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Cricket in Borat's Village
on 9 February 2007
Good bladder control is needed at certain parts of this excellent book by young Scottish writer Angus Bell. He got into his baterred Skoda and went off to find strange characters who play cricket in places like Belarus and Slovenia - many parts could be mistaken for Borat's village. Bell photographs a bus painted (mysteriously in English) with the slogan "Ministry for Emergency Situations for Strong and Prosperous Belarus!" He has great difficulty escaping this God-awful country for lack of seventy cents. I laughed so hard I nearly suffered side strain.
His adventures are so varied, from being bullied by bombastic city types when about to play on ice in Estonia, to watching gypsies being arrested for drug smuggling on the midnight express to Istanbul. (Shades of John Hurt being violated by prison guards came to mind.) Bell left the old Skoda parked in Bulgaria and was on his way to Turkey to try and slog the first intercontinental six. He smites a ball from Europe into Asia; this is surely a Guiness Book of Records feat.
This highly amusing book, full of crazy incidents and remarkable characters, is also wonderfully illustrated. A photograph of two elderly Slovak babushkas quotes them saying to the author: "Yes, but we are old and we have herpes".
Anyone who likes travel books will be delighted to see such a new talent emerge. And as for cricket buffs...they'd be daft to miss out on this unique perspective on their sport.