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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.
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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