Michael Bogdanov was a great sports fan. He was always an excitable man, and boasted that he had destroyed the family sofa while watching the 1966 World Cup final, so involved had he become in the action.
In 1978 – while working with Bodger at the Young Vic – I got a call from someone at the National Theatre scaring up an XI to play cricket. That was the first incarnation of the National Theatre Cricket Club, which Michael helped found when he took up residence on the South Bank in 1980. He acquired funds for kit, and a fixture list was established. Bodger liked to bat at number 4 or 5 and skipper at silly mid-off (or silly fat Bodge, as we renamed it). He was an elegant right-hander with a penchant for the late cut, which canny opposition captains soon worked out, resulting in many promising innings being cut short at wide slip or backward point.
Many years later, after he had left the National and was directing in Hamburg, he challenged the NTCC to a match against an XI from the Schauspielhaus. Somehow he persuaded the Hamburg Polo Club to allow him to cut a strip on their lush purlieu and we played on possibly the slowest, stickiest wicket ever created. When Michael came in at his customary number 4, we jokingly placed nine fielders at backward point. He enjoyed the joke, then got himself caught – at backward point.
I worked with him as an actor for many years between 1973 and 1985, but I was never happier than when I shared a cricket field with him.