At the captain's table

By David Robson, July 31, 2014
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No Jew has ever played cricket for England which seems both unfair and a mistake. Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, yes, but nary an Israelite, unless you count the great Fred Trueman who discovered late in life that his maternal grandmother was one of us (by contrast with doctor-director-intellectual Jonathan Miller who said of himself "I'm not really a Jew, just Jew-ish", Fred told the JC he was happy to be called a Jew, though you'd be pushed to find anyone less Jew-ish).

True, there has never been a Jewish cricketer good enough to play for England, but that is not much of an argument - dozens of not-good-enough cricketers have played for England. England cricket is deep in the wilderness. Perfect! We Jews are a nation formed by the wilderness. England cricket at present is essentially a tale of tsores and nobody knows more about tsores than we do. We thrive on tsores. We know how to enjoy it.

Clearly the England cricket selectors don't know the magnificent joke about the Jewish man who made a fortune and bought himself a large yacht. He kitted himself out in a braided naval jacket and a nautical cap. Then he invited his old Yiddishe mum to come and see it. "This is my yacht, mother, and I'm the captain," he declared proudly. She looked him over: "By you, you're a captain, by me, you're a captain. But by a captain, are you a captain?" At least three of the best England captains of recent times have said England's Alastair Cook isn't a captain. Yet captain he remains.

Ed Miliband is Jewish and he's Labour's captain, though whether by a captain he's a captain is far from clear. David Cameron is obviously some sort of a captain. He also claims to have Jewish connections - he told the Knesset his great-great-grandfather was a Jew (azoy, as they say at Eton). It's as close to Jewish as his cabinet gets. Cameron's new line-up is more McVey than oy vey (though in another way it's pretty oy vey too).

The cabinet is more McVey than Oy Vey

These summer domestic tragi-comedies are a useful distraction from the seriously perturbing things that are going on elsewhere. And talking of tragi-comedies, would England have done any worse in the World Cup if Rooney had been replaced by an unknown called Rubin? They couldn't have done.

As a distraction from these distractions I have been watching Orange Is The New Black, the Netflix women's prison drama. For me there is only one disappointment - the Jews. All we get is the central character's wimpish fiancé and his lawyer father and doting mother. Stereotyping. Why no tattooed, cropped, Jewish lesbian bank robber? That's what I'd like to know.

All the above are stories of losers. We're failures at sport, Cameron hasn't won a general election yet and the women's federal prison isn't exactly the Carlton at Cannes. In every case they go down fighting (sort of). Change the cast and let's see them go down kvetching.

    Last updated: 5:45pm, July 31 2014