Andrew McGlashan on England in South Africa 2009-10 December 11, 2009

Never pat a burning dog


Graeme Swann was "gutted" to miss out on his first hat-trick at any level © Getty Images

In the modern game, media training has meant a lot of what players say is clichéd or coach-speak. With many players, you can go into a press conference and know exactly what you'll be playing back on your dictaphone 10 minutes later. “We hit the right areas”, “The guys gave 110%”, “I’ve just got to keep putting in the hard work.” The list goes on.

However, a Graeme Swann press conference is something to savour, so when he took 6 for 55 at Buffalo Park everyone knew they would have some great quotes to fill up their copy. Swann Days are certainly a long way from the legendary Duncan Days of old, when the former England coach used to have to front up to the media (a job he loathed), most notably on the days when his team had performed like a rabble.

Firstly Swann said he was “gutted” at missing his first hat-trick at any level when a delivery bounced over the stumps. “I told Straussy to put everyone round the bat”. He also added that he wanted to play the second two-dayer so he could avoid extra fitness work. "It doesn't really rock my boat," he said.

But the best was still to come as he explained how Matt Prior’s sense of humour earned him his three in four. "The next ball pitched in exactly the same place and hit the stumps,” he said. “The batsman was still laughing because Matt Prior said something funny, bless him. He said there are two things you should never do: cut a spinner and pat a burning dog.”

The first part of Prior’s international career included the jelly-bean incident against India at Trent Bridge, where the wicketkeeper took the blame for a childish prank, although it was unclear if he was the real culprit. He seems to have worked on his sledging since then and it was enough to leave his opposite number, Mangaliso Mosehle, in stitches.

Prior and Swann could make for an interesting, and amusing, combination during the Test series. It will be worth turning up the stump microphones.


Kevin Pietersen is the latest face (and hair) of Brylcreem and there was a coincidental link between KP and the original "Brylcreem Boy", Denis Compton, during Thursday’s play in East London.

As Pietersen did a lap of the ground, hair slicked back to make the PRs proud, he walked past the press box. Inside, Patrick Compton, one of Denis’ two sons and now a journalist based in Durban, was sat watching the game. Patrick had a brief, three-match, first-class career with Natal in 1979-80 and is now one of South Africa’s leading cricket writers. His nephew, Nick, has recently moved from Middlesex to Somerset in the English county game.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo