Q&A May 25, 2010

Tendulkar v Anand, cricketer v bear, and a plot to kidnap Gary Kirsten

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Bear facts: New South Wales’ finest pose with a somewhat hirsute training partner © New South Wales Cricket Association
 

Hello, Confectionery Stallers. As you read this, I am attempting to convert Southern Italy to cricket and/or discussing with my wife and children over a few plates of pasta the likely outcome of the forthcoming epoch-defining two-Test series between England and Bangladesh that will bring the planet to a standstill from Thursday. (That was poorly phrased – I did not mean that I will be discussing the Tests with someone whilst my family are suspended in mid-air from the ceiling of a nice trattoria. Let me be quite clear on that. That will almost certainly not happen, provided they behave and listen to my analysis of Junaid Siddique’s technical shortcomings.)

In the meantime, here is the first Official Confectionery Stall Q&A, in response to your responses to my Elvis-style Comeback Special blog last week.

Question (posted by “Circe”): Do you think Sachin Tendulkar can beat Vishy Anand (or maybe Veselin Topalov) at chess? What do you think his fans think? What do they really think? What does David Cameron think?

Zaltzmanswer: Tendulkar can and would beat Anand at chess. Whilst I have no idea whether Tendulkar even knows the rules of chess, I am confident that Anand’s legendary concentration would be broken by his being fully star-struck in the presence of the little maestro at his table. Especially if Tendulkar was padded up, wearing a helmet and brandishing a bat (coincidentally, the exact attire worn by Emanuel Lasker when he defeated Wilhelm Steinitz to become world chess champion in 1894). Anand would forget all about his Napoleonic openings, Bogoljubov defences and Falkbeer countergambits (thank you, Wikipedia), and try to ask Tendulkar about his greatest moments as a cricketing megastar. Tendulkar, who must be used to sledging, would ignore Anand and remain focused on the game, leading the champion chess wiz to resign in frustration and ask Tendulkar to autograph his bishops.

Tendulkar’s chances against Topalov would not be so good. Bulgaria’s Topalov is a renowned cricket-hater ever since he went to the circus in Sofia as a child. Due to a mix-up with bookings, instead of the circus Topalov saw Chris Tavare presenting a three-hour seminar on the forward-defensive, whilst Kent were deducted 16 County Championship points for sending out a performing rhinoceros and a trapeze artiste to open the batting against Middlesex at Canterbury.

David Cameron thinks that either Anand or Tendulkar could win, even though three weeks ago he was publicly adamant that Anand was useless at chess and wouldn’t stand a chance against Sachin.

Question (posted by Mick): Here's a question for you: are you ever going to finish that "greatest moments of the decade" thing you started but only got up to 2003? Also, if they manage to succeed in human cloning, which former English cricketer would you like to see brought back from DNA? WG Grace or Douglas Jardine, perhaps? And which cricketer would make a good stand-in PM for England given your current political madness?

Zaltzmanswer: I’ll answer those in turn.

(A) Ah, yes, er, sure I’ll finish it, I just don’t want to rush into it and accidentally pick moments which were not actually “the greatest”. By which I mean, thanks for the reminder. I may finish it. But given that England won a tournament whilst it remained unfinished, I may sit on it for a few more decades.

(B) Regarding a former England star to recreate in a laboratory, it would have to be 19th-century grinder William Scotton. His Wisden obituary stated that “he carried caution to such extremes that it was often impossible to take any pleasure in seeing him play”. In fact, his batting was so ceaselessly tedious that he committed suicide in 1893. It is not clear whether or not this was during an especially painstaking innings, but it remains a rather extreme method of making yourself a more interesting cricketer.

I would bring Scotton back to life, build a net with a bowling machine in a secret location, kidnap Gary Kirsten, and force the South African Beethoven Of Bore to watch Scotton block it for the next 10 years. I would treat Kirsten humanely and keep him well fed and watered, with internet access to communicate with his family, but I would make him sit through every single ball of Scotton’s decade-long vigil. And at the end of it, I would say to Kirsten: “Now you know how I felt after your double-century at Old Trafford in 1998.”

(C) Shahid Afridi. That would get the kids interested in politics again.

QUESTION (posted by Graham Bingham): Which cricketer (past, current or future) do you think would have the best chance in a fight with a bear?

Zaltzmanswer: This is a very difficult question to answer. The obvious temptation is to say England’s Alistair Cook, who tends to look awkward even when creaming the ball to all parts, and when struggling for form bats as if he is being attacked by a bear. He would therefore be better equipped to fight an actual bear than most international cricketers.

Other candidates include: Douglas Jardine, who would irritate the bear with his haughty manner and have no qualms about using dubious tactics to win (or at least asking Harold Larwood to do so); Merv Hughes, who may have actually been a bear (and recent scientific tests suggest that he shares 98% of the same DNA as a bear); and Bhagwath Chandrasekhar, who took his six pet grizzly bears with him on all his tours with India (“I can’t spin the ball if I don’t know they’ve had their lunch and a good snooze,” he once said tearfully after a careless Edgbaston groundsman let them loose onto the streets of Birmingham).

QUESTION (posted by Aidan): Andy, with the recent success of the South Africa A-England coalition in the ICC World Twenty20, is this the birth of a "New Cricket"?

Zaltzmanswer: Yes. The first international limited-overs tournament occurred in 1975, the year after the last UK hung parliament. England proceeded not to win a tournament until just days after the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition was formalised. This cannot be coincidence. Clearly, English cricketers can only perform (in the shorter forms of the game) under a compromise administration. It makes them feel safe and wanted. So with Prime Minister Cameroniclegg’s “New Politics” changing the democratic landscape of Britain, we can also say that Collingwood’s triumphant South Africa-tinged England represent “New Cricket”.

England have long utilised foreign labour in their national cricket team – WG Grace famously once kidnapped the Australian player Billy Midwinter, and recently unearthed MCC papers suggest that WG himself was in fact originally an Italian chef called Luigi who was found chained to a lamp post in Gloucester, wearing a fake beard, after a stag night in 1865. He escaped jail and potential deportation to a colony only by agreeing to make up the numbers for the county team the next day after the opening batsman died of scurvy. And the rest is heavily bearded history.

I hope that resolves your queries. Please leave any further questions you would like me to answer in the comments section underneath this blog, and I will answer them on my return to Cricketland.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Raghav on October 30, 2010, 3:57 GMT

    How many millenia do you think it'll take the BCCI to realise that India plays a teeny bit more with Sri Lanka than any other nation?

  • Aditya Anchuri on July 15, 2010, 20:52 GMT

    Which non-cricketing country would you like to see become a major cricketing power in future? Personally I would like to see Argentina or Mexico. What about you?

  • Pradeep on June 22, 2010, 15:45 GMT

    Considering the fitness of current Indian team. Who do you think will surpass Jesse Ryder in terms of weight?? Will it be Rohit, Yuvraj, Yarbhajan, Raina or the captain Dhoni??

  • Vishesh Matto on May 30, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    Is Anil Kumble the fastest vegetarian bowler, or does that title go to Venkatesh Prasad?

  • the bear jew on May 27, 2010, 23:54 GMT

    this is not a question but a request. Could you please write more for a global audience than just a British one? i might be the only ignorant reader of cricinfo but i had to wiki david cameron to find out about the turmoil of the british parliament.

  • Jon Beckett on May 26, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    A space satellite crashes back to Earth with a message from a group of super intelligent aliens claiming both Chris Tavare and Peter Roebuck as their own, and demanding their safe and speedy return. What will this shocking news mean for the world of cricket at large, and which cricketer would you send as peace emissary to the planet Roetav

  • Chintan Chauhan on May 26, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    Who would win the T-20, ODI and a test if Gordon Brown XI were playing the Cameron XI? Also, who would be the top run getter, wicket taker, fielder, and glamorous player on the pitch? :)

    Also, do you think Heston Blumenthal should offer to help 'Tendullkar's' (the restaurant started by Sachin) become the best restaurant in the world? What would the chef's special be called then?

  • cricketfanatic_ja on May 26, 2010, 1:24 GMT

    Andy, what would be your worst World XI of all time?

  • Nitin Patil on May 25, 2010, 21:34 GMT

    Regarding SA-Eng alliance: Do you know India lost badly in 2009,2010 T-20 because they lacked 4 overseas players in their team. India won T20 WC in 2007, back then IPL was not their. Since IPL started in 2008, Indian players are used to win T20 matches along with four overseas players..

  • rohanahuja on May 25, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    haha!anand would actually beat tendulkar.....topalov 2 wud beat tendulkar.i was watching all anands games against topalov also known as topi..i am a chess player from india and a cricket fan

  • Raghav on October 30, 2010, 3:57 GMT

    How many millenia do you think it'll take the BCCI to realise that India plays a teeny bit more with Sri Lanka than any other nation?

  • Aditya Anchuri on July 15, 2010, 20:52 GMT

    Which non-cricketing country would you like to see become a major cricketing power in future? Personally I would like to see Argentina or Mexico. What about you?

  • Pradeep on June 22, 2010, 15:45 GMT

    Considering the fitness of current Indian team. Who do you think will surpass Jesse Ryder in terms of weight?? Will it be Rohit, Yuvraj, Yarbhajan, Raina or the captain Dhoni??

  • Vishesh Matto on May 30, 2010, 5:27 GMT

    Is Anil Kumble the fastest vegetarian bowler, or does that title go to Venkatesh Prasad?

  • the bear jew on May 27, 2010, 23:54 GMT

    this is not a question but a request. Could you please write more for a global audience than just a British one? i might be the only ignorant reader of cricinfo but i had to wiki david cameron to find out about the turmoil of the british parliament.

  • Jon Beckett on May 26, 2010, 14:44 GMT

    A space satellite crashes back to Earth with a message from a group of super intelligent aliens claiming both Chris Tavare and Peter Roebuck as their own, and demanding their safe and speedy return. What will this shocking news mean for the world of cricket at large, and which cricketer would you send as peace emissary to the planet Roetav

  • Chintan Chauhan on May 26, 2010, 4:37 GMT

    Who would win the T-20, ODI and a test if Gordon Brown XI were playing the Cameron XI? Also, who would be the top run getter, wicket taker, fielder, and glamorous player on the pitch? :)

    Also, do you think Heston Blumenthal should offer to help 'Tendullkar's' (the restaurant started by Sachin) become the best restaurant in the world? What would the chef's special be called then?

  • cricketfanatic_ja on May 26, 2010, 1:24 GMT

    Andy, what would be your worst World XI of all time?

  • Nitin Patil on May 25, 2010, 21:34 GMT

    Regarding SA-Eng alliance: Do you know India lost badly in 2009,2010 T-20 because they lacked 4 overseas players in their team. India won T20 WC in 2007, back then IPL was not their. Since IPL started in 2008, Indian players are used to win T20 matches along with four overseas players..

  • rohanahuja on May 25, 2010, 18:42 GMT

    haha!anand would actually beat tendulkar.....topalov 2 wud beat tendulkar.i was watching all anands games against topalov also known as topi..i am a chess player from india and a cricket fan

  • Riemann Ronalds on May 25, 2010, 17:08 GMT

    My question is about the Big Freddie. Considering that England won a limited overs world event without him, do you really think they need him again in limited overs? Shouldn't he retire from all forms of cricket with the exception of where he is the best -- The Ashes? Imagine a perfectly fit towards start, ready to get injured in the midst, and to play even with injury in the last test Freddie Flintoff! England could keep Ashes much longer ...

  • Andyistic on May 25, 2010, 16:52 GMT

    Andy is the man! I began the morning looking at an old lady hang out her unmentionables for drying! The day got worse till I read your piece. 'That will almost certainly not happen, provided they behave and listen to my analysis of Junaid Siddique’s technical shortcomings'. TOP STUFF MATE! If you were a lady with an attractive upper-body, I'd propose to you right away. Err...do you have an attractive younger sister with the same sense of humor and of marriageable age? I'd soon be earning a PhD in Computer Science from a top 3 grad school on the east coast and promise a stable income. Cheers!

  • Brian on May 25, 2010, 16:38 GMT

    Did Hitler kill his German cricket team after watching a test match for 5 days that ended in a draw? What if he was the PCB chairman?

  • kanak on May 25, 2010, 14:39 GMT

    cricketer fighting a bear... the obvious choice is Venkatpathy Raju, Mr. Muscles himself! :)

  • sathish on May 25, 2010, 13:14 GMT

    The fight for Earth with the Martians will be decided by a cricket match. Who will your XI be, and why?

  • Selvanambi on May 25, 2010, 11:16 GMT

    Question: What would be your suggestion if you are asked to change some rules in the game of cricket?

  • Gag on May 25, 2010, 10:02 GMT

    LOL! The last paragraph about WG Grace was hilarious!

    Question: Which international cricket team do you think would be world number 1 in tiddlywinks? And who would be player of the year?

  • Economist on May 25, 2010, 9:47 GMT

    @Mudit Mittal

    With Tendulkar in the team, India have had to chase 250+ 94 times, winning 25, losing 67, and 2 no-results. Tendulkar's average in wins is 51.50, in losses is 37.18, in n/rs 15.00, for an overall average of 40.40.

  • Markinspain on May 25, 2010, 9:20 GMT

    Mr Zaltzman,

    Perhaps you could be of some assistance. Many years ago a friend and I attempted to set up an underwater darts tournament, and despite initial enthusiasm the project eventually met with what could best be described as "partial success". Given the increasingly frantic attempts to devise forms of cricket which appeal to those elements of the public who demand novelty in their sporting fare, we are now considering organising a world underwater cricket competition. Which cricketers currently on the county circuit do you think would be best equipped and most willing to help us with this ground-breaking initiative? I am of course aware that Paul Collingwood has been known to breatthe through his gills during some of England's rain-assisted rearguard actions, notably at Cardiff last year, but following his T20 exploits I gather he is unwilling to diversify further at this point.

    Thanks in advance,

    Mark

  • dodobird on May 25, 2010, 9:15 GMT

    Which current player of the Indian Cricket Team do you think would give you stiff competition if they started writing their own blog on Cricinfo?

    (not because of popularity though)

  • Steve on May 25, 2010, 9:07 GMT

    "Heavily bearded history"... LOVED IT.

  • ss on May 25, 2010, 8:56 GMT

    hey andy - how many yrs would a young southafrican cricketer need to spend in the west indies to be eligible to play for them? windies are so useless right now i think some of the SA born boyz are needed there now more than in england!

  • Adway on May 25, 2010, 8:40 GMT

    Hi Andy! Another funny article, but not like ones in the past.

    I wanted to ask you 'If you were to compare Anand-Topolov game with any other battle of cricket, which would you choose?'. It was Ferocious, but given the amount of time per game, nothing much happened.

  • Prashant on May 25, 2010, 8:03 GMT

    LOL !!

  • Ritwik Bhuyan on May 25, 2010, 7:46 GMT

    @ Mudit Mittal

    Sorry, that option is not available on Cricinfo Statsguru, but what I can provide you is his record while chasing in ODI cricket over all - 43.43 (ave), 100s- 17. 50's - 77

  • Matthew on May 25, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    Hi, I have a question that you Mr. Zaltzman may just be the only person insane enough to answer adequately. What current international Cricketers most remind you of a Cottage Pie, and of those if they were a Cottage Pie who would taste the best?

  • Richard Hayward on May 25, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    Just a question. Why don't off spinners learn to bowl legspin so they can use it as their surprise delivery. You would have thought with hundreds of hours of practise in the nets they could come up with something?

  • Rahul J on May 25, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    as entertaining as ever andy... "Shahid Afridi. That would get the kids interested in politics again." haha

  • bruce on May 25, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    Are you related to Ryan Sidebottom?

  • P.Satish on May 25, 2010, 7:12 GMT

    Do you think Ponting is secretly thrilled Clarke made a pig's breakfast of the Final? The last thing he'd have wanted is for Clarke to win a WC and then himself to wave the South Africans, er, the English a tearful good-bye as they carry the Ashes back home!!

  • ravi on May 25, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    If you kidnap Gary Kirsten (10 years!!!) what will happen to Team India and their mission "Counter Bouncers" (in pubs and on-field) as part of World Cup preparations? Who do you think, among the current crop of cricketers is worst suited for the role of IPL Commissioner? Which is the country in which you would love to see cricket being played in the near future ?

  • Christy on May 25, 2010, 6:43 GMT

    Andy, that was great. What do you tell Sunny Gavaskar, now that Stuart Broad has stood up to be counter as a performer and without relying heavily on his father's officialdom to help him in such a performance ?

  • Mudit Mittal on May 25, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Hi. I've been looking for the answer to this question for some time now. Maybe you can help.

    What is Sachin's average in ODIs in which India had to chase a score more than 250 ?? Somehow i have the impression that the answer will be a true measure of the little master's greatness.

    Thx.

  • Circe on May 25, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    Thank you for you expert evaluation of the relative strengths of GMs Anand, Tendulkar and Topalov. When and where are you going to start your chess blog?

  • Piyush on May 25, 2010, 6:15 GMT

    What are your thoughts about renaming the current England cricket team more accurately as the "Common Cricketing Front of the Commonwealth of Nations"? That way, they could also claim byes, strictly when needed, against (in no particular order) Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe(subject to their membership being valid), and Ireland, among others.

    Do I get a prize from Giles Clarke, or from Andrew Zaltzman, for discovering this formula to ensure that by the elegant masterstroke of a name-change, England would therefore ensure that they win the next world cup(unless, of course, the Netherlands or Afghanistan have something else in mind)?

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  • Piyush on May 25, 2010, 6:15 GMT

    What are your thoughts about renaming the current England cricket team more accurately as the "Common Cricketing Front of the Commonwealth of Nations"? That way, they could also claim byes, strictly when needed, against (in no particular order) Australia, India, New Zealand, South Africa, the West Indies, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Zimbabwe(subject to their membership being valid), and Ireland, among others.

    Do I get a prize from Giles Clarke, or from Andrew Zaltzman, for discovering this formula to ensure that by the elegant masterstroke of a name-change, England would therefore ensure that they win the next world cup(unless, of course, the Netherlands or Afghanistan have something else in mind)?

  • Circe on May 25, 2010, 6:18 GMT

    Thank you for you expert evaluation of the relative strengths of GMs Anand, Tendulkar and Topalov. When and where are you going to start your chess blog?

  • Mudit Mittal on May 25, 2010, 6:32 GMT

    Hi. I've been looking for the answer to this question for some time now. Maybe you can help.

    What is Sachin's average in ODIs in which India had to chase a score more than 250 ?? Somehow i have the impression that the answer will be a true measure of the little master's greatness.

    Thx.

  • Christy on May 25, 2010, 6:43 GMT

    Andy, that was great. What do you tell Sunny Gavaskar, now that Stuart Broad has stood up to be counter as a performer and without relying heavily on his father's officialdom to help him in such a performance ?

  • ravi on May 25, 2010, 7:05 GMT

    If you kidnap Gary Kirsten (10 years!!!) what will happen to Team India and their mission "Counter Bouncers" (in pubs and on-field) as part of World Cup preparations? Who do you think, among the current crop of cricketers is worst suited for the role of IPL Commissioner? Which is the country in which you would love to see cricket being played in the near future ?

  • P.Satish on May 25, 2010, 7:12 GMT

    Do you think Ponting is secretly thrilled Clarke made a pig's breakfast of the Final? The last thing he'd have wanted is for Clarke to win a WC and then himself to wave the South Africans, er, the English a tearful good-bye as they carry the Ashes back home!!

  • bruce on May 25, 2010, 7:15 GMT

    Are you related to Ryan Sidebottom?

  • Rahul J on May 25, 2010, 7:35 GMT

    as entertaining as ever andy... "Shahid Afridi. That would get the kids interested in politics again." haha

  • Richard Hayward on May 25, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    Just a question. Why don't off spinners learn to bowl legspin so they can use it as their surprise delivery. You would have thought with hundreds of hours of practise in the nets they could come up with something?

  • Matthew on May 25, 2010, 7:39 GMT

    Hi, I have a question that you Mr. Zaltzman may just be the only person insane enough to answer adequately. What current international Cricketers most remind you of a Cottage Pie, and of those if they were a Cottage Pie who would taste the best?