Champions League 2009 October 14, 2009

Beware the Benaud

 
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Richie Benaud: “There was only thish much in it” © Getty Images
 

It all started at breakfast. I had just poured out my customary bowl of chocolate googlies and was about to add a dash of the semi-skimmed when I noticed that the cocoa-flavoured shapes had formed themselves into the image of Richie Benaud gazing sadly into the middle distance.

Now, students of cricket-lore will know that the breakfast-time manifestation of a former Australian cricketer is a portent of some significance. For example, if your egg yolk takes on the shape of David Boon, your health check-up is overdue; if your buttered toast looks a bit like Kim Hughes, you should keep an eye on your work colleagues, and if you see Glenn McGrath in your tea leaves, you are probably Mike Atherton.

But what, I wondered, could Richie be trying to tell me? The answer became clear at a little after 6.45 this evening. As Rory Hamilton-Brown failed utterly to defend his wooden castle, I finally understood. Besides being everyone’s favourite decommissioned Australian captain, retired wrist-swiveller and microphone jockey, Benaud is a betting shaman. He had taken on cereal form in order to warn me.

For I am afraid dear reader, I had succumbed to the gambler’s curse. I couldn’t let a tournament like this go by without a modest wager, and I had chosen to place my money on the Sharks of Sussex. My reasons were plentiful, if not particularly convincing. They are, it must be said, the best hit-and-giggle troupe in England. They wear a particularly fetching shade of sky blue. And they are called the Sharks. Powerful, swift, killing machines, always on the move. How could they lose? Easily, it transpired.

Under the Delhi floodlights, Sussex toyed with the emotions of the desperate gambler as though they didn’t even care that I had backed them at 16-1 in the upstairs back room of a discrete Soho establishment a week last Wednesday. Like a tedious relative who tells the same joke at every family gathering, Luke Wright ran through his usual repertoire of boundary-boundary-boundary-oopsy daisy, and the subsequent exhibition of recklessness by his batting chums was more reminiscent of lemmings than sharks.

But all hope was not extinguished. Piyush Chawla, my favourite promising spinner of the pre-Mendis era, spun a web of silken subtlety to tie the Eagles down. A dozen to get off the last over and a glorious penultimate yorker from Yasir Arafat – surely the game was won? Alas, no. A heartless, clubbing blow from Ryan McLaren and we were into a super-duper-sudden-death-knock-out eliminator. By the time Rory of the Hamilton-Browns failed, I was spent, a limp rag of a man lying stretched out on the chaise longue, with a bottle of gin in my hand and a wet flannel over my face.

The moral of the story should be obvious by now, dear reader. Clearly, the game was fixed. I have already written a letter to Sussex County Council asking them to instigate an immediate enquiry, and I expect to be reading of the resignation of Michael Yardy in Sunday’s Times. In the circumstances, it is the least he could do.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • reg on October 16, 2009, 10:58 GMT

    all jokes aside i did not understand why the Sussex chose to use the bowler with the worst economy rate in the entire game for both the last regular over and the eliminator over. I reckon this was very ordinary captaincy.

    But the issue of resolving ties is important and the present rules are plainly rediculous. When one side may have two very well-set batsmen available, and the other side only has chaps who have been tearing around in the field for the last 20 overs, it is hardly equitable.

  • Tanmay on October 15, 2009, 10:25 GMT

    Great article Mr. Hughes. I like the term pre-mendis era. I am sure he will be some one to watch out for. I assume that the game was not fixed. Really subtle way of laughing at Pakistani cricket!

  • Anonymous on October 15, 2009, 6:21 GMT

    Funny

  • James on October 14, 2009, 23:58 GMT

    Maybe the game was not fixed, but in fact Sussex are just not a good enough cricket team to defeat the Eagles and advance to the next round, let alone win the Champions League. When they failed miserably like this; can you really say that the match was fixed or just another bad performance from the Sharks.

  • lf on October 14, 2009, 22:35 GMT

    LMAO @ ...and if you see Glenn McGrath in your tea leaves, you are probably Mike Atherton.

    ROFL @ Luke Wright ran through his usual repertoire of boundary-boundary-boundary-oopsy daisy

    I have already written a letter to Sussex County Council asking them to change the name of the team to the Hove Remoras.

  • honkytonkpopcorn on October 14, 2009, 20:14 GMT

    well written piece there my old royster-doysterer, very funny indeed. shame some of the previous folks to have left comments didn't seem to realise it was meant to be funny...

  • Gaurav on October 14, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    Nice way to take a swipe at Pakistan Cricket :D

  • rob heinen on October 14, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    Even without this article I expect Michael Yardy to hand in his resignation as a player effective immediately. He's no box office success, to put it mildly. There's but one spin bowler that makes less sense then Michael Yardy and that is Robert Croft. Although the latter made it to the England team! Oops, Michael did as well didn't he? Guys, spin bowling is about being able to make the ball turn! It's supposed to move sideways after pitching at least some of the time!!

  • sridhar on October 14, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    Nice piece. I saw the game and it was one of the few good games that we have had in this tournament. Fixed? that is a four letter word in my book at least and as they say in the movies"when you say that smile". Indian Tv is full of images of Younis dropping a sitter with his fingers pointing skyward. Of course the Aussies catch that way don't they! To my mind that match was a lot more suspicious than this one. Teaches you never to bet on English teams even if the odds are 16 to 1!Sridhar

  • Amar on October 14, 2009, 12:33 GMT

    Y'days game needed agression, something you'd normally associate with Aussies. Luke and Smith provided foolhardiness. perhaps all the agressive englishmen perished in WWII and the English are now more like their french cousins. Time to air out the beret, n'est-ce pas?

  • reg on October 16, 2009, 10:58 GMT

    all jokes aside i did not understand why the Sussex chose to use the bowler with the worst economy rate in the entire game for both the last regular over and the eliminator over. I reckon this was very ordinary captaincy.

    But the issue of resolving ties is important and the present rules are plainly rediculous. When one side may have two very well-set batsmen available, and the other side only has chaps who have been tearing around in the field for the last 20 overs, it is hardly equitable.

  • Tanmay on October 15, 2009, 10:25 GMT

    Great article Mr. Hughes. I like the term pre-mendis era. I am sure he will be some one to watch out for. I assume that the game was not fixed. Really subtle way of laughing at Pakistani cricket!

  • Anonymous on October 15, 2009, 6:21 GMT

    Funny

  • James on October 14, 2009, 23:58 GMT

    Maybe the game was not fixed, but in fact Sussex are just not a good enough cricket team to defeat the Eagles and advance to the next round, let alone win the Champions League. When they failed miserably like this; can you really say that the match was fixed or just another bad performance from the Sharks.

  • lf on October 14, 2009, 22:35 GMT

    LMAO @ ...and if you see Glenn McGrath in your tea leaves, you are probably Mike Atherton.

    ROFL @ Luke Wright ran through his usual repertoire of boundary-boundary-boundary-oopsy daisy

    I have already written a letter to Sussex County Council asking them to change the name of the team to the Hove Remoras.

  • honkytonkpopcorn on October 14, 2009, 20:14 GMT

    well written piece there my old royster-doysterer, very funny indeed. shame some of the previous folks to have left comments didn't seem to realise it was meant to be funny...

  • Gaurav on October 14, 2009, 17:37 GMT

    Nice way to take a swipe at Pakistan Cricket :D

  • rob heinen on October 14, 2009, 13:42 GMT

    Even without this article I expect Michael Yardy to hand in his resignation as a player effective immediately. He's no box office success, to put it mildly. There's but one spin bowler that makes less sense then Michael Yardy and that is Robert Croft. Although the latter made it to the England team! Oops, Michael did as well didn't he? Guys, spin bowling is about being able to make the ball turn! It's supposed to move sideways after pitching at least some of the time!!

  • sridhar on October 14, 2009, 12:53 GMT

    Nice piece. I saw the game and it was one of the few good games that we have had in this tournament. Fixed? that is a four letter word in my book at least and as they say in the movies"when you say that smile". Indian Tv is full of images of Younis dropping a sitter with his fingers pointing skyward. Of course the Aussies catch that way don't they! To my mind that match was a lot more suspicious than this one. Teaches you never to bet on English teams even if the odds are 16 to 1!Sridhar

  • Amar on October 14, 2009, 12:33 GMT

    Y'days game needed agression, something you'd normally associate with Aussies. Luke and Smith provided foolhardiness. perhaps all the agressive englishmen perished in WWII and the English are now more like their french cousins. Time to air out the beret, n'est-ce pas?

  • Divyanshu on October 14, 2009, 12:04 GMT

    "pre-Mendis era".... lolz... too good.

  • gav on October 14, 2009, 11:56 GMT

    comment virginity gone!!!

    i once made a spaghetti bolognaise dish. I swear Darren Lehmann's head was in it.

    Brilliant article by the way. Love the hidden message behind it

  • Roopesh on October 14, 2009, 11:26 GMT

    Richie Benaud is someone who can NOT think beyond England and Australia cricket

  • Kris on October 14, 2009, 11:19 GMT

    That is one hilarious article, mate. I almost fell of me seat here. You are certainly giving Andy yonder at the confectionary stall a run for his money!

  • Dave on October 14, 2009, 10:21 GMT

    Lovely piece! You and that Andy Saltzman can duke it out for Wittiest scribe honours

  • Yogz on October 14, 2009, 10:03 GMT

    Really miss Richie Benaud's caustic comments in matched over here in India. Truly the all-time greatest microphone warrior. An yeah, Tendulkar still rocks ;)

  • Graham Boe on October 14, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    Most amusing, but not as funny as Luke Wrights pitchside interview after his crash bang wallop affair, apparently flown out on Sunday to rescue the "sharks" after watching the early games of the tournament from his sick bed which i can only assume is a euphemism for sitting outside a trendy Brighton bar at midnight on Saturday with a refreshing iced beverage ! Bring on the new Botham. . . . Flintoff . . . ??

  • amit on October 14, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    Nice article.Though, for a change it was good to see an English side choke instead of a South African one.

  • cricforum on October 14, 2009, 9:14 GMT

    Boring mate

  • Mel on October 14, 2009, 8:05 GMT

    hehe, sussex were a good team deserved to be in next round ..

  • Karan Arora on October 14, 2009, 7:50 GMT

    Interesting article...but not so sure if the game was really fixed. Do games get fixed even now ...dont know but being a true cricket lover its hard to believe and one gets very dissappointed at such allegations. I guess we would never know which ones are and which ones are not but the thought of a game being fixed is killing.

  • Grunter on October 14, 2009, 7:47 GMT

    Lol Brilliant

  • Rustin on October 14, 2009, 7:03 GMT

    Good article.But a bit short I think. My favourite line: "if you see Glenn McGrath in your tea leaves, you are probably Mike Atherton." :D

  • Phoenix on October 14, 2009, 6:32 GMT

    I'm pretty sure that you had the bottle of gin even before betting on Sussex. Because I dont think anyone in their right mind would bet on an English county to win such a big event. If I'm not wrong the odds of Sussex is same as the odds of Bermuda winning the 2007 world cup (and those odds are set by betting gurus only for a reason) No offence my English mates but we all know the state of Englands ODI and 20/20 game

  • 148Panther on October 14, 2009, 6:08 GMT

    Liked the pun on pakistan at the end.....

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  • 148Panther on October 14, 2009, 6:08 GMT

    Liked the pun on pakistan at the end.....

  • Phoenix on October 14, 2009, 6:32 GMT

    I'm pretty sure that you had the bottle of gin even before betting on Sussex. Because I dont think anyone in their right mind would bet on an English county to win such a big event. If I'm not wrong the odds of Sussex is same as the odds of Bermuda winning the 2007 world cup (and those odds are set by betting gurus only for a reason) No offence my English mates but we all know the state of Englands ODI and 20/20 game

  • Rustin on October 14, 2009, 7:03 GMT

    Good article.But a bit short I think. My favourite line: "if you see Glenn McGrath in your tea leaves, you are probably Mike Atherton." :D

  • Grunter on October 14, 2009, 7:47 GMT

    Lol Brilliant

  • Karan Arora on October 14, 2009, 7:50 GMT

    Interesting article...but not so sure if the game was really fixed. Do games get fixed even now ...dont know but being a true cricket lover its hard to believe and one gets very dissappointed at such allegations. I guess we would never know which ones are and which ones are not but the thought of a game being fixed is killing.

  • Mel on October 14, 2009, 8:05 GMT

    hehe, sussex were a good team deserved to be in next round ..

  • cricforum on October 14, 2009, 9:14 GMT

    Boring mate

  • amit on October 14, 2009, 9:23 GMT

    Nice article.Though, for a change it was good to see an English side choke instead of a South African one.

  • Graham Boe on October 14, 2009, 9:32 GMT

    Most amusing, but not as funny as Luke Wrights pitchside interview after his crash bang wallop affair, apparently flown out on Sunday to rescue the "sharks" after watching the early games of the tournament from his sick bed which i can only assume is a euphemism for sitting outside a trendy Brighton bar at midnight on Saturday with a refreshing iced beverage ! Bring on the new Botham. . . . Flintoff . . . ??

  • Yogz on October 14, 2009, 10:03 GMT

    Really miss Richie Benaud's caustic comments in matched over here in India. Truly the all-time greatest microphone warrior. An yeah, Tendulkar still rocks ;)