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Today’s blog consists of the first batch of responses to the Ask Andy questions that you, the reader, have submitted. I have endeavoured to answer them as honestly and truthfully as possible.
Hi Andy. Please can you find out what Kamran Akmal constantly chirps through the game? Could he just get a T-shirt printed? Kicker of Elves, UK
I have made extensive enquiries through my network of sources throughout international cricket, and there is some disagreement over exactly what Kamran is chirping. Some believe it to be a dictation of the latest chapters of his epic autobiographical novel, The Wicketkeeper Who Came In From The Cold. Some literary critics have accused him of being “far too easily influenced by British spy writer John le Carré”, but Kamran finds it easier to write whilst wicket-keeping, then he goes home, watches the TV coverage of the day’s play, and transcribes the latest thrilling plot twists onto his typewriter.
Others are convinced it is his own translation of the works of 1970s rock group Supertramp, whose songs he believes contain coded words of advice and encouragement for spin bowlers which he is only too keen to relay. Former Pakistan Test player Mansoor Akhtar is alone in thinking that Kamran’s chirps, when played backwards, contain a savage assessment of the actions of the World Bank in failing to alleviate global poverty.
Personally, I believe his chirps to be just that – chirps. Kamran is attempting to summon a bird of prey, in the hope that it will fly behind the bowler’s arm at the moment of delivery, distracting the batsman and resulting in a wicket for his beloved Pakistan.
On the subject of wicketkeepers wearing T-shirts as a sledge-saving device, this has been done. Former Australian gloveman, Tim Zoehrer, found the practicalities of sledging tiresome, so wore a shirt bearing the slogan ‘Batsman, you’re rubbish and your wife is up to no good’. And ex-Kiwi stumspter Warren Lees was known to carry a ghetto blaster onto the pitch, place it behind him, and play pre-recorded sledges recorded for him by the New Zealand Institute Of Personal Insults. Lees explained: “I was never very good at thinking of good sledges whilst ’keeping. It worked fine until I let a Martin Snedden dobber slip through my gloves, and it smashed into the ghetto blaster, conceded 5 runs and left the machine permanently tuned in to an Albanian radio station.”
Is it good if a team-mate makes a comment like 'we want to win for 'Murali' or 'Sachin' or any other great player who is supposedly playing his last World Cup? Akash Verma, India
There is nothing wrong with this. Most of the time. Money has never, ever been a motivating factor for any cricketer, because the game is a bastion of moral purity, so players may find that the best way to ensure optimum performance is by pre-dedicating a tournament win to a cricketing legend, a friend, or a team-mate whose autograph they have always wanted.
However, such comments should arouse suspicion in the following circumstances:
1. If the great player cited is from an opposing team. If, for example, Hansie Cronje had said: “We want to win this World Cup for Salim Malik,” alarm bells would have rightly twanged.
2. If the played cited is under the age of 28, with a reputation for unpopularity. If a team-mate were to say, “This is definitely going to be X’s last World Cup, so we want to make sure he goes out on a high,” and X is a still-promising but conversationally abrasive 23-year-old, it could be construed as a threat.
3. If there is a suspicion that the player who says he wants to ‘win it for Sachin’ is merely replacing the words ‘money, fame and glory’ with the word ‘Sachin’, and has been told that, if he helps his team to victory, he will be given Sachin Tendulkar as a prize, to take home and keep. The offering of human prizes is explicitly prohibited under ICC regulations, and has been ever since Allan Border marched off from the 1987 final with Mike Veletta in his cricket bag, claiming that the young batsman was now his personal slave.
If Oliver Cromwell had had his way in history, how would that have affected the game of cricket as we see it today? AndrewStraussZaltzman
Congratulations on two counts: firstly, for having a name that pays tribute to two of the finest left-handed opening batsmen English cricket has produced in the last 40 years; and secondly, for posing a very interesting question.
Cromwell was renowned not merely for splitting opinion like a banana, but for covering it with ice cream, spraying whipped cream all over it, and plonking a glacé cherry on top. He was also renowned in his time for consistently finishing in last place in the British Party Animal Of The Year awards. He preferred to be a joyless, grinding dirge. So it is fair to assume that a cricketer such as Virender Sehwag would have made Cromwell’s trademark wart burst off his face in disgust. And it is also fair to assume that he would have had signed action photographs of Gary Kirsten batting plastered all over his bedroom wall.
Please refer to an old blog I wrote some time ago in which I selected my World’s Dullest Test XI (part 1 here, part 2 here). The selected players are probably the only cricketers who would have been legally allowed to exist if Cromwell ruled the world.
I think the Irish are onto something. Do you have the figures on world cup batting averages and strike-rates broken down by hair colour? Roger Nash
Sadly, ESPNcricinfo’s otherwise flawless Statsguru is unable to provide this information. (Amongst the marginal statistics it can calculate are: bowling averages for left-arm-spinners who believe in Father Christmas; number of catches taken by fielders who were humming a Ricky Martin song during the bowler’s run-up; and averages of batsmen during innings in which they were thinking about another player’s wife.)
One famous instance from cricketing history in which a player excelled having dyed his hair was Wally Hammond’s famous 240 against Australia at Lord’s in 1938, when the great batsman had dyed his hair green in an effort to impress film actress Marlene Dietrich, whom he thought might come to the game (the dye does not show up in the black-and-white photographs of the game; Dietrich went to watch a county match at Derby instead).
Andy - Following the book signing and the Cricinfo blogs are you becoming a proper cricket celebrity in India? James Waller
Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writerFeeds: Andy Zaltzman
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Andy Zaltzman was born in obscurity in 1974. He has been a sporadically-acclaimed stand-up comedian since 1999, and has appeared regularly on BBC Radio 4. He is currently one half of TimesOnline's hit satirical podcast The Bugle, alongside John Oliver. Zaltzman's love of cricket outshone his aptitude for the game by a humiliating margin. He once scored 6 in 75 minutes in an Under-15 match, and failed to hit a six between the ages of 9 and 23. He would have been ideally suited to Tests, had not a congenital defect left him unable to play the game to anything above genuine village standard. He writes the Confectionery Stall blog on Cricinfo.