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Saturday, 30th October The Ashes build-up is a carnival of maddening irrelevance; a gigantic sack of junk mail pushed, one envelope at a time, into the letterbox of your consciousness, a carousel of pointlessness upon which the same players go round and round and round, being prompted to say the same things over and over again until we no longer feel like rational human beings, and start to get the strange urge to bludgeon Stuart Broad to death with an enormous haddock. Or perhaps that’s just me.
Anyway, today’s brain fluff came courtesy of Doug Bollinger, who, under pressure to entertain us with his thoughts, came up with the revelation that he might not swear at Kevin Pietersen. He couldn’t rule out swearing at the other English batsmen, or indeed their wives, girlfriends or extended families, but he is not going to swear at KP. Indeed, he hopes to “put him off his game by not saying anything”.
I have my doubts about this strategy. I’m not sure that KP will necessarily go to pieces just because a bowler doesn’t swear at him. In my experience, having people not swear at you is on the whole to be preferred. But Dougie’s plan might have a wider application. I suspect that our quality of life would be greatly improved if, for the next three weeks, everyone concerned with English or Australian cricket adhered rigidly to a “not saying anything” policy.
Sunday, 31st October Fortunately, in between the speculation about games that haven’t happened yet, there is some real cricket going on. I don’t think I’ve seen too many better demolitions than the one Abdul Razzaq visited on South Africa today. Once again Pakistan got themselves into a tangle, once again it was left to Abdul to extricate his team, and once again he pulled it off, lashing the ball to all parts with the lusty vigour of a farmer taking a scythe to a field of wheat. If he isn’t in the IPL, I won’t be watching.
Monday, 1st November The latest news from camp England - that Graeme Swann had bruised his thumb whilst trying to pick his nose - sparked pandemonium amongst the gentlemen of the press. With only three weeks to go before the start of that thing we are not going to mention, did this injury mean the team might as well come home right now? Would it traumatise his team-mates? Would Her Majesty react badly to the news and announce her abdication? Did it have any implications for global warming? How many words can we get out of this? What does his cat think…
Tuesday, 2nd November Herschelle Gibbs’ new autobiography has not gone down well in some quarters. For a start, To The Point is possibly the laziest cricket-related pun ever to feature on the front cover of a soon-to-be-former-sportsman’s collection of anecdotes. Worse than that, Herschelle has used this autobiographical tin opener of truth to crank open a container of non-athropodic invertebrates. He has alleged that there was a “clique” in the South African team. It appears that this clique was made up of “reliable” players who would deliberately attempt to intimidate their more talented colleagues by turning up on time, trying very hard and not getting out in a ridiculous fashion in the first over. And after just 361 internationals, this sinister cabal finally succeeded in removing a promising 36-year-old youngster from the national team on the flimsy grounds that he had only scored 12 or so runs in the preceding five years.
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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. His latest book is available here and here @hughandrews73