Doctor Who: Dearr Me, Needs A Drrop Of Linseed Oil..... - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Doctor Who: Dearr Me, Needs A Drrop Of Linseed Oil.....

Chris Morley dons the whites...

With England battling to salvage at least a draw from the latest Ashes series against Australia, take a pew in the clubhouse as we look back over the Doctor's attempts to reacquaint himself with the finer points of cricket two incarnations on from proving himself a more than proficient player of the game!

Enter Paul Cornell, the man responsible for bowling something of a temporal yorker within the pages of the Virgin New Adventures novel range. The series was intended as a post-Survival attempt at giving the Seventh Doctor at least a few further travels in time & space.....though they would end in the genteel village of Cheldon Bonniface.

First up to the crease is Cornell's debut entry which arrived in the form of Revelation, the final book of the Timewyrm arc which serves to reinforce the Fifth Doctor's place in the mind of his older self as a personification of his conscience - the sense of having to uphold fair play in his dealings with the terrible things bred in many corners of the universe making the chap in the cricket whites the ideal candidate for the job!

The Doctor had first encountered the sport during his First incarnation when the TARDIS materialised at the Oval during an Ashes match in part of the Volcano episode of The Daleks' Master Plan .

DOCTOR: Yes, it's definitely some sporting occasion.
SARA: Oh, I hardly think so, Doctor.
STEVEN: Was it on Earth, do you think?
DOCTOR: Oh, possibly, my dear fellow, possibly.
A slightly dismissive attitude but then again if the First, Steven and Sara had stayed to watch the game it would almost inevitably have ended in defeat or a draw for England, as they failed to win any of the four Ashes series played during the 1960s!

The seeds of the Doctor's admiration for the sport of kings had been sown, in a sense, as far back as Barry Letts' Island Of Death, a Past Doctor Adventure for the Third. Within its pages lies the admission on his part that had he regenerated into a younger body he might have been a keen cricket player himself! Of course, that may have been a bit of forward thinking on the author's part - foreshadowing the arrival of just such a thing two complete rejigs away.

But before the bescarfed one took a fall off the top of a radio telescope, a pre-merger with the Watcher Fourth Doctor had claimed at least some knowledge of the intricacies of bowling in both The Ribos Operation & The Horns Of Nimon.
ROMANA: Four of the clock and all's well? Obviously just a ritual greeting and reassurance.
DOCTOR: But he said it in a Somerset accent. Somerset's one of the Earth counties.
ROMANA: Ah, but there's no space service to Ribos, Doctor. According to Bartholomew's Planetary Gazetteer, it has a protected class three society. So there can't be any Earth aliens on Ribos.
DOCTOR: Maybe he's a cricket scout. Yes, they could do with a good leg spinner.
Fast forward to Horns......
DOCTOR: How long have we got?
K9: Estimated time to impact
DOCTOR: That's what I said.
K9: Eighty nine point four seconds.
DOCTOR: Eighty nine point four seconds. No dematerialisation, no defence shields, and only half power on full drive. K9, I think we're going to find out what it's like to be a cricket ball. Well, it's been a great, great partnership, old girl.
After he nearly found out what it was like to be a cricket ball, he would later use one to store his Time Lord biodata while hiding from the Aubertides in Human Nature, Cornell's third New Adventure entry.

Also slotting nicely into our cricketing arc of sorts is a Virgin Missing Adventure for the very same man, Goth Opera mining similar territory to State Of Decay and giving the Time Lord chance to brush up on his batting in the nets at a club in Tasmania as well as enlisting the help of a bowling machine. And when he's not out on the field of play he's contributing to Wisden to boot on a casual basis, though readers take to its letters page in their droves to question the accuracy of his recollections! A copy of the related Almanack is also kept in the TARDIS library. A ball signed by Mike Gatting, no doubt cherished, also features.

Though its nowhere to be seen when he takes the guise of Aberdonian history teacher John Smith in Human Nature. Part of his duties involve selection of the Hulton College cricket team, though he's retained very little of his original knowledge of the game!

Happy Endings, though, does at least round things off nicely with a match between the villagers of Cheldon Bonniface & the Doctor's Invitation Eleven as part of Bernice Summerfield's wedding to Jason Kane - the players including the groom, Dr John Watson (see also All Consuming Fire), Keri the Pakhar (Legacy), the Silurian Sanki & Irving Braxatiel (Legacy, Theatre Of War).

The Cheldon Bonniface team includes Smith, which means that in effect two sides of the same man are playing against each other! He's joined by Ishtar Hutchings, the reformed Timewyrm rounding out a side containing such local characters as Sergeant G.Burk, J.Bunney, Lord Tasham & Sid “See In The Dark” Seedman. They lose by the narrowest of margins - 140-136, after the captain of the Invitation Eleven admits he needs to learn how to play it all over again. The account of the match is also acknowledged as the longest and most detailed depiction of the sport in any medium covered by Doctor Who

The Doctor does at least manage to use his strategic side to help his team to victory long after his earlier part in the village team's winning the local league, a team photo hanging on the wall of the local pub revealing his younger looking past incarnation's part in that triumph.

Little wonder he'd look back so fondly on his playing days five selves on, the TV adaptation of Human Nature showing he'd retained at least some bowling ability. The nearest he ever got to a super over?

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