Marcus Flint = Freddie Flintoff?

The surest way for an American to display just how provincial and how ignorant he or she may be of English life is in saying profoundly silly about Cricket, the historical UK national pasttime. The Super Bowl or Olympic equivalent in Cricket ‘Test Match’ play, for example, is the England-Australia biennial match called ‘The Ashes’ — and it’s the rare American who knows about it, or the runs, bats, innings, and bowling of this game which have almost nothing to do with what we daft Yankees think they might. (Really, Quidditch is much more the magical equivalent of Cricket than to basketball or soccer in its relatively esoteric pitch dimensions and rules of play, no?)

To give you an idea of what a big deal The Ashes match play is, the actors who play Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy in the Warner Brothers films franchise derived from the books made an appearance at The Oval this year — and the show went on without the usual celebrity moment. I mean, this is bigger than Wimbledon.

The big play in this year’s Test, which, remarkably, England won, was a spectacular run-out by a legendary British All Round player who had announced in July this would be his last appearance for England. His name — and how he got his nickname — makes me think he is an Ashes stand-in for Marcus Flint, the Slytherin Chaser and Quidditch captain.

Andrew Flintoff, MBE, is the Cricket legend and you can watch the run-out on Australia’s Captain Ricky Ponting at YouTube here. Andrew, though, is almost universally known as “Freddie” as in “Fred Flintstone” because “of the issues he had with his weight when he first emerged onto the scene.” In a word, he’s huge at 6’4″ and 17 stone (~240 lbs), especially for a slip fielder. He has the build of a Defensive Tackle and plays Shortstop.

Reading about him and his spectacular farewell last month at The Ashes, it occurred to me that this big boy may have been the real-world inspiration for Oliver Wood’s Slytherin equivalent, Marcus Flint. Now, Flint was the only student I know who had to repeat a year and Harry suspected him of having a little Troll blood in him, but his girth, sport, name, and that he is famous for England/Australia Ashes heroics (corresponding perhaps to Gryffindor/Slytherin Quidditch games for the Cup and House Championships?) make me wonder.

Your thoughts?


  1. I don’t know. I never got the idea that Rowling was all that sports inclined. Of course, I, American that I am, still know about the importance of The Ashes. Of course it’s safe to say that all I know about cricket I learned from the 5th Doctor & from Douglas Adams. πŸ™‚

    So, maybe Rowling is a big sports fanatic or at least conversant enough with the names & figures of cricket to lift something from that sport.

  2. Of course, if your supposition is accurate, what does it say that Rowling may have lifted part of the nickname of a legendary British all around player & used it for a very unpleasant character in the books?

  3. I suppose that’s a good explanation. She’s always said that writing for Quidditch has been hardest for her. Sports is perhaps a necessary evil as you say & lends a necessary level of house competition. Much more competition & feeling than say if Harry had become the youngest house gobstones player in a century. πŸ™‚

  4. Let me note here that I had never heard of The Ashes and The Oval until researching this piece. Flint’s ‘Run-out’ heroics took me half an hour to figure out via YouTube and Wikipedia.

    The only Cricket I know anything about was in the film credits for Disney’s Pinocchio.

    That said, Cricket seems the most likely model for Quidditch.

  5. That she thinks sports are risibly over-hyped but are a necessary evil in Schoolboy fiction?

    You’ll note that in Forks, where the scene is a High School but the genre is a combination YA Romance and gothic Everyman drama, we have the only school district in North America where the Athletic Department only teaches gym. I’m confident Bella was the only student accepted at Dartmouth the year she applied who never stepped on a track or playing field (or even attended a football game?).

  6. I think you’re right. Almost all of her Quidditch matches have some essential quirk to keep them interesting, plus they are tied to the plot. I am a big fan of PG Wodehouse, and in his early work, he is perfectly capable of spending page after page describing a character getting a century.

    I’ve played cricket and it doesn’t feel very much like Quidditch. There is an awful lot of standing around waiting for things not to happen. The balls, however, are very heavy and they hurt, and the bats really look a lot like Bludger bats, so there’s a connection there. I notice that the leg pads for Quidditch look a lot like cricket pads, too, but that is probably the movie makers, not Rowling.

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