Peter Rhodes on the benefits of cricket, a warning of war and a glitch in Test and Trace

Read the latest column from Peter Rhodes.

Invented by your mum?
Invented by your mum?

Money Box (Radio 4) told how a woman was refused a home-test kit for Covid-19 because she didn't have any credit history. That may explain why some applications are being turned down online. But is it the full story?

A reader tells me she made two online applications for the kit. Each time the system refused her because they could not confirm her identity. At her third attempt, by phone, the NHS operator noticed her address on the electoral roll was slightly different to the one on her GP's form. The human sorted out in seconds a problem that stumped the computer.

In a cheery little briefing, the head of UK Armed Forces, General Sir Nick Carter, says there is a real risk of a Third World War if current, smaller conflicts escalate out of control. He reckons a global economic crisis, possibly caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, could trigger new security threats, including war. So it's a timely moment to repeat the old warning, variously attributed to Einstein, Lord Louis Mountbatten, a clutch of generals and others: “If the Third World War is fought with nuclear weapons, the Fourth World War will be fought with bows and arrows.” Start sharpening those arrowheads now, folks.

Lose an election in Britain and you're out of 10 Downing Street with your furniture in a van before you can say Pickfords. In the States, the president hangs on in the White House for seven weeks after the election result. In this case the defeated president, Donald Trump, looks like using the time for what one pundit calls “the greatest political temper tantrum in history,” denouncing the voting as illegal and preaching poison in a land where thousands believe their country is being taken over by some shadowy elite, and about 300 million guns are in private hands. Most Americans may welcome Joe Biden as president. They may vote for him, admire him, applaud him. But can they protect him?

We look at Trump in disgust and despair. Why could he simply not play the game, play a straight bat and walk back to the pavilion? Probably because Americans didn't learn their social rules from cricket. Try telling them that it's taking part, not winning, that matters and they genuinely don't understand. Their culture is all about winning. Over here, a good loser is a person to be admired. In American popular culture, a good loser is still a loser.

Americans don't have much time for cricket either. The late, great comedian Robin Williams described it as “basically baseball on valium.”

I prefer another description of cricket, the only game where you have to take your woolly jumper, you must stop if it rains and you've got to come in for tea. Cricket – the game invented by your mum.

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