August 4, 2010

A spy, a travesty, a blanket for Shastri

Andrew Hughes
Stuart Broad chats with England bowling coach David Saker, Trent Bridge, July 7, 2010
Saker: that spells mole  © Getty Images
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Friday 30th July Breathe a long, deep sigh of relief, crack open a bottle of champagne or offer a prayer of thanks to the appropriate deity; the second Test in Colombo is over! I didn’t see the game myself, although I hear there was one man in a village somewhere near Kandy who watched every ball on television but was struck dumb shortly after tea on the third day and has not been able to speak since.

I wonder what the ICC pitch report for this game will say? Day One: Flat. Day Two: Flat. Day Three: Flat, hint of turn. Day Four: Flat. Day Five: Enormous cracks. Ball turned square. (Just kidding. It was flat.) Yet whatever the report says, you can be sure that no sanctions will follow. We may, therefore, have to take matters into our own hands. I suggest strapping the groundsman into a slightly uncomfortable plastic chair, without a cushion, and forcing him to watch the whole thing again. Twice.

Sunday 1st August England have another Antipodean bowling “coach”, no doubt planted at the ECB by the Australian Secret Service. He has been busy ingratiating himself with the English bowlers, compiling a dossier on their weaknesses (embarrassing school nicknames, food allergies, where Stuart Broad is most ticklish). When the team arrives down under, he will defect to the motherland and hand over his secrets to Cricket Australia. Just like the other guy. (I mean, what kind of name is Troy? Clearly a spy.)

There were subtle clues for those of us eagle-eyed viewers who get twitchy about the old enemy during an Ashes year. For a start, when interviewed by Nasser Hussain this morning, Coach “Saker” seemed reluctant to talk about coaching. Suspicious. When asked who he wanted to win the Ashes, he said “England”, far, far too quickly. And then he claimed that he had been “upskilling” the English bowlers. This appears to be just harmless gibberish, but I suspect it to be some kind of code word that only his handlers back in Melbourne can decipher. He has to be stopped.

Monday 2nd August Today I managed to catch highlights of the weekend’s Caribbean climax. It was a sweaty, drizzly, nervy affair. Barbados first gave the game to Guyana. Guyana had it for a while, but didn’t really know what to do with it, so gave it back. Barbados found themselves with the prize, but polite to a fault, returned it to the men in green, just as the music stopped. With two needed from two balls, Big Benn fumbled around at mid-on as though he were trying to catch an oiled-up frog, and Guyana celebrated.

Teenager of the match and the tournament was Jonathan Foo, the only batsman who played like it was a Twenty20 game, levering long-limbed sixes and fours with a wristy flourish. A few years back, his career would have involved rapid promotion to the West Indian team, failure, re-selection, failure, re-selection and so on, until retiring with an average of 25. At least these days, thanks to the IPL, he might make a few dollars along the way.

Tuesday 3rd August Diminutive genius Sachin Tendulkar has asked for advertising hoardings above one of the sightscreens at the P Saravanamuttu Oval to be covered up. This is a good thing. I’m all for the covering up of distracting adverts. I’d suggest that during the next IPL someone could throw a blanket over Ravi Shastri, so viewers can concentrate on the game. Still, Sachin’s request might not have been successful if it had come from a lesser player. I believe that when Mohammad Ashraful made a similar request during the 2007 tour, he was told to wear higher shoes.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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Posted by pp.bose.53 on (February 8, 2011, 6:05 GMT)

Andrew,have you heard of a chap called Suresh Saraiya?The worst case of verbal diarrhoea that you ever have a nightmare about.Fortunately,he was in the pre-TV era.And Bumble?A close second perhaps.

Posted by M Thomas on (August 9, 2010, 14:36 GMT)

Andrew , what about the recall of M Yusuf? The lord and saviour of Pak cricket? A double century in the third test? waiting for your comments?

Posted by Pritu Raj on (August 9, 2010, 12:59 GMT)

your pitch report was the best part....u are extremely good.

Posted by M.Ramgopal on (August 7, 2010, 17:14 GMT)

Comment only when an expert opinion is needed.Otherwise,please allow the viewer he intelligence to decide that the'ball is turning from the leg to the middle stump' or some such thing that he is SEEING on the screen.Shastry,Harsha Bogle and the ilk irritate.The bloody 'verbal diaoerrias'(spelling not right but you know what it is) Ramgopal

Posted by Andrew Hughes on (August 5, 2010, 17:00 GMT)

Thanks all for the comments.

Srikanth, I'm glad you like the new format. I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to bind and gag Mr Shastri, his was just the first name that came to mind when I recalled the advertising-fest that was the IPL commentary.

Christy, I'm sure that the PCB will offer us many more opportunities to chuckle before the summer is out.

Hemi, I feel your pain, but I think you may be a little harsh in calling Gower a non-achiever. He is getting a bit grumpy these days, though.

Posted by Michael Lewis on (August 5, 2010, 16:17 GMT)

I suggest strapping the groundsman into a slightly uncomfortable plastic chair, without a cushion, and forcing him to watch the whole thing again. Twice...hahahahaha lol..the whole thing was really funny..lmao!!absolutely loved it..

Posted by Constructive on (August 5, 2010, 12:01 GMT)

I suppose there's a reason why your blog is buried in the depths of Page 2 and Zaltzman makes it to the forefront of our beloved Cricinfo homepage... Take a holiday mate, get away from Cricket and then dust yourself off and try again (maybe watch a match live at the ground - rather than listening to the Sky commentary team drone on every day)...Better still TMS is awesome - try them - Aggers will give you something to joke about.. Apparently it's about quality not quantity...

Posted by Harry on (August 5, 2010, 2:07 GMT)

"blanket over ravi" sure sure. But even the great Mr.Tony Greig is at it these days , mumbling about fancy mobiles and cars. Sob sob the greatest commentator and one of my favorites is being turned into one of those commercial zombies in the name of commercialism. Talking about flat pitches, maybe james cameron could add some depth to it and make it 3D, give it an avatar and add some life to it. p.s. Your article is a good read ... Cheers

Posted by Hemi on (August 5, 2010, 0:31 GMT)

If you want to hear tripe just listen to jerks in Sky box. Now with Warne we got some class and maybe Ian Botham otherwise who wants to listen to non-achievers like Atherton ,Hussain ,Gower and David Lloyd talk about cricket as if they were great at it.Somebody get some class players on the box - I am paying for these jerks ugh!

Posted by Sab-IND on (August 4, 2010, 17:57 GMT)

Hilarious piece! //Mohammad Ashraful made a similar request during the 2007 tour, he was told to wear higher shoes. ROTFL. But criously - wats with the flat pitches in SL- A total mockery of Test cricket. These matches must be declared a beneficiary match. With the amount of audience in attendance not sure if it is financially beneficial to any party - declaring so would make sure that Test Cricket would be benefitted.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andrew Hughes
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. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73

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