World Cup 2011 March 18, 2011

Capitalism and John Logie Baird nearly cost England

England’s heroic efforts to reignite the 50-over game continued with another fluctuating, stomach-rumbling, rocket-propelled donkey ride of a match, replete with all the over-the-top melodrama and emotional mood swings of a teenage disco.
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England’s heroic efforts to reignite the 50-over game continued with another fluctuating, stomach-rumbling, rocket-propelled donkey ride of a match, replete with all the over-the-top melodrama and emotional mood swings of a teenage disco.

Once again, Strauss and his men yanked Victory from the jaws of Defeat. Having seemingly wrapped Victory in a burrito and fed it to Defeat. After Defeat had vomited Victory back up onto its plate, saying, “I’m not hungry.” Which followed them teasingly putting Victory on a plastic spoon and whizzing it in and out of Defeat’s open mouth like a parent trying to amuse a baby and trick it into eating a vegetable.

England could have won all six of their group matches. They could have lost all six. They could have tied all six. So three wins, one tie and two defeats is probably a fair return. A team with mostly admirable rather than thrilling cricketers has contrived to give the cricket world one surprisingly good game, followed by five varying classics that would have had Victorian cricket fans munching through their umbrella handles like cheap hot dogs.

It is always sensible to have a scapegoat or two grazing up your sleeve that you can whip out in the event of a defeat and feed to the press as a scapegoat curry. If England had lost, their fans could have blamed injuries, fatigue, umpires, John Logie Baird for inventing television and paving the way for the third umpire to sit on their lofty Olympian perches and dispense their random justice like a drunken Greek god, and the general concept of technology.

Most of all, however, they could have blamed the evils of capitalism.

When Jonathan Trott caught Andre Russell, tumbled in indecipherably close proximity to the boundary, and was denied the catch by the TV umpire (even though, to my naked eye 80 yards away high up in the Chepauk stands, he was clearly and definitely infield by between 1.5 and 2 millimetres), it seemed that England’s hopes had vaporised. If the boundary rope had not been surrounded by the padded advertisements, but had merely been a boundary rope just as whichever god invented cricket surely intended it to be, Trott’s catch would have been verifiably legal by a good couple of centimetres.

However, thanks to the unstoppably gropey tentacles of commercialism that have wrapped their branding around any available object on any available sports ground, not only have glorious cover drives been besmirched into glib marketing opportunities, not only is the fee-paying spectator denied the timeless entertainment of seeing a ballboy prepare to field an imminent four only for the ball to ricochet up off the rope into his face, but England were almost denied their opportunity to confirm their place in the greatest eight international one-day teams in the known universe.

When the Berlin Wall came crumbled like the West Indian tail and Capitalism started showboating in the aftermath of its points victory over Communism (in which it was aided by the fact that Communism spent the entire fight standing in the corner, punching itself in the face), I doubt those revelling in the end of oppression stopped for a moment to consider how their selfish desire for freedom from totalitarian tyranny could one day almost affect the result of a very important cricket match. Such is human nature.

EXTRAS

- In my continuing, and I believe thus far successful, attempts to establish myself as the most infantile member of the cricketing press corps, I whipped out my little woolly WG Grace (that is not a euphemism) at the post-match press conference, and told Strauss that he had been watching England play for 130 years and could not remember a run of such exciting games. Strauss took one look at the knitted legend and his famous beard, and responded: “It looks like he’s lost a bit of timber.” Fine work from the England captain. WG blushed woollily, and mumbled something about having trouble with the local food.

- WG was a busy boy at the Chepauk. I fulfilled a lifelong dream during the interval, as I was invited on Test Match Special to talk to broadcasting leviathan Jonathan Agnew. I have been listening to TMS basically ever since I became a sentient being. I was more than a little excited, if disappointed that John Arlott was sadly off duty again. It also gave WG the chance to chinwag with, in ascending order of Test runs, Aggers, Vic Marks, Michael Vaughan and Geoffrey Boycott. (Pictures from the meetings on the right)

Attempting to diffuse the slight awkwardness of having asked Yorkshire and England’s Geoffrey Boycott to pose for picture with a small woolly doll, I said to him, “I think you scored more centuries than WG did.” Boycott: “I know I did. I know exactly how many more than him I scored. And I didn’t cheat as much as he did.” A legend and a hero.

- I hope you enjoy the photographs. I am reliably informed that this is the first published photograph of the Boycott holding a small woolly doll of a 19th-century megastar (rumours that he used to own a knitted miniature Florence Nightingale remain unconfirmed). While taking the photo, I thought to myself: “I am a 36-year-old father of two. I have a university degree. I have a mortgage. And I have just asked one of England’s greatest sportsmen to hold a small woolly doll for a photograph. Does this mean my life is going (a) very well, or (b) very, very badly?”

- West Indies were left with various regrets after a match in which they, like their opponents, repeatedly created, then squandered winning positions. A little more calmness at times, a little more boldness at others – taking the batting Powerplay when Sammy or Russell were in and swinging, for example ‒ could have won them the game. As could Ramnaresh Sarwan’s bowels.

Coach Ottis Gibson, asked in the post-match press conference why rookie wicketkeeper Devon Thomas had been oddly promoted above the veteran of 164 ODIs and a decade of top-level cricket, replied that Sarwan had been temporarily indisposed on a toilet break. He stopped short of revealing that, just as Thomas nervously prepared to face his first ball, Sarwan emerged with a newspaper tucked under one arm, a half-finished cryptic crossword clear for all to see, asking: “Can anyone think of an anagram of ‘oral bard’ that means ‘popular breed of dog’?” Or that he strolled casually back into the dressing room, snout down in a well-thumbed copy of Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice, excitedly squealing, “I knew they’d get together eventually.”

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

  • Faraz on March 26, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    Best cricket satirist. Ever!!! ROFL!!!

  • tweckyspat on March 22, 2011, 20:25 GMT

    Un-something-believable; an england victory underwritten by Kent's finest handful-of-tests spinner since Min Patel, and not a mention from the Grand High Zaltz-meister ??? No channeling of the Gog/Magog of Kent and England cricketers ie Martin McCague and Sir Chris (tavare) ? What does the mighty Pingu Tredwell-Laker have to do to get a mention - personnally enforce the NATO no-fly zone in Libya ?

  • Bernard Stacey on March 22, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    Andy, could you please let Al Mar (above) have his sense of humour back?

  • Anonymous on March 21, 2011, 12:15 GMT

    "Burrito" - oh man that's gold. After I read this I emailed the link to all my friends. They both loved it. Thanks!

  • mj on March 21, 2011, 10:52 GMT

    Andy - this is the first time i have read your column and boy, i have been laughing out loud...this is one of the most humourous pieces of writing i have read on sports.

    the "timeless entertainment of seeing a ballboy..." part was hilarious

  • j christ superstar on March 20, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    Brilliant! I think Sarwan has a young and vivacious lab named Shiv Chanderpaul.

  • MartinAmber on March 20, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    Al Mar - that has to be the single most po-faced comment I have ever read on cricinfo! Well done!

  • waterbuffalo on March 20, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    W.G. Grace is alive and well, the Master would have approved of Mohammed Yousuf and Hashim Amla, I wish an Indian IPL team would get these two guys together, it would be beautiful. Beautiful shots and beautiful beards and not a word said in anger.

  • praveen on March 20, 2011, 4:10 GMT

    hell....so u finally left Akmal..alone...sad though..gr8 article as always.

  • Vijay Chachra on March 20, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    Andy...O...Andy...why did you forget to enumerate the reasons why Trott was wearing a hat on THAT sultry evening in Chennai...:)...Maybe his hat tricked the umpire(s) to conclude that as a six...;-)

  • Faraz on March 26, 2011, 6:21 GMT

    Best cricket satirist. Ever!!! ROFL!!!

  • tweckyspat on March 22, 2011, 20:25 GMT

    Un-something-believable; an england victory underwritten by Kent's finest handful-of-tests spinner since Min Patel, and not a mention from the Grand High Zaltz-meister ??? No channeling of the Gog/Magog of Kent and England cricketers ie Martin McCague and Sir Chris (tavare) ? What does the mighty Pingu Tredwell-Laker have to do to get a mention - personnally enforce the NATO no-fly zone in Libya ?

  • Bernard Stacey on March 22, 2011, 7:19 GMT

    Andy, could you please let Al Mar (above) have his sense of humour back?

  • Anonymous on March 21, 2011, 12:15 GMT

    "Burrito" - oh man that's gold. After I read this I emailed the link to all my friends. They both loved it. Thanks!

  • mj on March 21, 2011, 10:52 GMT

    Andy - this is the first time i have read your column and boy, i have been laughing out loud...this is one of the most humourous pieces of writing i have read on sports.

    the "timeless entertainment of seeing a ballboy..." part was hilarious

  • j christ superstar on March 20, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    Brilliant! I think Sarwan has a young and vivacious lab named Shiv Chanderpaul.

  • MartinAmber on March 20, 2011, 11:44 GMT

    Al Mar - that has to be the single most po-faced comment I have ever read on cricinfo! Well done!

  • waterbuffalo on March 20, 2011, 5:46 GMT

    W.G. Grace is alive and well, the Master would have approved of Mohammed Yousuf and Hashim Amla, I wish an Indian IPL team would get these two guys together, it would be beautiful. Beautiful shots and beautiful beards and not a word said in anger.

  • praveen on March 20, 2011, 4:10 GMT

    hell....so u finally left Akmal..alone...sad though..gr8 article as always.

  • Vijay Chachra on March 20, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    Andy...O...Andy...why did you forget to enumerate the reasons why Trott was wearing a hat on THAT sultry evening in Chennai...:)...Maybe his hat tricked the umpire(s) to conclude that as a six...;-)

  • Gav on March 19, 2011, 19:02 GMT

    “I am a 36-year-old father of two. I have a university degree. I have a mortgage. And I have just asked one of England’s greatest sportsmen to hold a small woolly doll for a photograph. Does this mean my life is going (a) very well, or (b) very, very badly?”

    Well you had the chance, so 'A'.

  • waterbuffalo on March 19, 2011, 18:34 GMT

    Well as a Pakistani supporter, I'd rather face the windies in the QF's than England, the fighting spirit of the english scares me.

  • CricketPissek on March 19, 2011, 17:47 GMT

    Hilarious... You definitely have the best blog on for the World Cup right now. But let's see if I can compete with you from the QF onwards :P Massive Fan Andy Z!

    http://battingabovehisaverage.blogspot.com/

  • Geraint on March 19, 2011, 17:22 GMT

    After a visit to the TMS commentary box I think the answer to your pondering is most definitely (A). Great stuff, keep it coming.

  • ahamed on March 19, 2011, 17:07 GMT

    Your tweeting and blogs are brilliant! Thank you.

  • Milind Jadhav on March 19, 2011, 17:05 GMT

    Andy, Cant get over the rocket-propelled donkey ride of a match!

  • KJ on March 19, 2011, 16:53 GMT

    quite funny! thank you andy I'm going to come back for more!

  • Al Mar on March 19, 2011, 16:49 GMT

    Zaltzman seem to forget he works for money. Its called thanklessness to blame who has been feeding you. Capitalism defeated British mercantilism and colonialism. Its what is putting money in Zaltzman's pocket. Its what liberated countries like India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh from the control of colonial cronyism. If not for the money these grounds will be dirt-mound with a few hoity-toity idealists - Lacrosse, anyone? And Zaltzman would probably be reporting NBA to make money. I love Capitalism. I love the fact that Indian economy is sponsoring world cricket and entertaining the cricket loving people. Its fair to ask haters and nay-Sayers to change the channel and mindset or at least not to write a critical report and expect to get paid (or even read).

  • Sohail Ahmed on March 19, 2011, 16:42 GMT

    u r blaming Capitalism is a humor

  • James on March 19, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    Hi Andy. Really enjoying your contributions this world cup. And so is my labrador, named Chewin' Chatfield.

  • pravin on March 19, 2011, 15:43 GMT

    brilliant blog, just stunning.

  • Local_pettai on March 19, 2011, 12:36 GMT

    Hi Andy, That metaphor for english performance sums up not only the west indies match but the whole of their world cup.... I guess a bit too vivid metaphor for blow-hot-blow-cold ..... Anyways the entire article was great as usual...Nice ... keep the work coming... BTW hows chennai been treating you ... hope you have a good time... the local cusine would be more suited to the western palate..but sadly the weather is not... Enjoy your stay..

  • David Kendix on March 19, 2011, 11:01 GMT

    England will be congratulating themselves on their mastery of the Super 8s regulations, whereby teams take through to the second phase of the World Cup only those points earned against other qualifiers from their group (in England’s case 5 points out of 6 against West Indies, South Africa and India). Would it be cruel to point out to them that this regulation has since been abolished in order to allow the tournament to rush to its unseemly rapid conclusion?

  • PieterSA on March 19, 2011, 10:37 GMT

    Andy, it is inevitable that you will be on the Queen's next honours list! First of all to have the courage and/or audacity to ask Sir Geoffrey to pose for the photo AND then him falling for your charm and charismatic touch to actually pose for it. Brilliant touch and approach in all your blogs. I enjoy every word and subtlety in meaning.

  • Fahmim on March 19, 2011, 9:35 GMT

    Good one, AZ! Looking forward to meeting you sometime between the 22nd and 26th at Dhaka!! Check you email :D !!!

  • BERNOIDAL on March 19, 2011, 9:02 GMT

    "rocket-propelled donkey ride"

    It's your little paradoxes that I love the most, Andy. Write a book, mate. Unless you have already.

  • Tony Hancock on March 19, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    Excellent stuff! More podcasts please. Love your work!

  • Sanjay Chowdhary on March 19, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    You put wits and sarcasm so beautifully! Please tweet a bit of Indian history too. An Indo-Pak super clash could still be a possibility.

  • blitz on March 19, 2011, 7:22 GMT

    hi Andy..... This is the best article, i have read ever since the cwc begun. You have said it.Absolute Truth...

  • pashtungracelover on March 19, 2011, 5:26 GMT

    masterful. now if only we could teach the indians what humour is!

  • Sudeep on March 19, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    Hi Andy, I have been reading your blog 4 a long time even before your epic adventure in India(you are like Achilles at Troy). You are absolutely brilliant but todays blog was not one of your best moments. It was not bad but you have raised the bar so high with some of your previous blogs(like Sachin getting a 100 is not good enough anymore). I have told all my friends about your blog and most of them love it Hope your adventure in India ends better than Achilles at Troy.

  • Aaron on March 19, 2011, 4:36 GMT

    haha... Say hello to my wooly little friend :)

  • Anonymous on March 19, 2011, 4:12 GMT

    The answer is a) very well. Wait! What was the question?

  • ragu on March 19, 2011, 2:45 GMT

    The answer to the anagram is also a sea current of the Northern coast of Canada and has occupants that cause chills to course throughout your body though not as much as England's performances in the tournament thus far.

  • ragu on March 19, 2011, 2:35 GMT

    Andy is the anagram a single word or two words?

  • litmus on March 19, 2011, 1:32 GMT

    Andy,

    Did you attempt to "defuse" the awkwardness with Boycott or did you really try to "diffuse" it? The latter would be, ahem, singularly graceless. Google "Commonly confused words: diffuse or defuse?"

  • Golax on March 19, 2011, 0:50 GMT

    Ram...really. Labrador! Now go bat.

  • Kerr on March 19, 2011, 0:39 GMT

    Who wouldn't want a cuddly Florence Nightingale? She was hot.

  • Arun on March 18, 2011, 23:55 GMT

    1.5 to 2mm nice! Suraj obviously not familiar with the english language...

  • Raja on March 18, 2011, 23:51 GMT

    Andy, I wish you would do a scathing piece on the millions of idiots over here who persist in typing in text and L33t speech in the comments section. My eyes bleed looking at the posts of 'dem' idiots.

  • Anonymous on March 18, 2011, 22:41 GMT

    Classic...

    "Having seemingly wrapped Victory in a burrito and fed it to Defeat. After Defeat had vomited Victory back up onto its plate, saying, “I’m not hungry.” Which followed them teasingly putting Victory on a plastic spoon and whizzing it in and out of Defeat’s open mouth like a parent trying to amuse a baby and trick it into eating a vegetable."

  • Sam on March 18, 2011, 22:14 GMT

    "not only is the fee-paying spectator denied the timeless entertainment of seeing a ballboy prepare to field an imminent four only for the ball to ricochet up off the rope into his face..."

    Haha that is so true. The good old days...

    Love your articles Andy, your blog is the first thing I check when I come onto CricInfo.

  • Kyle on March 18, 2011, 21:59 GMT

    "I doubt those revelling in the end of oppression stopped for a moment to consider how their selfish desire for freedom from totalitarian tyranny could one day almost affect the result of a very important cricket match. Such is human nature""

    Absolutely classic!!! I haven't laughed so hard for a long time. Let's hope there are more brilliant cricket matches to provide you with opportunities to keep us entertained. And let us not hope for matches like Kenya vs Zimbabwe to provide that?!?! What a cracker that will be....

  • Anonymous on March 18, 2011, 21:54 GMT

    “It looks like he’s lost a bit of timber.” -- very well done indeed!

  • hemant on March 18, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    Euphemism aside, this piece sent me down the memory lane, when I was 17, my Indian English Book had a chapter by Neville Cardus. I am not sure if the title of the chapter was "Spirit Of Cricket" but it very well could be. It was probably the most magical prose I had ever read, delivered by a very passionate cricket fan who was also our English teacher. This writing introduced W.G Grace to our class in a room filled with less than six people in a small, dusty sleepy classroom of a remote Indian town on a hot summer afternoon in 1990. That one hour was pure bliss.

    I faintly remember the piece being about cricket on a crisp summer morning with dew on the blades of grass and the sweet sound of the willow striking the leather echoing lyrically... or something along those lines. I need to search for this book again. Thanks for the piece, I am reliving good cricket writing after 20 years. We pass beauty in our search for mundane existence.

  • Paresh bhandarkar on March 18, 2011, 21:40 GMT

    Loved the article... loved the concept that team England has started snatching victory not from the jaws but from the stomoch of opponents

  • Anonymous on March 18, 2011, 21:00 GMT

    Wow! This was indeed the best piece Zaltsy has written so far!!

    LMAO1 - defeat vomited victory back saying "not hungry" LMAO2 - england could have tied all 6 games LMAO3 - my little woolly WG (not an euphemism!) LMAO... - who the heck cares!!!

    Keep em coming. Zaltsy for UK PM!

  • Vaidya on March 18, 2011, 20:54 GMT

    Labrador! Eureka!

  • Abe on March 18, 2011, 20:24 GMT

    nice....'I whipped out my little woolly WG Grace (that is not a euphemism)' hahahahah

  • gonnesinga on March 18, 2011, 19:40 GMT

    QWAATLE maga neenu...... Yen barithiya guru. English Jana Levellu siva

  • Suraj Reddy on March 18, 2011, 19:19 GMT

    Hi Andy...

    I read all your posts.. evrything was very fine, humorous, interesting....

    This is the most borig devoid of any humour...

    Plz make dem humorous....

  • Mike Dewis on March 18, 2011, 19:11 GMT

    Andy, you are making this world cup for me. Yes, you are even more exciting than England! Your tweeting and blogs are brilliant! Thank you.

  • Mike Dewis on March 18, 2011, 19:11 GMT

    Andy, you are making this world cup for me. Yes, you are even more exciting than England! Your tweeting and blogs are brilliant! Thank you.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Mike Dewis on March 18, 2011, 19:11 GMT

    Andy, you are making this world cup for me. Yes, you are even more exciting than England! Your tweeting and blogs are brilliant! Thank you.

  • Mike Dewis on March 18, 2011, 19:11 GMT

    Andy, you are making this world cup for me. Yes, you are even more exciting than England! Your tweeting and blogs are brilliant! Thank you.

  • Suraj Reddy on March 18, 2011, 19:19 GMT

    Hi Andy...

    I read all your posts.. evrything was very fine, humorous, interesting....

    This is the most borig devoid of any humour...

    Plz make dem humorous....

  • gonnesinga on March 18, 2011, 19:40 GMT

    QWAATLE maga neenu...... Yen barithiya guru. English Jana Levellu siva

  • Abe on March 18, 2011, 20:24 GMT

    nice....'I whipped out my little woolly WG Grace (that is not a euphemism)' hahahahah

  • Vaidya on March 18, 2011, 20:54 GMT

    Labrador! Eureka!

  • Anonymous on March 18, 2011, 21:00 GMT

    Wow! This was indeed the best piece Zaltsy has written so far!!

    LMAO1 - defeat vomited victory back saying "not hungry" LMAO2 - england could have tied all 6 games LMAO3 - my little woolly WG (not an euphemism!) LMAO... - who the heck cares!!!

    Keep em coming. Zaltsy for UK PM!

  • Paresh bhandarkar on March 18, 2011, 21:40 GMT

    Loved the article... loved the concept that team England has started snatching victory not from the jaws but from the stomoch of opponents

  • hemant on March 18, 2011, 21:50 GMT

    Euphemism aside, this piece sent me down the memory lane, when I was 17, my Indian English Book had a chapter by Neville Cardus. I am not sure if the title of the chapter was "Spirit Of Cricket" but it very well could be. It was probably the most magical prose I had ever read, delivered by a very passionate cricket fan who was also our English teacher. This writing introduced W.G Grace to our class in a room filled with less than six people in a small, dusty sleepy classroom of a remote Indian town on a hot summer afternoon in 1990. That one hour was pure bliss.

    I faintly remember the piece being about cricket on a crisp summer morning with dew on the blades of grass and the sweet sound of the willow striking the leather echoing lyrically... or something along those lines. I need to search for this book again. Thanks for the piece, I am reliving good cricket writing after 20 years. We pass beauty in our search for mundane existence.

  • Anonymous on March 18, 2011, 21:54 GMT

    “It looks like he’s lost a bit of timber.” -- very well done indeed!