February 12, 2011

World Cup 2011

Cricketers and the classics

Andrew Hughes
The Australian prime minister Julia Gillard welcomes Kevin Pietersen to a cricket luncheon at Kirribilli house, Sydney, January 1, 2011
"Er no, Kevin, she's not the lady who wrote about the witches and goblins"  © Getty Images


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

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Posted by Ed on (February 14, 2011, 11:13 GMT)

Love the thought of Bob Willis reviewing his own autobiography.

Posted by Alfred on (February 13, 2011, 22:16 GMT)

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

Posted by 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...

Posted by 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...

Posted by 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.................

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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!!

Posted by kingdawg on (February 13, 2011, 1:36 GMT)

andrew has lost his mind

Posted by 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

Posted by 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 ?????

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Andrew Hughes
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

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