World Cup 2011 February 12, 2011

Cricketers and the classics

And how South Africa are going to exit the World Cup this time
28

Tuesday, 8th February Today we learned of another well-meaning, if misguided, attempt to employ cricketers as a force for good, this time to persuade people to read more. I’m not sure this is going to work. Frankly the news that Tamim Iqbal wants to be Harry Potter is unlikely to get me popping into my local branch of Books, Books, Books to contribute to JK Rowling’s yacht fund, though it might cause me to give the chap a wide berth if I met him at a party.

Perhaps the biggest mistake of all was inviting a Mr Pietersen to get involved. As he reviewed some of the classics of the English language, he kept us up to date via Twitter. This, for example, is what he had to say about Pride and Prejudice:

“Sum woman from the old days talking s*&t about bonnets and stuff!!!!”

This was his verdict on Martin Amis’s seminal 1980s work Money:

“Blokes a muppet!!! Noes nothing about money!!! He’s not even a millionair!!!”

and this on 1984 by George Orwell:

“B*())(ks!!!! It wasn’t like that in ’84, cos I was there!!!!”

He did, though, find one classic worth recommending:

“Just finished Spot the Dog Goes to the Dentist, Brilliant! Red it in one go!!! Deff takin it to India to read on plane!!!”

Other cricket figures to have boarded the literary train were Lalit Modi, who for some reason was drawn to The Ballad of Reading Gaol by Oscar Wilde; Ijaz Butt, who recommended The Da Vinci Code as a must for fans of conspiracies; and one Bob Willis. Mr Willis was not impressed with Bob Willis’ autobiography, complaining that he found it entirely predictable, trite, riddled with cliché and that the author simply wasn’t up to international standard.

Wednesday, 9th February Jaded and exhausted, the only team ever to play a one-day series before a World Cup staggered off business class at Heathrow earlier today. It’s been a long old tour. Frankly I am jaded and exhausted from reading about how the England team are jaded and exhausted. The sheer number of self-pitying tweets, whining comments and sympathetic articles from sycophantic journalists has taken its toll. There is no other word for it. I’m jaded. And exhausted.

But I did find time to do a little post-tour research. I counted the number of articles about exhaustion and plotted them on a graph, and in the process made a remarkable discovery. There was a direct correlation between the number of one-day defeats England suffered on the one hand and the volume of material declaring that they were exhausted on the other. Interestingly the graph shows exactly the opposite slope to the one from four years ago, when articles outlining the importance of one-day cricket increased exponentially as England neared the final. And no one mentioned burnout.

Friday, 11th February As Donald Rumsfeld might put it, there are things we know we know and there are things we know we don’t know. We know, for example, that South Africa will depart the World Cup at a stage just prior to the final and that they will do so in a manner that is either inexplicable, hilarious or both. We just don’t know exactly how yet.

AB de Villiers doesn’t agree. He thinks that he and his chums are “the opposite of chokers”. The Opposite of Chokers is an excellent title for the book that will have to be written if South Africa do win. Which they won’t. My money is on a runaway elephant demolishing Billy Bowden in the semi-final and the men in sweaty green being eliminated under the new Pachyderm Intrusion Regulations.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ed on February 14, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    Love the thought of Bob Willis reviewing his own autobiography.

  • Alfred on February 13, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    So *that's* what KP gets to reading...

  • Rabies on February 13, 2011, 21:51 GMT

    Oh what a pity, I was hoping to read something vaguely intelligent and hopefully funny- not this pile of unintelligible drivel- as for your followers, good luck to the lot of you- I am however starting to wonder about the judgement of the editorial decision makers at ESPN...

  • chris on February 13, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    Hahah! The english teams burnout was pretty funny. So typical of the english press.

    As a SA fan I can see the funny side of us choking again, but the nice thing about this world cup is that most of us believe we are pretty mediocre and are unlikely to win. So for a change if we crash out it wont be as contenders. Would really make me laugh if we won it...

  • Gorakh on February 13, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    We can't ignore SA. They might be having tag of chokers, But every time they had a team to change history. We only hope, they will choke this time too.................

  • Pete on February 13, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    Retarded. I know you are trying to be funny, but this is idiotic. Nice picture by the way - a face for radio.

    I think India are going to choke this world cup. Over paid premadonnas they are. Sri Lanka is the team to watch out for.

  • Rishabh on February 13, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    Brilliant laugh-out-loud article as usual, Andrew! Even Bangladeshi fans have to agree that at his age Tamim should have outgrown reading about a teenage wizard, and talk about reading something useful that would make him a role model for others, instead of reading childish books his toddler son should be reading!!

  • kingdawg on February 13, 2011, 1:36 GMT

    andrew has lost his mind

  • Arun Job on February 13, 2011, 0:40 GMT

    The last line was the worst RACIST line over. The subcontinent has a life other than having elephants running havoc on or off the cricket pitch

  • John on February 12, 2011, 23:47 GMT

    Bad luck & stupidity have been the reason behind SA's failed attepts. This time maybe selection will be the reason? Leaving Gibbs out?? The only player who has learnt from his mistakes & has over 1000 WC runs ?????

  • Ed on February 14, 2011, 11:13 GMT

    Love the thought of Bob Willis reviewing his own autobiography.

  • Alfred on February 13, 2011, 22:16 GMT

    So *that's* what KP gets to reading...

  • Rabies on February 13, 2011, 21:51 GMT

    Oh what a pity, I was hoping to read something vaguely intelligent and hopefully funny- not this pile of unintelligible drivel- as for your followers, good luck to the lot of you- I am however starting to wonder about the judgement of the editorial decision makers at ESPN...

  • chris on February 13, 2011, 6:33 GMT

    Hahah! The english teams burnout was pretty funny. So typical of the english press.

    As a SA fan I can see the funny side of us choking again, but the nice thing about this world cup is that most of us believe we are pretty mediocre and are unlikely to win. So for a change if we crash out it wont be as contenders. Would really make me laugh if we won it...

  • Gorakh on February 13, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    We can't ignore SA. They might be having tag of chokers, But every time they had a team to change history. We only hope, they will choke this time too.................

  • Pete on February 13, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    Retarded. I know you are trying to be funny, but this is idiotic. Nice picture by the way - a face for radio.

    I think India are going to choke this world cup. Over paid premadonnas they are. Sri Lanka is the team to watch out for.

  • Rishabh on February 13, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    Brilliant laugh-out-loud article as usual, Andrew! Even Bangladeshi fans have to agree that at his age Tamim should have outgrown reading about a teenage wizard, and talk about reading something useful that would make him a role model for others, instead of reading childish books his toddler son should be reading!!

  • kingdawg on February 13, 2011, 1:36 GMT

    andrew has lost his mind

  • Arun Job on February 13, 2011, 0:40 GMT

    The last line was the worst RACIST line over. The subcontinent has a life other than having elephants running havoc on or off the cricket pitch

  • John on February 12, 2011, 23:47 GMT

    Bad luck & stupidity have been the reason behind SA's failed attepts. This time maybe selection will be the reason? Leaving Gibbs out?? The only player who has learnt from his mistakes & has over 1000 WC runs ?????

  • Anonymous on February 12, 2011, 20:13 GMT

    haha, great read!

  • Shlepper on February 12, 2011, 19:00 GMT

    Andrew your comments on SA are completely inaccurate. While SA's exit in 92,96,99,03 were all a mix of hilarious and inexplicable, 2007 was none of the above.

    It was purely pathetic. They were behind from the moment they put their jocks on in the morning, and from there on it was just trying to allow more time for Graeme Smith to get his losing captain speech ready. And it was a tough one because it was a completely new speech.

    "There is nothing inexplicable or soul destroying about this loss. We did not choke. We did not get overconfident, or misread the conditions. We just played crap from the first ball."

  • Aisha on February 12, 2011, 18:59 GMT

    Considering a team like England has made it to the most finals of a World Cup without winning, it begs the question why people think that SA are the biggest chokers?

  • RC on February 12, 2011, 18:14 GMT

    Funny how a pom mocks the South African team for not winninghte world cup, when his beloved South af... Sorry, England team have had twice as many cracks at the cup to win it.

    Not only that, but they have hosted the damn thing 4 times and still not won it, while being beating in the final 3 times.

    At the height of Australias dominating the world, it was only South Africa, that pushed them to the brink.

    Who's the Chokers now?

  • random arbiter on February 12, 2011, 16:56 GMT

    Ha ha! the last line was awesome... I wouldn't entirely count it out if the match is in Eden Gardens. SA has had SUCH a run of bad luck its ridiculous. My money's on them taking out the Indians though.

  • Raj on February 12, 2011, 16:15 GMT

    Heck, looks like there are absolutely no expectations abt SA this time. Know of any teams that went on to win the world cup when there were no expectations and no pressure? I know a couple. India in 1983 and Pakistan in 92. Having said that, I still hope India goes on to win it this time :)

  • Dinesh on February 12, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    If south africa wins then all of you should not say anything about cricket hereafter and shut your ass & mouth they are always a good team shitheads

  • nick cowley on February 12, 2011, 15:35 GMT

    Andrew, you missed another famous book/film title regarding SA's chances - 'Never Say Never'. Come to think of it, that would also apply to England in the WC....

  • Dave on February 12, 2011, 14:54 GMT

    Mr Hughes - May I suggest that you embark on that project on a book about Village Cricket because you obviously nhave no clue about International Cricket! As for Anand, the less said the better

  • Matt from SA on February 12, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    As a Saffer, I am laughing with you! LOL

  • surya on February 12, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    Brilliant!!!..Best would be the sarcastic reference to the england team's burnout!!

  • Jagmohan D on February 12, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    Good read this! And the whole world seems to know South Africa can never win the world cup!

  • Anand on February 12, 2011, 12:26 GMT

    Don't U worry Andrew, SA & OZ will be out of this cup B4 semis. Their over-confidence will kill them. OZ is no more a force they used 2 B & SA will always be chokers (Don't worry abou AB Devilliers - he is Mr. nothing - Small achievement & big mouth like every other South Afriacan) he & his team are biggest F****.

  • Sohaib on February 12, 2011, 10:37 GMT

    Extremely stupid Mr.Andrew Hughes

  • Giorgio on February 12, 2011, 10:34 GMT

    I like the cooment on South Africa being eliminated.

  • Ahmed on February 12, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    Great stuff this!makes a cheerful start to the day!Genial!

  • Saikrishnan on February 12, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    The last line is perhaps the most ridiculous and random thing I've heard in a while. Andrew for ICC President !!!

  • Haris Tanauli on February 12, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    get a grip on urself hughes..tarnishing a team's image like that may well represent ur nation's attitude and thinking towards ur rivals but its never like that..

    The one who will play well will win either its SA or any other nation.

    NOTE: Be a professional

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  • Haris Tanauli on February 12, 2011, 7:37 GMT

    get a grip on urself hughes..tarnishing a team's image like that may well represent ur nation's attitude and thinking towards ur rivals but its never like that..

    The one who will play well will win either its SA or any other nation.

    NOTE: Be a professional

  • Saikrishnan on February 12, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    The last line is perhaps the most ridiculous and random thing I've heard in a while. Andrew for ICC President !!!

  • Ahmed on February 12, 2011, 10:21 GMT

    Great stuff this!makes a cheerful start to the day!Genial!

  • Giorgio on February 12, 2011, 10:34 GMT

    I like the cooment on South Africa being eliminated.

  • Sohaib on February 12, 2011, 10:37 GMT

    Extremely stupid Mr.Andrew Hughes

  • Anand on February 12, 2011, 12:26 GMT

    Don't U worry Andrew, SA & OZ will be out of this cup B4 semis. Their over-confidence will kill them. OZ is no more a force they used 2 B & SA will always be chokers (Don't worry abou AB Devilliers - he is Mr. nothing - Small achievement & big mouth like every other South Afriacan) he & his team are biggest F****.

  • Jagmohan D on February 12, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    Good read this! And the whole world seems to know South Africa can never win the world cup!

  • surya on February 12, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    Brilliant!!!..Best would be the sarcastic reference to the england team's burnout!!

  • Matt from SA on February 12, 2011, 14:08 GMT

    As a Saffer, I am laughing with you! LOL

  • Dave on February 12, 2011, 14:54 GMT

    Mr Hughes - May I suggest that you embark on that project on a book about Village Cricket because you obviously nhave no clue about International Cricket! As for Anand, the less said the better