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Friday, 1st October Watching little Ricky lose it with Zaheer today was just like old times and particularly welcome at the headquarters of Hughes Cricket Toys Limited, where we are well into the marketing phase of our latest product. Sales of the Graeme Swann “Catch a Kitty” board game have slackened of late, so just in time for Christmas, we are delighted to announce the launch of the Ricky Ponting Wind-Up Doll.
Kids will have hours of fun with this pint-sized plastic replica of old Punter himself. Push his buttons and hear him splutter with rage before unleashing a string of semi-audible Aussie expletives. Or twist his nose out of joint and watch him stomp round and round in circles, brandishing his plastic bat until his baggy green slips over his eyes and he falls over. Get ‘em now while his captaincy lasts.
Sunday, 3rd October The cricket in Mohali hasn’t been bad, but the real action is in the booth, where we are witnessing a fascinating clash for the Hogg-Shastri Lack Of Objectivity Trophy.
Stout Brad is clearly a graduate of the Ian Healy school of commentary, though with more roaring. He has so far managed to refrain from launching into the opening bars of "Advance Australia Fair", but you feel it could happen any moment.
The Ravster is of course, a smoother operator than his commentary chum. He gets the job done in subtler fashion. Take, for instance, the issue of the catch that dismissed Dhoni today. The big guy declared surprise that a catch that had clearly been taken was given, on the grounds that you usually can’t see that kind of catch clearly on replay even though this time you could. Nice work, sir.
Monday, 4th October It appears that the list of suitors for the Olympic Stadium now includes Essex County Cricket Club. Now I don’t mean to be unkind, but given that the stadium in question holds 80,000, I’m not sure that the tiny band of Essex regulars will quite do the facilities justice. Still, in the same spirit, I have made my own application to use the Olympic Stadium for a couple of family picnics in May 2013. I have offered to do my own catering and promised not to let my daughter draw on the plastic seats.
Tuesday, 5th October I’m glad that it was India’s youngest spinner who secured the winning runs because up until then it had appeared to be “Pick on Ojha” day at the PCA Stadium. First, Siva claimed he looked like he was going to cry whilst waiting to bat, and then, while standing at the non-striker’s end, he was on the receiving end of that rarest of phenomena: a VVS verbal tirade. The four-letter earful had commentators baffled and Ojha looking like a guilty puppy who knows he has done something wrong but isn’t sure what.
By the end, the stands that had been empty for much of the game were heaving. I like the attitude of the Indian crowds. Test cricket may be the most enthralling flavour of the sport. But it isn’t enthralling seven hours a day. Sometimes it is duller than listening to David Gower reading the shipping forecast. Rather than arriving two hours in advance with three packed meals, a thermos and a scorecard and sitting there all day, it makes far more sense to turn up when it gets exciting, then pop home to feed your parrot or clip your toenails during the quiet bits.
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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