Champions League 2009 October 9, 2009

Men on stilts, yes?


Jamelia, as not seen by your correspondent (sob) © Getty Images

It has been a trying day, cricket chums.

On the way home to my country estate, I popped into Mr Border’s Newsagent and Tucker Shop for an Evening Standard and a little refreshment. “Good evening, sir, I’d like to purchase a bottle of mineral water,” I offered, politely. The gruff, bearded custodian glowered at me from behind his counter. “Mineral water?” he growled, “What do you think this is, a f***** tea party?” A few minutes later, I emerged, somewhat shaken, with two tins of dog food and a packet of firelighters. I must confess, I do sometimes wonder whether poor old Mr Border is quite cut out for the service industry.

Never mind, I thought, at least I have Jamelia to look forward to. Not being able to witness the opening extravaganza of the Champions League first hand, I had entrusted the task of recording said festival of jollity to an electronic device, a device that, it transpired, was incapable of performing the one task that justified its existence; a device that is currently residing amidst the azaleas in an upside-down position.

As the horror of the situation dawned upon me, I didn’t panic. The modern armchair cricketer must have the mind of a nuclear physicist, the reflexes of a panther and the manual dexterity of a concert pianist. I did some quick mental arithmetic, realised that the broadcast hadn’t quite finished, and after playing a rapid arpeggio on the remote control, managed to catch the last 20 seconds live from Bangalore.

I saw blue-and-yellow-shirted players celebrating (these, I learned, were Cobras). I smiled wistfully as I recognised the tireless enthusiasm of Harsha Bhogle, who always sounds as though he has just discovered the game of cricket that very day and can’t wait to tell everyone about it. I even saw Mr Modi, keeping up his proud record of ensuring not a single televised cricket minute can pass without the benefit of his immaculately coiffured presence.

Then, alas, the credits rolled and it was all gone; a brief glimpse of Bangalore under floodlights snatched away. Life, for an armchair cricket fan with a malfunctioning hard-disk recorder, can be so cruel. I am left with a 40-over-and-opening-ceremony-with-singing-and-dancing-sized hole in the precious-memories section of my brain. An evening that had promised much thwackery and a pulsing Bollywood soundtrack will now be passed solemnly, with only the clink of the port decanter, the polite cough of my butler and the cries of the peacocks on the lawn to break the mournful silence.

Of course, I could try to reconstruct the day’s events from the scorecard, but that is rather like trying to relive your wedding by reading the guest list. And how could I possibly recreate the wonders of the opening ceremony? What joys have I been denied? What splendours have passed me by? So I ask you, dear Cricinfo readers, can you come to the aid of a man in distress? Just answer me this: what was Jamelia wearing? And please, tell me, were there men on stilts? At least I could sleep happily tonight knowing that there were men on stilts.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England