IF recent events are any indication, a pre-requisite of being an international cricketer these days is the ability to urinate in public.
First, Monty Panesar tested his skills in that direction by aiming over some bouncers at a nightclub in Brighton.
Then several England players – reportedly Stuart Broad, Kevin Pietersen and Jimmy Anderson – mistook the Oval pitch for a urinal while celebrating after the fifth and final Ashes Test, an incident for which England have apologised.
Although Panesar apparently has one or two issues going on in his personal life at present, my initial reaction on hearing about the Oval episode was one of disapproval closely followed by the jogging of memory.
For the realisation dawned that I had heard of an identical incident that happened in 1932, when several Nottinghamshire players watered the wicket during a County Championship match against Glamorgan at Cardiff Arms Park.
Like the England players in London last Sunday, the Nottinghamshire lads had been having a few drinks after close of play.
In fact, that Nottinghamshire team was rather partial to a few drinks – led by captain Arthur Carr, one of the game’s most colourful characters.
Carr, who had been England captain in the 1920s, drank like a fish and smoked three packets of cigarettes a day.
In fact, he actively encouraged pace bowlers Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, who led England’s infamous Bodyline campaign in the 1932-33 winter, to replace lost fuel by drinking beer.
In his 1935 autobiography, Carr wrote: “When I have particularly wanted to get Larwood’s tail up in order to get a quick wicket or two for Notts I have seen to it that he has not wanted for a drop of beer.”
In a mantra unlikely to be uttered by today’s fitness coaches, Carr added that “you cannot be a good fast bowler on a bottle of ginger pop or a nice glass of water”.
In 1932, Nottinghamshire ran into a depressingly flat Cardiff pitch.
So much so, their own first innings total of 396 was something of a below-par performance, Glamorgan sailing past it to 502 with Maurice Turnbull scoring 205 and Dai Davies 106 as Larwood and Voce tried an unsuccessful Bodyline rehearsal.
To show their frustration, Carr ordered his players back on to the field under the cover of darkness after they had all been drinking in the pavilion and encouraged them to urinate on the pitch.
Someone tipped off the groundsman, who was back at the crack of dawn attending to his beloved pitch and fobbing off reporters.
What particularly strikes me, however, is the contrast in how we might be tempted to view the antics of Carr and his men with those of the present-day England players.
The 1932 anecdote seems like a bit of a jolly jape, a bit of harmless mischief by a colourful set of players.
When we think of the current England side, however, we do not see colour and character but, in certain cases, arrogance and aloofness.
We see young men who do not exactly portray an image of hail-fellow-well-met off the field – not least in their dealings with the media, who have reported their shenanigans.
If someone like Pietersen, for example, urinates on the pitch, the public are more inclined to perceive that as an extension of arrogant behaviour. Whereas if the likes of Carr, Larwood and Voce did it back in the day, folk tended to view that as nothing more than Jack-the-lad stuff.
None of which beats the best urine-related cricket story I have ever heard.
Legend has it that a former Northamptonshire player, who shall remain nameless, found himself in a hotel lift with a journalist he despised.
Without warning, the player suddenly unzipped his flies and peed on the hack.
“What the hell are you doing?” said the startled writer.
To which the reply came: “Well, you’ve been p***** all over me for the past 20 years, so I thought I’d let you know how it feels.”