February 13, 2009

England in West Indies, 2008-09

Putting words into Strauss's mouth

Andy Zaltzman
Andrew Strauss directs the field on the fourth morning at Sabina Park, West Indies v England, 1st Test, Kingston, February 7, 2009
 © AFP


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

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Posted by 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...

Posted by 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...

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by Ash on (February 15, 2009, 6:33 GMT)

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

Posted by neon on (February 14, 2009, 23:48 GMT)

haha! this is hilarious stuff! especially #6

Posted by 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!!

Posted by 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"...

Posted by Satish on (February 13, 2009, 17:06 GMT)

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

Posted by 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!

Comments have now been closed for this article


Andy Zaltzman
Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.

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