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Friday, 21st January Yet more avant-garde administration from the wacky pranksters who gave us the self-rescinding lifetime ban and the incredible vanishing allegations. The PCB have gingered up the yawnsome selection ritual by flinging down a conceptual doosra.
Yes, we have bowlers. Batsmen we’ve also got. Wicketkeepers too (ish). But check this out: there’s no captain! That’s right. We’re sending a World Cup squad to India and we’re so crazy we don’t even know who’s going to lead them!
Reactionary old Waqar doesn’t get it. He thinks it’s preferable to have a captain than not to have a captain. He used to play a bit and he still wears a tracksuit from time to time, so he’s probably entitled to his opinion. What he’s not entitled to do is express it. You concentrate on lining up the post-nets energy drinks, W, and leave the rest to the experts. Or they might just decide to send the team to India without a coach either. Maybe Chairman Butt will do the coaching. Who’ll be laughing then, eh?
Sunday, 23rd January Only extensive hypnotherapy, blind fear or a cocktail of powerful hallucinogenic drugs can induce the English batsman to play in an attacking vein for any length of time. Andy Flower achieved the apparently impossible in the Caribbean last year, by artificially stimulating their slog glands. But since that EU ruling outlawing the use of sub-cranial electrodes, it’s back to normal for the men in shady blue. And normal means stodgy with occasional showers of recklessness.
Let me explain. In different, distinctly un-English climes, where the bounce is true and the sun shines, fledgling willow wafters grow up trusting their swing. But hereabouts, where everything is the colour of damp, grass and soil are the batsman’s natural enemies. This is the home of the wary nudge, the stifled clip, the sneaky glance and the dead bat. A classically correct drive to the cover boundary may be possible on a sunny day at Lord’s in early June. But that’s about it.
So when the England captain pledges that our chaps will continue to attack, I fear the worst. Attacking, like drinking in moderation, doesn’t come naturally to us and we tend to overdo it. Whereas our most famous military victories, like Waterloo and Agincourt, were based on the forward-defensive, when required to take the initiative we end up with the Charge of the Light Brigade: a reckless headlong attack that had very little prospect of success. Which could well be England’s World Cup motto.
Tuesday, 25th January People have some funny ideas about what a cricketer should look like. Andy Flower thinks a proper cricketer should be able to look down and see his toes. Australians seem not so bothered by the dimensions of a man’s paunch and even have no problem if he’s blond. But blond, pretty and a celebrity? That’s too much. Hence the opprobrium heaped on Michael Clarke for using Twitter when he should have been beating himself about the shoulders with birch twigs in penitence for his lack of runs.
And then there’s wannabe Indian bowling coach Fanie de Villiers, who has taken against Ishant Sharma.
“First thing I would ask him is to cut his hair short. He does not look like a cricketer to me. You need to look like a cricketer first. Batting or bowling comes after that.”
Piffle times codswallop squared. Dennis Lillee looked like an angry scarecrow with a stick-on-moustache and averaged two buttons per shirt from 1975 till 1979, whilst Bob Willis appeared to be balancing a miniature poodle on his head for most of his career. I seem to remember they did okay. Out of solidarity, every single member of the Indian bowling attack should grow their locks until they could pass for a heavy metal band. Apart from Sreesanth, obviously. That dude really needs a hair cut.
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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