cheese sandwich in his local.


Close your eyes and you can still see it. Everyone’s favourite cheese-eating leg-spinner rolls up to the crease and sends down that extraordinary delivery. Poor Mike Gatting at the other end can do nothing but helplessly watch it grip and turn past his bat. The moment is Warne’s; Gatting is blameless to everyone. Well, not quite everyone: Graham Gooch, ever the joker, commented: “If it had been a cheese roll,
 it would never have got past him.” It’s a crazy comment, really. Hitting a cheese roll would be nigh on impossible due to its lack of bounce and the fact it has no ball-like features at all but hey, maybe we’re over-analysing it.


The idea of dinner at Geoff Boycott’s doesn’t immediately fill you with images of warm hearths and sing-alongs around the piano. In his autobiography (imaginatively titled My Autobiography) Dickie Bird recalls the one and only time he was invited over to lunch at Boycs’: “When I arrived at fortress Boycott, I found that the gates were locked, and Boycs, teasing me on the intercom, would not let me in.” Classic. Bird then proceeded to climb over the wall and was met at the door by a smiling Boycott who invited him in for lunch. Unfortunately for Dickie, it wasn’t everything he was hoping for: “I was looking forward
 to some Yorkshire puddings and roast beef, what I got was a toasted cheese sandwich.”


England’s Tim Bresnan enjoyed a year 
to remember in 2012. He continued his winning run in the national side (taking his tally of Test victories to a perfect 10 out 
of 10), signed his first central contract and played his part in England becoming the No.1 Test team in the world. Perhaps most importantly – individually at least – he was named one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year and was described, beautifully, by Tanya Aldred as having “the air of a man with an emergency cheese sandwich in
his back pocket”. When asked in a follow- up interview whether he had a cheese sandwich on him, Bresnan replied: “Yes. Yes, I do. It’s got Branston Pickle on it as well.” Saucy.

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