Shoaib, Bouch and Symmo

Writing a biography is, I imagine, a little like ‘character acting’. In order to play a president or prime minister in a movie, actors must invest a significant amount of their own soul and personality into the person they are portraying in order to achieve authenticity.

The book option is far easier in that we can hide in our studies and hibernate while we ‘invest’ in our subject. I wouldn’t dare complain because there are a thousand less desirable ways to make a living, but – just for interest’s sake – it is the hardest work I have done. Some would say it’s the closest I’ve ever come to hard work.

Perhaps I’m just too slow for the job. But how do you write faster? It would be easier if it was in my name, but this time it is in the name of Mark Verdon Boucher. I’m sure he won’t mind me telling you, he was a reluctant starter. But that’s because he was taking the subject too seriously – not the subject of himself, but the subject of a book. They don’t have to be too serious or graphic.

When he finally found a format and tempo which suited him, we were off and running.

There are no punches pulled. Typically, he is honest and forthright. Does he have regrets? Yes. But shining out from behind the truths and verbal punches is Boucher’s ability to tell a story which, hopefully, will put smiles on the faces of those who buy the book. We’re still many hundreds of hours away from publication and the copy hasn’t even received its first edit, but I have been chided for my recent leave of absence from this column so, by way of compensation, here’s a ‘raw’ bit of text which might bring back a few memories:

After a couple of frightening bouncers which almost took his head off, Symmo wandered down the pitch to have a chat: ‘Listen here, Bouch,’ he said, ‘I think I’ve got a plan for us. When this guy bowls a bouncer Moin Khan is standing so far back I think we can take a cheeky single to the ‘keeper. That way we can keep the scoreboard ticking over and it will also really piss these guys off – and we can keep growing the partnership as well.’

I said: ‘Great, Symmo – let’s do it!’

The very next ball Shoaib bounced him again and Symmo just took off for the non-striker’s end without a call – he just put his head down and ran. I responded and ran down to the striker’s end. Excellent, it worked. So I assumed that was the game-plan from then on, or at least until the Pakistanis did something to change the situation.

A couple of balls later I was facing and Shoaib bounced me. I looked back to see Moin taking the ball above his head about 30 metres away so I took off for another bye. But Symmo stood at the non-striker’s end leaning on his bat…

Bouch – Through my Eyes will be published by Jonathan Ball

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