England September 15, 2010

Fielding is important to Pakistan? Sez who?

No coach, nothing on the introductory video - why should Mohammad Irfan practise diving and catching?

Sunday, 12th September No one likes fielding, apart from Jonty Rhodes and one or two Australians who have probably spent too much time in the sun. Fielding isn’t natural. Most players need to work incredibly hard at it just to reach a level where they won’t embarrass themselves on television and even then, they can only keep it up for so long. England started the summer well, but it’s wearing off and they too are back to stumbling and slipping about in the field like newborn foals taking their first tentative ice skating lessons.

It came as something of a surprise therefore to hear the estimable Mr Afridi castigating one of his own players, the genial green giant Mohammad Irfan, for not acquitting himself well in the field.

"I'm really disappointed with this guy," said The Boom, "Cricket is not all about just batting and bowling, nowadays fielding is very important.”

This is rather harsh, I feel. Irfan could be forgiven for complaining that they’d said nothing about fielding being important when he sat through the “So You Want to Play For Pakistan?” introductory video, nor had it featured at any of their training sessions. Pakistan don’t even have a fielding coach, which is just as well, because the poor chap would by now be heavily sedated and occupying a padded cell in one of the nation’s more secure facilities for the terminally bewildered.

Monday, 13th September An odd little competition, the Champions League, but it was fun to watch Makhaya Ntini loping to the crease again today as some Warriors had a splendid time beating up some Bushrangers. And thanks to British Eurosport, or more accurately, to their accountants, we were spared the experience of a studio full of dull men in open-necked shirts telling us what we already knew. This no-frills, straight-to-the-stadium approach is excellent. Now if we could just get rid of those commentators…

Tuesday, 14th September The never-interesting dispute between those abbreviated titans of Caribbean cricket, the WIPA and the WICB rumbles on like a persistent cough. Today’s meeting kicked off when Tweedledum, head quibbler for the WIPA, complained about the omission of Ramnaresh “Hamstring” Sarwan from the list of centrally subsidised failures. Tweedledee, official bickerer for the WICB, brushed aside these complaints and suggested that the WIPA were just arguing for the sake of it.

These formalities aside, the meeting turned to further hotly contested issues. There was an interesting discussion about the desirability of cats as opposed to dogs, a stimulating debate on the relative merits of the two gentlemen’s mamas and a most enlightening exchange concerning the correct pronunciation of “potato”. Proceedings were brought to a close after a brief but vigorous swapping of fisticuffs and some open and honest hair pulling. Both sides agreed to do it all again next week.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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