Saturday, 14 May 2016

Peak Stuff

Peak Stuff?
Fantasy Bob has been reading in the more erudite press earnest discussions of the concept of peak stuff.  Boffins are suggesting that increasing numbers of people in the developed world have as much stuff as they could ever want, far less need, far less find places in the cupboard under the stairs for.

They point to such facts as the stagnation of sales of iPhones and iPads, the downturn in household spending on physical goods, including furnishings, clothing, cars and gadgets.  National statistics show that the amount of  material stuff used in the UK – including food, fuel, metals and building materials – has fallen dramatically since 2001.  So much so that Steve Howard, head of Ikea’s sustainability unit, has been moved to declare: “In the west, we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff… peak home furnishings.”

Peak home furnishings? Yikes!  Are things that bad?

Desperate though this sounds, FB can offer his handful of readers some hope - the cataclysm is some way off.  For the boffins have failed to include in their analysis one area where we are only in the foothills - peak cricket stuff is still some way off.

Player's kit store 1990
In the salad days of FB's long and undistinguished career in the lower leagues, cricketers would arrive for a match bearing only a small haversack containing a box, a pair of boots, a pair of whites. Perhaps a towel if they thought they were on a promise that night.  Perhaps a Mars Bar if they had read something about a new fangled concept of sports nutrition.  Wicket keepers of course had to stagger under the additional burden of a pair of gauntlets - the extra weight of which probably explained the solid foursquare frame of most wicketkeepers in those halcyon days.

Nowadays, even the most youthful of FB's team mates will arrive encumbered with a veritable pantechnicon of kit.  Both parents will follow like native bearers carrying additional items.
Player's kit store 2016

Over the years, FB has watched his junior colleagues unpack their pantechnicons and has observed the relentless growth of cricket stuff:

  • No self respecting junior will have fewer than three bats - one for a quick wicket, one for slower tracks and one that is being knocked in.
  • Alistair Cook may be able to bat for hours in the heat of Perth or Hyderabad without casting a drop of sweat and without changing his gloves.  However, in the sweltering heat of Scottish grounds, a change of gloves is necessary every 5 overs.  At least 3 pairs are needed - along with associated inners.
  • Spikes, half spikes, astros, rubber studs, flat soles, bowling boots.  It is impossible to survive the rigours of the modern lower league tussle with just one set of footwear. Sometimes wellies are essential items too.
  • Match kit, training kit, warm up kit, travel kit, post match uniform.  A player needs a full travel wardrobe - skippers need to make sure that an iron and ironing board are available.
  • A box, arm guard, batting pads, thigh pad, inner thigh pad, keeping pads, fielding pads, chest protector, helmet, cap.  In the salad days a thick cable sweater was deemed sufficient protection.
  • Against all empirical evidence Scottish players also insist on sunhat and sunglasses, the later of which at least keep the biting wind out of a player's eyes.
  • Base layers for cold conditions, base layers for warm conditions.  Scottish players must also add a special base layer which can deal with all seasons in one day.

Gradually senior players are catching up and emulating their junior role models.  Of course they have to add some additional items in particular:

  • Knee support, ankle support, elbow support.  Most senior players also need continual emotional support.
  • A pharmacopoeia of linaments and stimulants (all within the guidelines of the World Anti Doping Administration's list on prescribed performance enhancing substances).

Peak cricket stuff is still far off.  Continuing growth seems essential to the survival of the Western economy.  The sooner IKEA get into self-assemble cricket gear the better for them.

But FB can also offer some hope for those with environmentalist leanings who despair at this relentless material growth.  Is it sustainable they ask.  FB can assure them that the impetus to recycle is strong. At least half of this gear is left behind in the dressing room after each match.