Jeremy Irons: “You can’t get closer to the heart of England”
September 25th, 2009 by Edward Craig in England, Miscellaneous
Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons discusses the joys of cricket with Edward Craig
I played cricket when I was at school. I suffered indignity after indignity. I used to sit there on the boundary for hours, trying to make grass burn with a magnifying glass. I would make the sandwiches for tea. That was what I did, more of a helper.
We had a Sunday team. Called the Duckhunters, we organised it at school but played outside of school territory. It meant we could get out to cricket grounds that were next to pubs. A great excuse for drinking and the most fun I’ve had in cricket.
I would fancy being a bowler if I played properly. The strain of standing there as a batsman wondering what was going to come down outweighs any pleasure. The gruelling mind game of bowling appeals to me more. You get a second chance and there’s an element of mind control that a bowler has over a batsmen.
Local, rural cricket shows the unchanging quality of British culture. There is something essentially English and calm, ordered and measured, yet with an element of unknown and excitement about village cricket. You can’t get much closer to the heart of England than sitting on a beautiful summer’s day watching cricket.
I hadn’t followed the Ashes this summer. I was in London when we won one of the Test matches, with a friend in St John’s Wood and she thought the world had exploded at one point. She could hear the roar of the audience with each wicket.
There are a few films about sport. In films you have to focus on characters and people and you have situations in sport which allows you to do that. Film is about what’s going on in people’s heads and hearts rather than a particular game. But if we care about the person who is in the game it can make for a good film.
Harold Pinter was very furious about his cricket. I remember seeing his study full of cricket books. It was a very important part of his life.
The portrait of Harold Pinter (pictured with Jeremy Irons and actors Henry Woolf, Indira Varma and Colin Firth at the Olivier Theatre in London) is being auctioned this Sunday (September 27) at Lord’s with all proceeds going to The Taverners. Bids for the portrait can be made via email: firstname.lastname@example.org