England in West Indies, 2008-09 February 13, 2009

Putting words into Strauss's mouth

So what should Andrew Strauss say to his team as they strive to put the Jamaica ‘glitch’ behind them
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It might seem mildly absurd following England’s supine dismissal for 51 to worry about batsmen making big hundreds. Concentrating on reaching two figures is a more pressing problem for the immediate future. In fact, the capitulation in Jamaica was so abject as to lead to considerable media speculation about a recall for Matthew Hoggard as a specialist batsman.

Andrew Strauss has endured probably the shortest and least romantic honeymoon period in cricket captaincy history, a one-night stay in a flea-infested seaside B&B rather than a three-week snorkelling and canoodling extravaganza in Mauritius.

So what should he say to his team as they strive to put the Jamaica ‘glitch’ behind them?

Here are some options for his consideration:

1. “We’ve got to get back on the horse, boys. And let’s try to make the horse move this time. Let’s not just sit on the horse until it gets bored and tips us off again. Let’s get on the horse, and stay on the horse. Right. Let’s go. Anyone know how to ride a horse?”

2. “Remember, lads, we’re not as bad as we looked in the first Test. Our performances over the last couple of years prove that. So when we go out on that field today, I want you all to remember that we are not a bad cricket side. We are an adequate cricket side. Now let’s go out there and prove that to the watching world.”

3. “Once more unto the breach, dear, er, friends... well, colleagues. Let’s go with ‘dear colleagues’... Once more. And let’s try not to make quite such a pig’s breakfast of the breach this time. And when I say ‘once more’, I acknowledge we are on central contracts and there isn’t exactly a queue of county players banging the selectors’ door down with a battering ram made out of their own averages. So, realistically, it will be ‘several times more unto the breach’. But if you want to be on that plane to South Africa next winter, I suggest you put in at least one or two good performances between now and the end of the Ashes. Or else. And, if I may borrow further from Henry V, Cooky, could you try to stand a bit more like a greyhound in the slips? Good lad. And could you also at least try not to prod tentatively at good-length balls outside your off stump. What was that, Alastair? I’m a hypo-what?”

4. “If the whole of the top six can throw their wickets away irresponsibly for 97 thus letting the rest of the team down, we’ll be in with a chance.”

5. “Belly, I have full confidence in you. I am absolutely sure you’ll be able to get a full tray of drinks out to the middle in an hour’s time without spilling any of it. I know you can do it at this level.”

6. “Mmm. These guys are a bit better than we expected, aren’t they? Mmm. What to do? Right, got it. Hey guys, I want to get rid of the coach. Can someone leak that into the public domain please. Thanks.”

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ananth on March 31, 2009, 17:43 GMT

    This is one of the funniest articles I've ever read. I sent the link on to quite a few people who do NOT follow cricket, and they found it hilarious as well...

  • Adway on February 20, 2009, 4:55 GMT

    For God's sake man... I mean for your sake... If you don't stop attacking British cricket so savagely, the british public might lynch you... Once again, I'm sure that you will match 'Douglas Adams' one day...

  • Rob on February 16, 2009, 14:38 GMT

    Advise to Bigger Dog: I take umbrage with two specific parts of the response/criticism from Bigger Dog. "Distinctly unfunny" is subjective, and as a person who laughed out loud at at least 3 of the 6 suggestions for Strauss' team talk, I disagree. Zaltzman's blogs are usualy amusing, and when they are not, they are mostly statistical.

    Secondly, referring to him as a "self-styled comedian" is simply untrue. You can argue whether he's funny or not to your own sense of humour, but his job title is comedian, and it's not "self-styled". For proof, visit the self-styled comedy festival in Edinburgh.

    I have no problem in you liking or disliking anyone, but the logic behind your criticism must hold up to even the most relaxed scrutiny, else it seems worthless. Mind you, it's evoked a resonse from me that's wasted 10 minutes of my working day, so at least that's one positive from it.

    Advice to Zaltzman: Bugle on.

  • Bigger Dog on February 15, 2009, 17:57 GMT

    Advice to cricinfo management: This is a distinctly unfunny blog coming from a self-styled "comedian". Spend some real money so you can get some real talent.

  • Ash on February 15, 2009, 6:33 GMT

    It's obviously all Pietersen's fault. How I don't know, but it is.

  • neon on February 14, 2009, 23:48 GMT

    haha! this is hilarious stuff! especially #6

  • Apyboutit on February 14, 2009, 9:26 GMT

    1. Can I start from the next game officially? 2. Ok, who else prayed for the second test to go that way? 3. Can you instead pray that we All score, next time, please? 4. Lads, this just in - WICB has just granted us 4 unscheduled days of practice! What the heck are they thinking! 5. This time it came around us. Wait, it will go around them soon. Wait..... 6. Ok, lets get serious. Freddy here, will show us now how to get to double figures ...., followed by Cooky's lecture on triple figures. 7. Next time let us stretch it a bit longer. We need enough time to discuss out a reason for it ....! Blaimy. 8. hey Kevin, what are you doing, talking to the coach there? 9. I was sitting in the pavilion there and suddenly there was this strange noice - kind of like bat hitting ball in the middle. I woke up startled and had to run! their innings had already begun! You, Harmy wake me up next time. 10. Ok lads, chests up, chins up, all behave, I am gonna knock ... Hellow Mr. Stanford!!

  • Lakesidey on February 13, 2009, 17:41 GMT

    "Once more into the breach", you think? After the second match, my money's on "Once more into the beach"...

  • Satish on February 13, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    I'm with Ali on that one. Make it work Andy, you know you want to!

  • Andrew on February 13, 2009, 16:45 GMT

    I second Ali's suggestion. Enjoyed last year's show at the Stand very much, but definitely not enough cricket!

  • Ananth on March 31, 2009, 17:43 GMT

    This is one of the funniest articles I've ever read. I sent the link on to quite a few people who do NOT follow cricket, and they found it hilarious as well...

  • Adway on February 20, 2009, 4:55 GMT

    For God's sake man... I mean for your sake... If you don't stop attacking British cricket so savagely, the british public might lynch you... Once again, I'm sure that you will match 'Douglas Adams' one day...

  • Rob on February 16, 2009, 14:38 GMT

    Advise to Bigger Dog: I take umbrage with two specific parts of the response/criticism from Bigger Dog. "Distinctly unfunny" is subjective, and as a person who laughed out loud at at least 3 of the 6 suggestions for Strauss' team talk, I disagree. Zaltzman's blogs are usualy amusing, and when they are not, they are mostly statistical.

    Secondly, referring to him as a "self-styled comedian" is simply untrue. You can argue whether he's funny or not to your own sense of humour, but his job title is comedian, and it's not "self-styled". For proof, visit the self-styled comedy festival in Edinburgh.

    I have no problem in you liking or disliking anyone, but the logic behind your criticism must hold up to even the most relaxed scrutiny, else it seems worthless. Mind you, it's evoked a resonse from me that's wasted 10 minutes of my working day, so at least that's one positive from it.

    Advice to Zaltzman: Bugle on.

  • Bigger Dog on February 15, 2009, 17:57 GMT

    Advice to cricinfo management: This is a distinctly unfunny blog coming from a self-styled "comedian". Spend some real money so you can get some real talent.

  • Ash on February 15, 2009, 6:33 GMT

    It's obviously all Pietersen's fault. How I don't know, but it is.

  • neon on February 14, 2009, 23:48 GMT

    haha! this is hilarious stuff! especially #6

  • Apyboutit on February 14, 2009, 9:26 GMT

    1. Can I start from the next game officially? 2. Ok, who else prayed for the second test to go that way? 3. Can you instead pray that we All score, next time, please? 4. Lads, this just in - WICB has just granted us 4 unscheduled days of practice! What the heck are they thinking! 5. This time it came around us. Wait, it will go around them soon. Wait..... 6. Ok, lets get serious. Freddy here, will show us now how to get to double figures ...., followed by Cooky's lecture on triple figures. 7. Next time let us stretch it a bit longer. We need enough time to discuss out a reason for it ....! Blaimy. 8. hey Kevin, what are you doing, talking to the coach there? 9. I was sitting in the pavilion there and suddenly there was this strange noice - kind of like bat hitting ball in the middle. I woke up startled and had to run! their innings had already begun! You, Harmy wake me up next time. 10. Ok lads, chests up, chins up, all behave, I am gonna knock ... Hellow Mr. Stanford!!

  • Lakesidey on February 13, 2009, 17:41 GMT

    "Once more into the breach", you think? After the second match, my money's on "Once more into the beach"...

  • Satish on February 13, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    I'm with Ali on that one. Make it work Andy, you know you want to!

  • Andrew on February 13, 2009, 16:45 GMT

    I second Ali's suggestion. Enjoyed last year's show at the Stand very much, but definitely not enough cricket!

  • Darrel Conolly on February 13, 2009, 14:36 GMT

    1. "Who knows how to play cricket?"

  • qaisar jan on February 13, 2009, 14:35 GMT

    hahaha....... anybody knowing how to ride a horse??......... very funny... lolllzzz

  • Angi on February 13, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Mr Zaltzman, the English team are not deserving of your words. Please make fun of the Indian team in your inimitable style!

  • henpecked on February 13, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    I think that there several "positives" from Englands performance last Saturday in Jamaica. 1) I would get any grief from the wife when I wanted to watch the cricket on Sunday, thus freeing up the telly for strictly come ice-dancing or whatever its called. Come on Jessica - win it and strike a blow for our national summer game - however tenuously. 2) It enabled me to watch Wales v Scotland without constantly flicking over to see if England had added another single. 3. Even the tabloids take an interest when England are dire.

  • Deano84 on February 13, 2009, 13:01 GMT

    7. Rightho chaps, if we can all just try and put our bats in front of the wicket this time, then at least the Windies fielders may have to catch the ball, rather than just replacing the stumps back in the ground. Must have been frightfully boring for them.

  • Nick on February 13, 2009, 12:07 GMT

    Hilarious! Most of all because it's all pretty much the truth; England ARE an adequate side, and they had been wading through a cesspool of their own sheer ordinariness for at least the last 10-15 years.

  • Ali on February 13, 2009, 8:53 GMT

    I'm hoping for a cricket and politics mashup show at Edinburgh this year Andy, don't let me down.

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  • Ali on February 13, 2009, 8:53 GMT

    I'm hoping for a cricket and politics mashup show at Edinburgh this year Andy, don't let me down.

  • Nick on February 13, 2009, 12:07 GMT

    Hilarious! Most of all because it's all pretty much the truth; England ARE an adequate side, and they had been wading through a cesspool of their own sheer ordinariness for at least the last 10-15 years.

  • Deano84 on February 13, 2009, 13:01 GMT

    7. Rightho chaps, if we can all just try and put our bats in front of the wicket this time, then at least the Windies fielders may have to catch the ball, rather than just replacing the stumps back in the ground. Must have been frightfully boring for them.

  • henpecked on February 13, 2009, 13:32 GMT

    I think that there several "positives" from Englands performance last Saturday in Jamaica. 1) I would get any grief from the wife when I wanted to watch the cricket on Sunday, thus freeing up the telly for strictly come ice-dancing or whatever its called. Come on Jessica - win it and strike a blow for our national summer game - however tenuously. 2) It enabled me to watch Wales v Scotland without constantly flicking over to see if England had added another single. 3. Even the tabloids take an interest when England are dire.

  • Angi on February 13, 2009, 14:10 GMT

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Mr Zaltzman, the English team are not deserving of your words. Please make fun of the Indian team in your inimitable style!

  • qaisar jan on February 13, 2009, 14:35 GMT

    hahaha....... anybody knowing how to ride a horse??......... very funny... lolllzzz

  • Darrel Conolly on February 13, 2009, 14:36 GMT

    1. "Who knows how to play cricket?"

  • Andrew on February 13, 2009, 16:45 GMT

    I second Ali's suggestion. Enjoyed last year's show at the Stand very much, but definitely not enough cricket!

  • Satish on February 13, 2009, 17:06 GMT

    I'm with Ali on that one. Make it work Andy, you know you want to!

  • Lakesidey on February 13, 2009, 17:41 GMT

    "Once more into the breach", you think? After the second match, my money's on "Once more into the beach"...