Flintoff September 19, 2009

I'm troubled, cricket chums


“Hello, I’ll be your Ronnie for the day” © Getty Images

In less than three weeks time, the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 tournament will begin. Naturally, I assume you will all be watching. In these parts, the whole shebang is to be broadcast by British Eurosport, something of a coup for a channel more accustomed to bringing us the Baltic Wood-Chopping Grand Prix and Snail Endurance Racing from Calais.

None of this is a problem. I’m a broadminded kind of guy; I can live with getting my fix of the pyjama game via a rickety studio in Luxembourg. Anyway, thanks to the marvels of modern-day capitalism, I have no choice.

No, what is troubling me is the news that England’s very own Freddie Flintoff is to be part of the commentary team. Now Fred is a nice bloke, he does a good line in post-match self-deprecation, and I understand he has some interesting things to say on the subject of post-millennial immigration and its impact on standards of service in the hospitality industry.

Nevertheless, for all of his merits, he has one fault that renders him a commentary liability. He sounds exactly like Ronnie Irani. This is no trivial objection. For the last six months, I have been running a support group for traumatised IPL viewers suffering the effects of Post-Irani Syndrome. The symptoms they describe are invariably the same. Victims report seeing a yellow haze that they slowly recognise as the Setanta studio. They hear a man talking. The voice gets louder. They can make out the words, “I tell you what…” Then they wake up screaming.

The thought of this much-anticipated tournament being played out to a sound track of Lancastrian platitudes is enough to keep me up in the early hours, gnawing my pillow with anxiety. We can only hope that Freelance Fred is not being paid by the word.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England