Pakistan July 17, 2010

Chirpy Warnie, grumpy Chappelli, and a nutty Afridi

One of the pleasures of the enthralling first Test at Lord’s was listening to Shane Warne
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One of the pleasures of the enthralling first Test at Lord’s was listening to Shane Warne. I emphasise the word "listening". On camera, Warnie is a slightly alarming presence, sporting a tan suggestive of a fortnight at one of Mercury’s more exclusive resorts and teeth that could guide trawlers to port on moonless nights. But safely ensconced in the commentators’ booth, he is an uplifting contributor who rivals Harsha Bhogle in the congeniality stakes.

For instance, I have yet to hear the game’s greatest legspinner utter a negative syllable about anyone or anything. All of life’s unpleasantness is encapsulated by the word, "rubbish", a word he occasionally uses to describe such diverse phenomena as inaccurate bowling and negative personality traits, but only to confirm that such things are entirely absent from the make-up of the player under discussion.

Optimism and generosity of spirit isn’t for everyone though, so viewers in need of an alternative had the option of tuning in to Test Match Special, where Ian Chappell was holding court. Gruffer than a billy goat recovering from laryngitis, he seems to have discovered new frontiers of grumpiness since I last heard him; at one point managing to inject bile, belligerence and bad temper into an anecdote about learning to ski.

Still, sometimes only plain speaking will suffice. Invited to assess the performance of Pakistan’s Test captain, Chappell remarked bluntly that he seemed to have gone backwards. Those of us willing the luxuriant-haired one to succeed could only concur as we watched him embark on a cricket-themed suicide ballet. Nineteen balls, 33 runs and then, the crazy icing on the failure cake, a spur of the moment resignation. Top that, Salman.

Still it’s not too late for showman Afridi to sign up for one of the many amusingly-named domestic Twenty20 teams. Yes, like an epidemic that was once briefly in the news, turned out to be duller than expected, but hasn’t yet gone away, the Friends Provident Twenty20 persists. A flurry of fixtures signifies that we are approaching the outskirts of the quarter-finals as those teams who have qualified for the next bit attempt to secure home advantage and those teams who can’t possibly qualify attempt to avoid injury while fulfilling their contractual obligations.

After witnessing all of Thursday’s play at Lord’s, I fought the impulse to switch off the county action and found myself watching a collective, calling themselves The Steelbacks, playing against Lancashire on a pitch that had been laid out by a groundsman with a keen sense of the comic potential of the absurd.

“That’s out of here!” roared the man with the microphone as one batsman lobbed a gentle slog sweep forty yards. In a Test match, such a shot would have resulted in a comfortable catch at shortish midwicket, but on a pitch reduced to back garden dimensions, it sailed over the rope and landed in the acres of space between where the boundary ought to have been and where it actually was.

My daughter is only six and I’m fairly sure that, granted a stiffish following breeze, she could reach that boundary with her size one plastic bat. Earlier during the day, a pre-recorded Clive Lloyd had suggested that Twenty20 is an exhibition. This was more like a family fun day. All that was missing was a coconut shy at square leg and Pakistan’s newest former captain running the tombola.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • alex blackman on July 31, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    Forgive me again but Andrew Hughes's humour made me laugh so much I forgot what the article is about!!

  • Mitcher on July 18, 2010, 8:15 GMT

    Arslan Ahmed Butt: I apologise if i've misunderstood the intention of your comment but if you're saying ponting doesn't attract people to cricket like afridi then you're kidding yourself. Look at ponting's sustained record which includes piling on runs at great pace in all forms of the game (don't forget brutal innings in world cup finals etc). No doubt Afridi is an excitement machine but producing the goods 5 per cent of the time isn't enough. Talk to me in 20 years and we'll see who everyone remembers..

  • Bilal(pak) on July 18, 2010, 6:25 GMT

    I want say something to Afridi please don't resign from test cricket because no one else you to create a community with our team of Pakistan so please carry on it i m big fan of your's take care of yourself and best of luck for the next time.Bilal(pak)

  • Ali on July 18, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    Afridi, Good luck for t20's and in odi's... Good decision and at right time if you retire after second test against australia, It would have been too late and it would have been open too much debate that PCB made Afridi to retire... bla bla

  • Mehdi Akram on July 18, 2010, 5:42 GMT

    Afridi should not retired now.

  • Nadeem on July 18, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    Ian Chappel is best in the business, knowledgeable and straight forward.... as far as Afridi is concerned, it's a very courageous decision but wrong timing...

  • Abid Mashwani on July 18, 2010, 2:43 GMT

    @shahzeb Nawaz, I totally agree with you that "the guru" Mr. Malik is using Akmal brothers effectively. Whenever a captain sat Malik out, we saw outrageous collapse of Pakistan inning, before batsmen showing some guts (I should say showing some form to cement their place in the team for next game) when match is already being lost.

    We saw it when YK and MY rested Malik, and we saw it again in the Lords. Therefore, I will suggest Pakistan drop Malik (for ever from test side), drop K Akmal from test side, and see how drastically things improve.

    But unfortunately, S Butt is one of the character in same episode, now we will see Malik back in the team, Akmals showing more guts, and Pakistan back to 2008.

    Very unfortunate for a talented side due to bad management at the PCB level.

  • Arslan Ahmed Butt on July 18, 2010, 0:36 GMT

    you just say 15 year of his career. Look at my friends Analysis Shahid Afridi and Ricky Ponting Careers Shahi Afridi Career Matches Debut in 1996 Tests 27 ODIs 296 T20Is 35 Ricky Ponting Career Matches Debut in 1995 Tests 145 ODIs 351 T20Is 17 see the difference u know one thing more he is business player no one come in ground to watch live cricket for Ricky Ponting Al thou he is great player and have record. Shahid Afridi is a Game thats y People Call him B00M B00M

  • z. Khan on July 18, 2010, 0:21 GMT

    Laugh Out Loud ..Afridi (one test player who didnt know anything about test cricket) retires for another Salman Butt( another player who after 10 years have finally started making 70 runs) , what a joke , i am ashamed to be a pakistani , these guys are a joke . This is a jokle for pakistan and its cricket.

  • Sadia on July 17, 2010, 23:46 GMT

    Afridi is fair enough in making his decision at right time.we should not expect miracles from Pakistan team,they need time to give results.no comparison between Australia n Pakistan teams.Aussies have experienced players,whereas pakistan team has no experience in terms of test cricket.still they shown great courage n talent in first match. Kamran akmal should b sent as opener or at no2,bcz he is doing nothing at no6 with showing no responsibility at all.

  • alex blackman on July 31, 2010, 15:10 GMT

    Forgive me again but Andrew Hughes's humour made me laugh so much I forgot what the article is about!!

  • Mitcher on July 18, 2010, 8:15 GMT

    Arslan Ahmed Butt: I apologise if i've misunderstood the intention of your comment but if you're saying ponting doesn't attract people to cricket like afridi then you're kidding yourself. Look at ponting's sustained record which includes piling on runs at great pace in all forms of the game (don't forget brutal innings in world cup finals etc). No doubt Afridi is an excitement machine but producing the goods 5 per cent of the time isn't enough. Talk to me in 20 years and we'll see who everyone remembers..

  • Bilal(pak) on July 18, 2010, 6:25 GMT

    I want say something to Afridi please don't resign from test cricket because no one else you to create a community with our team of Pakistan so please carry on it i m big fan of your's take care of yourself and best of luck for the next time.Bilal(pak)

  • Ali on July 18, 2010, 6:03 GMT

    Afridi, Good luck for t20's and in odi's... Good decision and at right time if you retire after second test against australia, It would have been too late and it would have been open too much debate that PCB made Afridi to retire... bla bla

  • Mehdi Akram on July 18, 2010, 5:42 GMT

    Afridi should not retired now.

  • Nadeem on July 18, 2010, 4:58 GMT

    Ian Chappel is best in the business, knowledgeable and straight forward.... as far as Afridi is concerned, it's a very courageous decision but wrong timing...

  • Abid Mashwani on July 18, 2010, 2:43 GMT

    @shahzeb Nawaz, I totally agree with you that "the guru" Mr. Malik is using Akmal brothers effectively. Whenever a captain sat Malik out, we saw outrageous collapse of Pakistan inning, before batsmen showing some guts (I should say showing some form to cement their place in the team for next game) when match is already being lost.

    We saw it when YK and MY rested Malik, and we saw it again in the Lords. Therefore, I will suggest Pakistan drop Malik (for ever from test side), drop K Akmal from test side, and see how drastically things improve.

    But unfortunately, S Butt is one of the character in same episode, now we will see Malik back in the team, Akmals showing more guts, and Pakistan back to 2008.

    Very unfortunate for a talented side due to bad management at the PCB level.

  • Arslan Ahmed Butt on July 18, 2010, 0:36 GMT

    you just say 15 year of his career. Look at my friends Analysis Shahid Afridi and Ricky Ponting Careers Shahi Afridi Career Matches Debut in 1996 Tests 27 ODIs 296 T20Is 35 Ricky Ponting Career Matches Debut in 1995 Tests 145 ODIs 351 T20Is 17 see the difference u know one thing more he is business player no one come in ground to watch live cricket for Ricky Ponting Al thou he is great player and have record. Shahid Afridi is a Game thats y People Call him B00M B00M

  • z. Khan on July 18, 2010, 0:21 GMT

    Laugh Out Loud ..Afridi (one test player who didnt know anything about test cricket) retires for another Salman Butt( another player who after 10 years have finally started making 70 runs) , what a joke , i am ashamed to be a pakistani , these guys are a joke . This is a jokle for pakistan and its cricket.

  • Sadia on July 17, 2010, 23:46 GMT

    Afridi is fair enough in making his decision at right time.we should not expect miracles from Pakistan team,they need time to give results.no comparison between Australia n Pakistan teams.Aussies have experienced players,whereas pakistan team has no experience in terms of test cricket.still they shown great courage n talent in first match. Kamran akmal should b sent as opener or at no2,bcz he is doing nothing at no6 with showing no responsibility at all.

  • Mitcher on July 17, 2010, 22:39 GMT

    deepak: Chappell's attacks on Steve Waugh go back much further than his one recent comment about captaincy.

  • khuram naveed on July 17, 2010, 21:12 GMT

    Afridi is another pakistani to let Pakistan down.......... Ithink this is bad time 4 whole nation that v r getting exposed every now n then........... even whwn v r not wrong........................... Afridi is rite but he have chosen wrong moment to do this................

  • Muhammad Umar on July 17, 2010, 16:02 GMT

    I will sport Afridi to take away himself from test cricket but he should complete atleast english season in all form of cricket.

  • Motan on July 17, 2010, 15:11 GMT

    it is right descision from afridi to retire from test crickrt he should focuss on one day and t20 cricket pcb should have to take back Asim Kamal & Imran Nazir not yousuf & younus

  • shahzeb Nawaz on July 17, 2010, 15:06 GMT

    In Pakistan cricket team no one is playing for country only for there self. Drop akmal brother every thing should be fine. we support afridi , Just build the team with new comers and you get results in 1 and 2 years

    LERAN FROM INDIANS Cricket Team

  • nadia on July 17, 2010, 15:00 GMT

    it might be a right decision but not at the right time.

  • Fawad Chughtai on July 17, 2010, 14:47 GMT

    very courageous and honest stuff done by shahid afridi. we should appreciate he displayed and realized the true thought rather than sticking in test cricket.

  • sanjeewakaru on July 17, 2010, 14:23 GMT

    I'm a SriLankan . I have't listened someone who is thoughtful commentator like IAN chappell.To me,Bill Lawry is the best entertaining and lively one.

  • Naveen on July 17, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    I appreciate your creative humour Andy but even I feel Chappel is the best in business when it comes to not saying the obvious and being frank, along with the immense knowledge of the game. He may not be right all the time but he has always been consistent with his views in today's world of diplomatic hypocrites. And about Warnie, its acceptable that he doesn't talk too negatively about any player as long as he really means it.

  • luan on July 17, 2010, 14:13 GMT

    This is the third time afridi has 'retired' from test cricket..he just loves being in the limelight. I won't be suprised if he comes out of retirement for the next series pakistan has.

  • Saad on July 17, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    i fear for salman butts career. it could be over before the remaining test matches are completed

  • maximum6 on July 17, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    I think donkey rides and 'Bowl at the Elephant' should be part of the pageantry at 20/20. Maybe the players could dress as clowns and chase eachother round the ground. Perhaps they could run a street play in the background or Punch and Judy shows. Anything to water down the 'cricket' side, which is fairly meaningless anyway. Maybe they could reintroduce a certain circus spirit of the Roman amphitheatre-useful as rapid groundclearer,and great TV.

  • Faisal Iqbal on July 17, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    I want say something to Afridi please don't resign from test cricket because no one else you to create a community with our team of Pakistan so please carry on it i m big fan of your's take care of yourself and best of luck for the next time......

  • Chohdry on July 17, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    I believe that the tv commentators aren't supposed to be paid for stating the obvious. It is the insight of cricket, we the fans tune in for. Ian Chapell provides that. If all of em start saying 'this guys is great, he has great potential, he is amazing talent', i will start looking for the mute button on my remote control.

    Commentators essentially are journalists. The moment they start realizing that they need to be diplomatic, they are not journalists, and therefore, not commentators.

    We need more Ian Chappels, Boycotts, slaters, holdings, Hussains for cricket viewers education, and a few bothams simply to keep cricket fun!

  • roshan on July 17, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    it is right descision from afridi to retire from test crickrt he should focuss on one day and t20 cricket pcb should have to take back yousuf & younus

  • deepak on July 17, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    @mitcher: chappelli only said that steve didnt know what to do apart from setting 7-2 fields when australia were under pressure like as in kolkata.the whole day(saw on tv) he set fields which were seven on off and two on onside to the fast bowlers and expected both dravid and laxman to choke which didnt happen.he obviously feels steve's captaincy had no part in australia winning a lot of matches.(which i too feel is true)

  • khadeer on July 17, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    Everyone has his own opinion. I think Ian Chappell is the best in the business. Yes people may not like him for his no nonsense attitude. Seldom have i seen anyone you speaks his mind and not just utter sweet words. We love him here in Australia and feel that he ought to give more time commentating.

  • ashesrocks on July 17, 2010, 8:37 GMT

    Warnie was much more appealing when he was playing, now his presence all over the place is a bit tiring for all. He and Chappelli need to move on and accept the likes of Waugh, Ponting etc .. rather than just talk them down.

  • Mitcher on July 17, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    Don't know how often you get Chappelli in England but spare a thought for Australian viewers who've had to deal with his 'rubbish' for their entire cricket viewing lives (20-odd yrs and counting in my case). Seems the only times cricket was agreeable with grumpy guts was when he was strutting the world's grounds, as we hear with his tiresome self indulgent annecdotes every five minutes. Agree on Warne as love listening to him, especially when spinners are on. Only hope he doesnt tend down his buddy chappelli's path of getting bogged down in bitter agendas (eg ian's grating hatred of steve waugh).

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  • Mitcher on July 17, 2010, 6:51 GMT

    Don't know how often you get Chappelli in England but spare a thought for Australian viewers who've had to deal with his 'rubbish' for their entire cricket viewing lives (20-odd yrs and counting in my case). Seems the only times cricket was agreeable with grumpy guts was when he was strutting the world's grounds, as we hear with his tiresome self indulgent annecdotes every five minutes. Agree on Warne as love listening to him, especially when spinners are on. Only hope he doesnt tend down his buddy chappelli's path of getting bogged down in bitter agendas (eg ian's grating hatred of steve waugh).

  • ashesrocks on July 17, 2010, 8:37 GMT

    Warnie was much more appealing when he was playing, now his presence all over the place is a bit tiring for all. He and Chappelli need to move on and accept the likes of Waugh, Ponting etc .. rather than just talk them down.

  • khadeer on July 17, 2010, 8:42 GMT

    Everyone has his own opinion. I think Ian Chappell is the best in the business. Yes people may not like him for his no nonsense attitude. Seldom have i seen anyone you speaks his mind and not just utter sweet words. We love him here in Australia and feel that he ought to give more time commentating.

  • deepak on July 17, 2010, 9:46 GMT

    @mitcher: chappelli only said that steve didnt know what to do apart from setting 7-2 fields when australia were under pressure like as in kolkata.the whole day(saw on tv) he set fields which were seven on off and two on onside to the fast bowlers and expected both dravid and laxman to choke which didnt happen.he obviously feels steve's captaincy had no part in australia winning a lot of matches.(which i too feel is true)

  • roshan on July 17, 2010, 9:50 GMT

    it is right descision from afridi to retire from test crickrt he should focuss on one day and t20 cricket pcb should have to take back yousuf & younus

  • Chohdry on July 17, 2010, 11:28 GMT

    I believe that the tv commentators aren't supposed to be paid for stating the obvious. It is the insight of cricket, we the fans tune in for. Ian Chapell provides that. If all of em start saying 'this guys is great, he has great potential, he is amazing talent', i will start looking for the mute button on my remote control.

    Commentators essentially are journalists. The moment they start realizing that they need to be diplomatic, they are not journalists, and therefore, not commentators.

    We need more Ian Chappels, Boycotts, slaters, holdings, Hussains for cricket viewers education, and a few bothams simply to keep cricket fun!

  • Faisal Iqbal on July 17, 2010, 12:40 GMT

    I want say something to Afridi please don't resign from test cricket because no one else you to create a community with our team of Pakistan so please carry on it i m big fan of your's take care of yourself and best of luck for the next time......

  • maximum6 on July 17, 2010, 13:11 GMT

    I think donkey rides and 'Bowl at the Elephant' should be part of the pageantry at 20/20. Maybe the players could dress as clowns and chase eachother round the ground. Perhaps they could run a street play in the background or Punch and Judy shows. Anything to water down the 'cricket' side, which is fairly meaningless anyway. Maybe they could reintroduce a certain circus spirit of the Roman amphitheatre-useful as rapid groundclearer,and great TV.

  • Saad on July 17, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    i fear for salman butts career. it could be over before the remaining test matches are completed

  • luan on July 17, 2010, 14:13 GMT

    This is the third time afridi has 'retired' from test cricket..he just loves being in the limelight. I won't be suprised if he comes out of retirement for the next series pakistan has.