England March 17, 2011

Ball-dunking and grudge-dredging

Andy Zaltzman lies about the World Cup
42

I arrived in Chennai this morning, ready to see England re-begin their World Cup campaign again, after a 24-hour journey from Colombo. You may well think that 24 hours is a long time to take over what most people manage in an 80-minute flight. And you would have a point. But I am an Englishman at the 2011 World Cup. I decided to take an unnecessarily convoluted route because I thought it would be more interesting – exactly as my nation’s cricket team has done through the group stage of the tournament. They could easily have won all five of their matches to date, but they chose to entertain the cricket-watching universe instead.

It should be another fascinating match against intermittently explosive opponents, and if they win, they will begin the knockout stages buoyed by the knowledge that only they and Australia remain unbeaten by top-eight ranked opponents in this tournament. England are amongst the best prepared outfits in sport – this must all be part of a scientifically-generated masterplan. All it will need is a few potent shots of espresso before matches to ensure they are battle-hardened rather than battle-weary. And some luck with the physics of rotating coins and gravity.

WORLD CUP LIES

- In order to negate the unfairness of the dew factor in day-night games, during all future matches in this tournament, the bowler will be forced to dip the ball in a bowl of water before each delivery. ICC big cheese Haroon Lorgat explained: “We want it to be the same for both sides, and, after our lawyers failed to persuade the dew to keep itself to itself, we were left with no choice but compulsory ball-dunking. It will be the fielding captain’s decision whether to use still or sparkling water."

- Andrew Strauss has sought to motivate his flagging players by urging them to use the Chennai showdown with West Indies “to avenge the wrongs England suffered at the Battle of Hastings in 1066”. The England skipper explained: “I know the West Indies are not, technically speaking, Normans, but if you don’t tell the boys that, I won’t either. It helps to have a historical grudge in top-level sport. For whatever reason, buried deep in the murky depths of history, we are usually the victims of grudge power. We just want a level playing field. Sadly, Germany and France keep avoiding us on the cricket field, so we have to be a bit creative.”

EXTRAS

- Shoaib Akhtar has finally, reluctantly, given up his heroic tussle with the unstoppable march of time and announced his impending retirement. Cricket will be a less interesting place without him, a throwback paceman devoted to maximum velocity, a seeming force of nature in an era of biomechanical precision. With almost 450 international wickets at an average of 25 in an age of batting dominance, he cannot be said to have failed. At his sporadic best, however, he occasionally equalled anything cricket has seen, and leaves the game having obliterated Ponting and both Waugh in one over of unmatchable brilliance, and having been clumped for 26 in another over of schoolboy ineptitude in Pallekele last week. Very few cricketers could have managed the first. Millions could have achieved the second. Perhaps only Shoaib could have done both.

- The highlight of my unnecessary but enjoyable train journey was, as we chugged through Kerala, seeing through the window a snippet of cricket in a woodland clearing in which a young teenage boy played the finest on-drive I have seen in this entire World Cup. He leant into the ball, he whipped his wrists, the ball sped away towards the hypothetical boundary as if from the bat of a laboratory-engineered hybrid of Peter May and Dilip Vengsarkar. However, a few miles further down the line, the next ball I saw involved a rather unathletic child attempting to bowl left-arm spin with an action so atrociously awkward that it made Paul Harris look like Bishen Bedi. Promising and worrying signs for the future of Indian cricket.

- My daughter, who likes to please, came up to me a couple of days ago, and said: “Daddy, I really love cricket.” I swelled with pride – “I may have my practical, organisational and logistical flaws as a parent,” I said to my vigorously nodding wife, “but clearly, I am doing the most important part well.” I turned back to my daughter. “That’s great, sweetie,” I replied, giving her a well-deserved cuddle. “And who is your favourite cricketer?” I asked. She pondered for a few seconds, perhaps weighing up the relative merits of Bradman, Sobers, Hobbs, Tendulkar, Kamran Akmal and Tavare. “Daddy, my favourite cricketer is Roger Federer.” Evidently, I still have some difficult parenting work ahead of me.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Cricket Lover on March 21, 2011, 21:08 GMT

    Oh boy! Kamran Akmal in the list is the best comedy of this century! you made my day...keep up the good work...

  • southieCricket on March 18, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    very funny!! one question though. Why do everyone say that England could easily have won all five of their matches? They could have lost all the mathes they won/tied.

  • Fouad Chaudhry on March 18, 2011, 19:07 GMT

    Well said about Shoaib. My favourite moment was when he bowled Dravid and Tendulakar in successive balls to silence the crowd in Calcutta.

  • soumyas on March 18, 2011, 18:54 GMT

    @JP, COMMON, if u understand the sarcasm thats enough, dont read between letters,words. anyways gr8 article with gr8 humor.... hats off to sour. salt man...!!!

  • Andy Zaltzman's Soulmate, he just doesn't know it yet on March 18, 2011, 16:13 GMT

    Christ you're brilliant, i want to have your babies. Don't tell the wife. Yours that is, i'm single and available hint hint hint. I've a fetish for 3 stooges lookalikes who are actually funny. you're that. the cricket helps too

  • RadioNed on March 18, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    Great writing, Andy! (even to this cricket novice) Here's to more excitement in the knockout round. Cheers!

  • Milind Jadhav on March 18, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    Andy the Bandy, LOL...you are stark raving mad...keep it coming man!

  • Vladimir Lem on March 18, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    I asked. She pondered for a few seconds, perhaps weighing up the relative merits of Bradman, Sobers, Hobbs, Tendulkar, Kamran Akmal and Tavare. “Daddy, my favourite cricketer is Roger Federer.” Evidently, I still have some difficult parenting work ahead of me.

    lolz made my day :D

  • Raza on March 18, 2011, 8:45 GMT

    I really need you advise on this.

    What do you do when a hero leaves the game?

    I mean i just cannot stand the fact that i will not see shoiab akhtar again running in.

    Youtube just does not have the surprise element...

    what will i tell my kids...and will they believe the story?

  • Manoj Kumar on March 18, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    Brilliant Mr. Zatzman! You are an absolute peach to read in the litany of prosaic cricket sports writers. Pls do Keep writing. You do crack me up!

  • Cricket Lover on March 21, 2011, 21:08 GMT

    Oh boy! Kamran Akmal in the list is the best comedy of this century! you made my day...keep up the good work...

  • southieCricket on March 18, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    very funny!! one question though. Why do everyone say that England could easily have won all five of their matches? They could have lost all the mathes they won/tied.

  • Fouad Chaudhry on March 18, 2011, 19:07 GMT

    Well said about Shoaib. My favourite moment was when he bowled Dravid and Tendulakar in successive balls to silence the crowd in Calcutta.

  • soumyas on March 18, 2011, 18:54 GMT

    @JP, COMMON, if u understand the sarcasm thats enough, dont read between letters,words. anyways gr8 article with gr8 humor.... hats off to sour. salt man...!!!

  • Andy Zaltzman's Soulmate, he just doesn't know it yet on March 18, 2011, 16:13 GMT

    Christ you're brilliant, i want to have your babies. Don't tell the wife. Yours that is, i'm single and available hint hint hint. I've a fetish for 3 stooges lookalikes who are actually funny. you're that. the cricket helps too

  • RadioNed on March 18, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    Great writing, Andy! (even to this cricket novice) Here's to more excitement in the knockout round. Cheers!

  • Milind Jadhav on March 18, 2011, 12:07 GMT

    Andy the Bandy, LOL...you are stark raving mad...keep it coming man!

  • Vladimir Lem on March 18, 2011, 11:37 GMT

    I asked. She pondered for a few seconds, perhaps weighing up the relative merits of Bradman, Sobers, Hobbs, Tendulkar, Kamran Akmal and Tavare. “Daddy, my favourite cricketer is Roger Federer.” Evidently, I still have some difficult parenting work ahead of me.

    lolz made my day :D

  • Raza on March 18, 2011, 8:45 GMT

    I really need you advise on this.

    What do you do when a hero leaves the game?

    I mean i just cannot stand the fact that i will not see shoiab akhtar again running in.

    Youtube just does not have the surprise element...

    what will i tell my kids...and will they believe the story?

  • Manoj Kumar on March 18, 2011, 6:53 GMT

    Brilliant Mr. Zatzman! You are an absolute peach to read in the litany of prosaic cricket sports writers. Pls do Keep writing. You do crack me up!

  • Rohan on March 18, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    She must have meant Dhoni when she said Federer.

  • Richie George on March 18, 2011, 5:59 GMT

    quite funny mate.. kamran akmal as fav cricketer.. classic!!!

  • SWAGAT on March 18, 2011, 5:49 GMT

    Andy, Your Daughter Seems On Way To Beat You.... Funny Girl!!?!

  • sudhir on March 18, 2011, 4:58 GMT

    you force everyone to be your fan through your articles,,,,and i am one of them...great piece andy!!!!

  • Sam on March 18, 2011, 4:23 GMT

    It's hilariious "Very few cricketers could have managed the first. Millions could have achieved the second. Perhaps only Shoaib could have done both."

    I liked it man, very, very witty. Great piece.

  • Roste on March 18, 2011, 2:39 GMT

    Good news. According to Dr. Love Andy's son has a 67% chance to love cricket.

    Dr. Love thinks that a relationship between H. Zaltzman and cricket has a reasonable chance of working out, but on the other hand, it might not. Their relationship may suffer good and bad times. If things might not be working out as you would like them to, do not hesitate to talk about it with the person involved. Spend time together, talk with each other.

  • Sanjay N on March 17, 2011, 22:17 GMT

    Andy, great to hear you on TMS during the Eng-WI break. Moreimportantly, I can't wait to see you live on May 5th at MAC, Birmingham. Keep up the hilarity and enjoy the remainder of the WC. Wish I was there!

  • CricFan2011 on March 17, 2011, 21:47 GMT

    Well, if ICC starts using tap water during the day time Mr. Swann will come forward after a loss and say that “the ball is tempered as it is infested with Giardia in this part of the world and is doing wonders hence benefiting the opposing team” May be ICC should consult with him first before making “dipping ball in water” official – if he do not agree then ICC should find an alternative to provide a level plain field to the poor guy. The guy’s opinion is crucial for the future of this game at least in this part of the world.

  • Deepesh on March 17, 2011, 20:15 GMT

    Funny Stuff!!! Federer is a Cricketer!!!!

  • Deep Cower on March 17, 2011, 19:24 GMT

    The most heart-warming aspect of your cricket blog/travel journal is how you genuinely seem to enjoy your stay in the sub-continent, instead of mindlessly dwelling on cliches about upset tummy caused by a suspect curry. I wish you and your family a pleasant stay, and many more such wonderful journeys ahead.

  • KT on March 17, 2011, 18:03 GMT

    I think your dougter watched too much street cricket/ backyard cricket/ paddyfields cricket and beach cricket in Sri Lanka. Everybody here plays cricket with rennis balls, no surprise your doughter thougt "Roger Federer" being a cricketer.

  • Amit on March 17, 2011, 17:31 GMT

    Amazing , a great stuff .

  • Simon B on March 17, 2011, 17:23 GMT

    .....wwwwwwWWWWWWWWWWOT a day it's been in sport!

    Crikey, cor blimey madam, flippin' blinkin' mother-bothering Boycott on a bike - that was nail-biting match and no mistake! My fingers have been nibbled to tiny stumps.*

    *am happy to offer myself as a replacement for Akmal.

  • Bamarolls on March 17, 2011, 17:23 GMT

    Andy, BRILLIANT! One modification to your ball dunking idea will make it brillianter - dunk the ball in Molten Butter: It will eliminate the dew problem; every one will know how it feels to be butterfingered like Kamran Akmal; will promote Swann songs with the umpires on the field. Now why did I not think of that?

  • Karthik on March 17, 2011, 16:54 GMT

    'the future of indian cricket is uncertain'. very true especially the way they crumbled after the dismissal of sachin. i wonder if india will find replacements for sachin, laxman or dravid.

    yet another hilarious article Andy! and the tweets are even better! keep it coming!

  • Sumant Bhalla on March 17, 2011, 15:31 GMT

    Your daughter, God Bless her, I'd be willing to bet she could keep wickets better than Kamran Akmal.

  • praveen on March 17, 2011, 15:15 GMT

    come on something more on Akmal....plllllllllllllllzzzz beggin u...

  • Steve on March 17, 2011, 13:23 GMT

    Chris Tavare - He may not have batted like a cavalier but he sure did look like one. He also was my all-time run leader in Owzat surely that has some relevance in this world where computers attempt to destroy imagination!

  • ibrahim on March 17, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    First of all... Respect to Shoaib, he will be remembered as Jim Morrison of Cricket. Secondly, I have a question for you. What is your take on anger of Pakistani fans over England stealing their secret recipe of unpredictability. They are furious over England performing like erratic, buoyant and mercurial Pakistan and Pakistani performing like unamusing England. This was supposed to be our (Pakistani) act in the play, right?

  • njr1330 on March 17, 2011, 12:05 GMT

    Andy,

    There must be something in the sub-continental air - recent posts have been back to the exalted levels of the past.

    P.S. what did you think of my Vatican City XI ?

  • smash on March 17, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    Do enjoy reading your very funny articles..do keep them coming!

  • Shahzad Malik on March 17, 2011, 11:00 GMT

    perhaps weighing up the relative merits of Bradman, Sobers, Hobbs, Tendulkar, "Kamran Akmal" and Tavare...

    Time for another Akmal joke ......... nah ... I should just drop the idea

  • hero_worshipper on March 17, 2011, 10:10 GMT

    Shoaib's best moment was definitely getting Dravid and sachin out in succesively deliveries at Kolkata.

  • kamran zaltzman on March 17, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    "She pondered for a few seconds, perhaps weighing up the relative merits of Bradman, Sobers, Hobbs, Tendulkar, Kamran Akmal and Tavare"

    You just wont leave Kamran Akmal, alone, will u!!!!

    More akmal jokes please!!!

  • JII on March 17, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Belated welcome to Kerala, (a goodbye would've been more appropriate, I think), my home state. Let me try to guess this. Colombo-Trivandrum-Chennai? Is that what you did? Or Colombo-Cochin-Chennai?

  • avinash on March 17, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    hahha...bradman,sobers,hobbs and AKMAL.............U are a funny guy andy....

  • Umar on March 17, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    Well done sir, i laughed couple of times going through your article. I'll be looking for more.

  • tharanga on March 17, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    hey i saw ur little boy eaten a crocadile bun in pallekelle

  • Sebi on March 17, 2011, 8:39 GMT

    Clearly you have lots of parenting duties to perform--your daughter's just a mirror of it. Piece is good ,i love it---and why won't ICC not consider the crows as well which participated as the 12th-man erstwhile eating on all the green hoppers in the oval, Chennai was it?

  • Debojit on March 17, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    Well, Mr. Zaltzman, please dont be so disheartened... given the fact that the most productive shots this world cup have been the reverse sweep (akin to a backhand) and a flat batted swat to mid-wicket (a very beautiful forehand), you must give your daughter the benefit of the doubt while she distinguishes between the two sports.. Also, whatever said and done, Roger Federer is surely a more pleaseing sight to the eyes than the likes of Chris Gayle, a gum-chewing-spit-spewing Ponting, and Kamran Akmal (i.e. when he is actually keeping and not hiding behind his mitts)

  • JP on March 17, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    "...remain unbeaten by top-eight ranked opponents in this tournament." Well, you got this wrong Andy! Bangladesh are ranked ahead of WI at the start of this tournament.

  • Sharif Ahmed on March 17, 2011, 8:01 GMT

    Oh ! My God! You are so funny.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Sharif Ahmed on March 17, 2011, 8:01 GMT

    Oh ! My God! You are so funny.

  • JP on March 17, 2011, 8:18 GMT

    "...remain unbeaten by top-eight ranked opponents in this tournament." Well, you got this wrong Andy! Bangladesh are ranked ahead of WI at the start of this tournament.

  • Debojit on March 17, 2011, 8:21 GMT

    Well, Mr. Zaltzman, please dont be so disheartened... given the fact that the most productive shots this world cup have been the reverse sweep (akin to a backhand) and a flat batted swat to mid-wicket (a very beautiful forehand), you must give your daughter the benefit of the doubt while she distinguishes between the two sports.. Also, whatever said and done, Roger Federer is surely a more pleaseing sight to the eyes than the likes of Chris Gayle, a gum-chewing-spit-spewing Ponting, and Kamran Akmal (i.e. when he is actually keeping and not hiding behind his mitts)

  • Sebi on March 17, 2011, 8:39 GMT

    Clearly you have lots of parenting duties to perform--your daughter's just a mirror of it. Piece is good ,i love it---and why won't ICC not consider the crows as well which participated as the 12th-man erstwhile eating on all the green hoppers in the oval, Chennai was it?

  • tharanga on March 17, 2011, 8:40 GMT

    hey i saw ur little boy eaten a crocadile bun in pallekelle

  • Umar on March 17, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    Well done sir, i laughed couple of times going through your article. I'll be looking for more.

  • avinash on March 17, 2011, 9:09 GMT

    hahha...bradman,sobers,hobbs and AKMAL.............U are a funny guy andy....

  • JII on March 17, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    Belated welcome to Kerala, (a goodbye would've been more appropriate, I think), my home state. Let me try to guess this. Colombo-Trivandrum-Chennai? Is that what you did? Or Colombo-Cochin-Chennai?

  • kamran zaltzman on March 17, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    "She pondered for a few seconds, perhaps weighing up the relative merits of Bradman, Sobers, Hobbs, Tendulkar, Kamran Akmal and Tavare"

    You just wont leave Kamran Akmal, alone, will u!!!!

    More akmal jokes please!!!

  • hero_worshipper on March 17, 2011, 10:10 GMT

    Shoaib's best moment was definitely getting Dravid and sachin out in succesively deliveries at Kolkata.