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I’ll be honest. I don’t like teenagers. Their music is dumb, their hair is too long, they are having way, way too much fun and most irritatingly of all, I’m not one of them. So, the Under-19 World Cup, an entire tournament confined to adolescents, was never going to appeal as a prospect. Still, if Sky has gone to the trouble of sending an outside broadcast unit all the way to a field in New Zealand, it is the least I can do to tune in and pretend to take an interest.
So on Saturday, I sat down to watch the highlights of the India versus Pakistan quarter-final. It was a little disorienting. A 50-over game, reduced to 23 overs per side, then squeezed into a half-hour transmission. Take out the ad breaks, the replays and the waffle and it boiled down to a collection of sixes, wickets and the more amusing cock-ups. Every piece of action seemed only vaguely related to what had gone before. It was like watching a French film.
I am not qualified to say whether the teams were any good, although after witnessing a particularly horrendous slog across the line, I had to drape a handkerchief over my marble bust of Peter May, lest it start to weep. But all told, they did a fair impression of a proper grown-up one-day game, albeit with more hair and fewer beer bellies. They even managed a few circus shots (I counted at least two Dilscoops, one of which actually worked).
I could have lived without the cranked-up celebrations though. I haven’t seen that much roaring, posing or strutting since I stopped watching WWF. It is not possible for the sane viewer to watch a cricketer puff up his chest, stick out his bottom lip and howl like a baboon in the mating season without feeling a spasm or two of irritation. When the cricketer in question is a teenager who has just dismissed one of his peers with a long hop, the irritation is increased exponentially. I blame Shane Watson.
Nick Knight was Sky’s man in a suit for this occasion, paying his dues before he moves on to bigger things. He troubles me, that one. It’s the eyes. At first, I thought he was just frightened. But now I’m sure he’s trying to exert some kind of mind control through hypnosis. I haven’t worked out what he’s up to yet, but he doesn’t appear to want to join the Botham-Gower-Lloyd-Hussain-Atherton axis of washed-up old warriors. I can imagine him hosting a Saturday night quiz show or founding a cult in the wilds of Warwickshire. He’s plainly someone to watch, by which I mean, keep your eye on him. Just remember to blink.
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Andrew Hughes is a writer and avid cricket watcher who has always retained a healthy suspicion of professional sportsmen, and like any right-thinking person rates Neville Cardus more highly than Don Bradman. Providing his ransom demands continue to be met, he has promised never to write a whimsical book about village cricket. @hughandrews73