World Cup 2011 March 28, 2011

The mother-in-law of all spankings

Thirty-six hours have passed since England were unceremoniously plonked in a box, wrapped in a ribbon and posted back home, first-class
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Thirty-six hours have passed since England were unceremoniously plonked in a box, wrapped in a ribbon and posted back home, first-class. After their dramatic roller-coaster ride through the group stage, many had thought that England were destined to go all the way to glory. Unfortunately, due to a contractual dispute over working conditions and image rights, Destiny walked out on a one-day strike in Colombo on Saturday.

Reality was called in as a temp to cover for Destiny, and England, after winning three and losing two of their group matches by the finest of margins, and tying the other one by no margin at all, were given the mother-in-law of all spankings. The roller-coaster derailed, flew off the tracks, and landed in a tree.

This had seemed to have all the makings of a close game. However, you can have all the makings of a succulent roast lamb for your Sunday lunch, but still end up with an undercooked doner kebab instead. Ultimately, their lack of boundary-clouters in both top- and middle-order proved costly. As did their inability to take the initiative against good-quality spin. As did injuries to, and loss of form by key players. As did their lack of bowling experience in the subcontinent – of the five bowlers in Colombo, Swann had played 10 ODIs in Asia before this World Cup, and the rest had mustered 7 between them.

All these factors proved costly, totting up to an enormous and ultimately unpayable bill. England had been living on credit throughout the group phase. Their cards were cancelled in Colombo.

Sri Lanka played an outstanding match, suffocating England with the ball, then batting with aggression and calculated risk to decide the game in the early overs of their innings. Tharanga and Dilshan became the second pair of openers both to score hundreds in the same World Cup innings, following on from their predecessors Dilshan and Tharanga two weeks previously in Pallekelle. (It was the 23rd time this has happened in an ODI, and remarkably Sri Lanka have been responsible for five of them within the last five years, with Tharanga involved in four.)

If the cricket proved one-sided, there was an intriguing clash of statistics. Much was made of the fact that Sri Lanka had failed in nine of their last 10 chases at the Premadasa under lights (and only succeeded in a facile overhauling of Kenya’s 142 at this World Cup). Less was made of the fact that they had succeeded in nine of their last 11 chases of 200 or more in all ODIs, or that their two failures had been in pursuit of scores much higher than 230. Statistic B romped home to a convincing victory, proving once again the only theory that every stat has an equal and opposite counter-stat.

Tactically, however, you have to ask questions of England. The masterplan ‒ not to hit the ball very hard so that it would not become roughed up and assist Malinga’s reverse swing ‒ was, in hindsight, an ill-conceived gamble. And not taking any Sri Lankan wickets at all made absolutely no strategic sense whatsoever.

England can also point to considerable back luck with key bowlers being absent. Broad went home injured, Flintoff had retired, Botham was busy doing telly work, Trueman, Laker and Larwood all failed fitness tests, and probably England’s key bowler, early 20th-century legend S.F. Barnes, demanded too much money. The ECB had no choice but to pick Luke Wright instead. If only those men had been available, it could have been a very different story.

England supporters should not be too downhearted, however. Australia went out at the same quarter-final stage, so, as holders, England keep the Ashes. And at least the players will have been relieved to arrive back in London to find that the ECB had not organised a 5-game ODI series with Croatia starting on Thursday, as they must have feared would be the case.

EXTRAS

● I went to the PCA in Mohali yesterday to see the Indian team practise. The game might have been three days away, but I thought I would take the opportunity afforded by my press pass to try to see the likes of Sehwag and Tendulkar at close quarters. I have to report that they looked in dreadful form. Well short of international standard, with little control over where the ball was going.

Admittedly, they were playing football. Not cricket. So we should probably not read too much into it. I can confirm, however, that when the young Sachin decided to focus his sporting attention on cricket rather than football, he made the right decision. Without any doubt. Whatsoever.

● A sad casualty of England’s defeat is the much-anticipated Hollywood blockbuster based on their rocky road to World Cup redemption through turbulent ups and downs before culminating in a heroic against-the-odds victory over the Soviet Union in the final. Production has been put in abeyance, at least until 2015.

Action hero Vin Diesel can start taking pantomime bookings again – he is not going to be spending next winter filming his role as Ian Bell. Diesel’s agent reported that the star is “devastated”. Scarlett Johannson, meanwhile, is reported to have withdrawn from her part-time evening course learning how to speak with a Yorkshire accent. Her lifelong dream of depicting Tim Bresnan may now have to wait until his biopic is made.

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

  • Kumar Sridhar on June 10, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    Scarlett Johannson portraying Tim Bresnen!! I am not sure who should be more offended, Scarlett or Tim (or flattered!). Sachin making the right choice and staying away from soccer!! .HILARIOUS!!

    Keep it coming, Andy..we need this humor!!

  • Donbanda on May 17, 2011, 2:01 GMT

    You have done it again Mr Z. I have to rush to hospital now as I laughed so much my haemarrhoids jumped out to join the party! Please cover the SriLanka-England test matches as well.

  • Eskay on March 29, 2011, 8:35 GMT

    AZ...pure genius! Rumour has it that ECB devised a cunning exit plan to prevent the rest of the team succumbing to depression and flying home by the time England made it to the finals. They would have been left without a squad, and would have to avail services of Messrs Atherton, Botham and Husain.

  • fauzer on March 29, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    hey funny stuff!! hope sl doesn't end up on the receiving end any time soon. go sri lanka!!

  • Susheel on March 29, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    Should give credit to England though. Why? Had England not lost the way they did we would have been deprived of such a wonderfull article from you AZ. Any way, all the best to SA and Eng in the next edition of the cup.

  • Manzur Khan on March 29, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    Outstanding stuff.....I wish India and Pakistan will someday learn to take defeat like you did....and do not bring religion and politics into sports.....but may be not in our life time....i wish there was a statistical way in which both India and Pakistan could lose......

  • Raihan Sharif on March 29, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    Laughed till tears ran down my cheeks!

  • Kalana on March 29, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Hey Andy...beautiful article... if you can see please tell us how did your performance in dhaka go??

  • sri on March 29, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Made my day.. "The masterplan ‒ not to hit the ball very hard so that it would not become roughed up and assist Malinga’s reverse swing ‒ was, in hindsight, an ill-conceived gamble." Awesome AZ, my allegiances are shifted to you - a break from Shewagology, till the portly bugger gets his mojo back!

  • sennLanka on March 29, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    Andy that was hilarious...... "The masterplan ‒ not to hit the ball very hard so that it would not become roughed up and assist Malinga’s reverse swing" You really had me thinking there mate....

    And Scarlett Johannson....oh golly...... Poor lad Tim Bresnan will never have a normal day in the locker room now.....

  • Kumar Sridhar on June 10, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    Scarlett Johannson portraying Tim Bresnen!! I am not sure who should be more offended, Scarlett or Tim (or flattered!). Sachin making the right choice and staying away from soccer!! .HILARIOUS!!

    Keep it coming, Andy..we need this humor!!

  • Donbanda on May 17, 2011, 2:01 GMT

    You have done it again Mr Z. I have to rush to hospital now as I laughed so much my haemarrhoids jumped out to join the party! Please cover the SriLanka-England test matches as well.

  • Eskay on March 29, 2011, 8:35 GMT

    AZ...pure genius! Rumour has it that ECB devised a cunning exit plan to prevent the rest of the team succumbing to depression and flying home by the time England made it to the finals. They would have been left without a squad, and would have to avail services of Messrs Atherton, Botham and Husain.

  • fauzer on March 29, 2011, 7:56 GMT

    hey funny stuff!! hope sl doesn't end up on the receiving end any time soon. go sri lanka!!

  • Susheel on March 29, 2011, 7:39 GMT

    Should give credit to England though. Why? Had England not lost the way they did we would have been deprived of such a wonderfull article from you AZ. Any way, all the best to SA and Eng in the next edition of the cup.

  • Manzur Khan on March 29, 2011, 7:25 GMT

    Outstanding stuff.....I wish India and Pakistan will someday learn to take defeat like you did....and do not bring religion and politics into sports.....but may be not in our life time....i wish there was a statistical way in which both India and Pakistan could lose......

  • Raihan Sharif on March 29, 2011, 7:11 GMT

    Laughed till tears ran down my cheeks!

  • Kalana on March 29, 2011, 7:05 GMT

    Hey Andy...beautiful article... if you can see please tell us how did your performance in dhaka go??

  • sri on March 29, 2011, 5:54 GMT

    Made my day.. "The masterplan ‒ not to hit the ball very hard so that it would not become roughed up and assist Malinga’s reverse swing ‒ was, in hindsight, an ill-conceived gamble." Awesome AZ, my allegiances are shifted to you - a break from Shewagology, till the portly bugger gets his mojo back!

  • sennLanka on March 29, 2011, 4:26 GMT

    Andy that was hilarious...... "The masterplan ‒ not to hit the ball very hard so that it would not become roughed up and assist Malinga’s reverse swing" You really had me thinking there mate....

    And Scarlett Johannson....oh golly...... Poor lad Tim Bresnan will never have a normal day in the locker room now.....

  • Shalindra Fernando on March 29, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    Great post Andy. I am amazed at how you come up with these hilarious statements and amazing anecdotes - things like the England bowlers having played only a handful of matches in the sub continent.

    My contribution: Sri Lanka tried their very best to make a match of it by dropping 3 gettable catches and not going upstairs for an UDR. Even then, England could not make the most of it.

  • Bombay boy on March 29, 2011, 1:49 GMT

    Bloody Brilliant. At this point I think a Hollywood blockbuster about the Ashes victory would probably sell more tickets than England's World cup campaign. Unless of course it's a movie about roller coaster rides that end abruptly with a 90 degree drop.

  • eman on March 29, 2011, 1:07 GMT

    You probably haven't heard. They wanted a good spinner for the sub-continental pitches, but Fred Titmus excused himself.

    Also, India is trying for the soccer world cup, now that Afridi's boys look too formidable.

  • rahul on March 29, 2011, 0:22 GMT

    Andy, can you shed some light on why do teams prepare for big matches by playing football, volleyball, kho-kho and every other game rather than cricket? Imagine someone kicking Tendulkar's shins and knocking him out of the next match.

  • Saurabh Gupta on March 28, 2011, 23:57 GMT

    You sir.. are clearly the Sachin Tendulkar of cricket humor. I rarely laugh out loud reading an article. Best piece for me was -

    "A sad casualty of England’s defeat is the much-anticipated Hollywood blockbuster based on their rocky road to World Cup redemption through turbulent ups and downs before culminating in a heroic against-the-odds victory over the Soviet Union in the final."

    I must say that I never expected Soviet Union in this - this is plain brilliant!!

  • Himadri Nayak on March 28, 2011, 23:33 GMT

    Hi Andy I do not know if you are going to read this post, but I have to ask you a thing. Have you felt coming to India that sometimes people laugh at your jokes without making them out and sometimes they laugh at you even if your verbal offerings were not intended to be joke (rather I should say "ragging-wit")? Sometimes I feel your wit is not intended to make people blast in laugh but to nervously smile at their own inability to express themselves so cut throat but "fantasy-full-way".

  • Tone on March 28, 2011, 23:05 GMT

    Shame oh shame, a lack of irony/satire bypass posts. Tip top now get back on the bl**dy phone and talk some sh**e to that ponce Oliver.

    All the best

    T,

  • Thomas Abraham on March 28, 2011, 20:36 GMT

    Very funny article. Long live King Zaltz!

  • prav on March 28, 2011, 20:27 GMT

    thaks for entertainment

  • Aditya Shamlal on March 28, 2011, 19:15 GMT

    The part where i cracked up was "England supporters should not be too downhearted, however. Australia went out at the same quarter-final stage, so, as holders, England keep the Ashes."

    I thought that was fantastic, it shows just how much you poms love the ashes, no world-cup could ever compare ;)

  • Ravi on March 28, 2011, 19:14 GMT

    andy no matter what the subject, you'd always had a special line ready for good ol' ian bell, your 'flamethrower of eternal justice'!

  • bugzy on March 28, 2011, 17:39 GMT

    I don't think I can ever look at Scarlett Johannson's photos with lustful eyes again. On the other hand, watching Tim Bresnan run in to bowl suddenly feels worth it.

  • Simon B on March 28, 2011, 17:28 GMT

    Why is no-one talking about the real culprits in this sad England exit? Who might that be, you ask? ..... Slazenger.

    There was a clear conspiracy with Eoin "Get Out of Jail Free" Morgan's bat construction. A small explosive charge was obviously placed in the bottom quarter of his bat, which was detonated by remote control just as England were about to take their Powerplay and Morgan looked in form to slap a few boundaries, thus throwing him off his game.

    Dirty, dirty tactics.

    I haven't yet worked out how they managed to repel Swann's ball from the stumps (I'm guessing some kind of matter / anti-matter oojamaflip), but I will not rest until the answer is revealed.

    Andy, thank you for your articles. The one thing that kept me positive after the game was knowing that you'd write a fantastic piece about it!

    Time to switch allegiance to Sri Lanka.....

  • abh on March 28, 2011, 17:26 GMT

    U ROCK ZALTZMAN

  • Kush on March 28, 2011, 17:22 GMT

    Smiply Witty and Exceptionally Brilliant. This is my first time reading your blog/article/scribbling... and I am kicking myslef for depriving myself of this experience. And just for the record, I read somewhere today, three Aussie Actors have been signed for this movie, they have started the training, just to come up to the high and competitive standards set by the English.

  • ravi on March 28, 2011, 17:01 GMT

    very much like the "yenjvoy" comment... even more than the blog......

  • Dev on March 28, 2011, 16:29 GMT

    You sir are hilarious!!!!!

  • 1 on March 28, 2011, 16:18 GMT

    cute. Though your cynicism lacks sincerity. If you are in the mood for laughs, read the comics and not the sports section. Atheletes are not entertainers. Respectfully, 1

  • R Sivasubramaniam on March 28, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    Dear Andy Do you think of Sri Lanka dropped those catches on purpose so that Dilshan & Tharanga could get hundreds? Imagine if they had taken Morgan's first offering, Egland would have scored less than 200! Siva from Singapore

  • A Natu on March 28, 2011, 16:10 GMT

    Scarlett Johannson will play Stuart Broad instead, who was deteremined to be too feminine to play himself.

  • Charindra on March 28, 2011, 16:08 GMT

    I'm Sri Lankan, but I totally get your humour! "The masterplan ‒ not to hit the ball very hard so that it would not become roughed up and assist Malinga’s reverse swing ‒ was, in hindsight, an ill-conceived gamble." LMAO!!

  • as on March 28, 2011, 15:41 GMT

    laughed out loud, brilliant!

  • pulasthi on March 28, 2011, 14:52 GMT

    yeah great article.. feel for england.. ;)

  • Viv on March 28, 2011, 14:42 GMT

    Excellent article Andy! Thoroughly loved reading it. Reading your article will lift my spirits in the event of a semi-final exit for India.

  • Dijo on March 28, 2011, 14:33 GMT

    Awesome che bapu!!!

  • thephilosopher on March 28, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    Surely, the mother-in-law of all Page 2 articles! Such a comic relief when compared to the tripe dished out by pretenders like Anand Ramachandran et al

  • none on March 28, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    England is planning to make up the deficit in the second innings

  • Vipul on March 28, 2011, 13:20 GMT

    did i sense some anger and frustration towards the English team? Cant blame you though..

  • Rohan on March 28, 2011, 13:18 GMT

    Couldn't stop laughing, very witty. As a Sri Lankan I really wish we had the same ability as the English to laugh at oneself, it's a rare quality.

  • BDF on March 28, 2011, 13:14 GMT

    LOL @ the ScarJo comment.

  • Dinesh on March 28, 2011, 13:10 GMT

    Andy at his usual best!

  • A P Venkatesh on March 28, 2011, 13:09 GMT

    Humour at its brilliant best. Wonder what is your take on South Africa with their neck perenially on the choking (oops chopping) block. Looking forward to your write up on the Indo-Pak humdinger.

  • Prakash on March 28, 2011, 13:01 GMT

    Probably English might have felt they have done enough to advertise the game in the league phase (as advised by ICC). They thought the knockout games can take care of themselves with India - Pakistan SF clash finalized before their match.

  • Capt. Ram on March 28, 2011, 12:58 GMT

    You are one hilarious wordsmith, with the zaniest sense of humour..

  • omar on March 28, 2011, 12:45 GMT

    "All these factors proved costly, totting up to an enormous and ultimately unpayable bill. England had been living on credit throughout the group phase. Their cards were cancelled in Colombo."

    I wonder how they returned home, First Class?

  • Hang li on March 28, 2011, 12:18 GMT

    Felt desperation to be funny here.... Zaltz, would prefer your blogs in Conf'y Stall anytime over these hastily made up words. I know it takes time to come up with funny blogs...so spend some more time on them.

  • DAJ on March 28, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    Lovely.

  • yenjvoy on March 28, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    You may not know that Tendulkar wears #10 on his ODI shirt because of his admiration for one of his sporting heroes - Diego Armando Maradona. With his short stature, his fro, his body language and his total domination on the football pitch, Maradona was an early inspiration for the young Tendulkar who chose to adopt the Argentinian's number. Back in 1988, when Tendulkar first started playing, Maradona was still fresh in everyone's mind for his magical run in the Mexico world cup, and an inspiration to youngsters all over the world, including to a short boy in Bombay with a similar head of curly hair and a desire to win. This was of course before the downfall of the iconic midfielder due to drugs and the high life in Naples. Thank God Tendulkar did not take inspiration from that side of Maradona.

  • Srivathsa on March 28, 2011, 11:33 GMT

    "Scarlett Johannson, meanwhile, is reported to have withdrawn from her part-time evening course learning how to speak with a Yorkshire accent. Her lifelong dream of depicting Tim Bresnan may now have to wait until his biopic is made." - Funniest :) Cannot stop laughing!

  • Andrew Cowell on March 28, 2011, 11:27 GMT

    I share the same name, but nowhere near the skills of you as a wordsmith. It's all over for us now, roll-on 2015!!!

  • Akshay on March 28, 2011, 11:21 GMT

    S.F.Barnes??? LOL!!!! Andy, you've outdone yourself this time.

  • Mark on March 28, 2011, 11:10 GMT

    I wonder if the hilarity will be as unconfined should, say, India fail to perform.

  • Sam on March 28, 2011, 10:41 GMT

    Brilliant!!!

  • sagir on March 28, 2011, 10:09 GMT

    very wonderfully composed and written Andy ! wish you keep regaling us for many more years to come !

  • Srini on March 28, 2011, 9:57 GMT

    Laughed my heart out at "And not taking any Sri Lankan wickets at all made absolutely no strategic sense whatsoever"...Brilliant work AZ..keep the funny side up!

  • Anonymous on March 28, 2011, 9:56 GMT

    Laughed my heart out at "And not taking any Sri Lankan wickets at all made absolutely no strategic sense whatsoever."- Brilliant AZ..keep the funny side up!

  • Dark Harbinger on March 28, 2011, 9:14 GMT

    Destiny went on a strike! ROFL :D... Playing dice with destiny is not advisable as England found it the hard way by crashing through the gates of reality!... Hilarious all the way through! Easily the best piece of zaltz till date :)

  • Akshay on March 28, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    "every stat has an equal and opposite counter-stat", absolutely GENIUS!

  • Swaroop on March 28, 2011, 8:52 GMT

    Haha, Andy. Farhan just said your English is poor.

  • Tom H on March 28, 2011, 8:42 GMT

    England had to ensure that Sri Lanka's potent middle order of Sangakkara and Jayawardene didn't score any runs and they managed that with aplomb!

  • ricardo de fonseka on March 28, 2011, 8:25 GMT

    absolutely brilliant mate..here is the sri lankan take on the match.. Ricardo de Fonseka...... an english roast cooked by a team of sri lankan chefs on a balmy evening at a kitchen called the premadasa served up with a specail "230" sauce accompanied by a "no wicket" salad. despite the slippery fingers, i enjoyed the meal very much

  • NALINWIJ on March 28, 2011, 7:55 GMT

    Hilarious. Using an Australian football analogy England ran out of legs.Irish luck favored Morgan in the form of 3 dropped catches and England at least outperformed SL in fielding.

  • Don Braddles on March 28, 2011, 7:48 GMT

    Great humour. Well written!

  • Andrew Dodds on March 28, 2011, 7:14 GMT

    I feel that making it into the last 5 of the world cup represents a significant improvement on the now normal last-16 appearance. Now all we need to do is host the next world cup with group matches starting in early April, and new zealand banned on grounds that they might know what they are doing.

  • Aditya on March 28, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    "Her lifelong dream of depicting Tim Bresnan may now have to wait until his biopic is made."

    How do you even come up with these? LOL!

  • Daison Garvasis on March 28, 2011, 7:04 GMT

    "England had been living on credit throughout the group phase. Their cards were cancelled in Colombo" - you come up with classics in every article but this one was way above all of them!!! Really, true wit!!! Go Andy!!

  • Pashupati Bose. on March 28, 2011, 7:01 GMT

    Incisive and witty. England may have missed Dexter, May and Cowdrey in the middle overs and Colin Milburn up the order.Advice for England and South Africa: play Ludo instead of cricket.

  • david byer on March 28, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    Yer again another very good article. You remind me a little of Ben Elton, i could almost imagine you writing an episode of Blackadder

  • Siddhant Singh on March 28, 2011, 6:11 GMT

    "I have to report that Sehwag n Tendulkar looked in dreadful form. Well short of international standard, with little control over where the ball was going." You frightened me for a while, Zaltz...

  • Osama on March 28, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    andy zaltzmann

    the king

  • Nick on March 28, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    LMAO! Best post ever!!

  • hong lu on March 28, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    You have to agree that by scoring 229 England made sure that they would restrict Sri Lanka to less than 235. That was a masterstroke.

  • Farhan on March 28, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    Just hilarious.. Poor English. It was painful to see the Ashes winners being humbled so thoroughly by Sri Lanka.. they deserved a better exit than that!

  • Anonymous on March 28, 2011, 4:50 GMT

    That was hilarious..Outstanding!! Was awaiting your blog eagerly, wondering how good would the England spanking will be..and I must say, you lived up to the expectations..

    Long live King AZ..

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  • Anonymous on March 28, 2011, 4:50 GMT

    That was hilarious..Outstanding!! Was awaiting your blog eagerly, wondering how good would the England spanking will be..and I must say, you lived up to the expectations..

    Long live King AZ..

  • Farhan on March 28, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    Just hilarious.. Poor English. It was painful to see the Ashes winners being humbled so thoroughly by Sri Lanka.. they deserved a better exit than that!

  • hong lu on March 28, 2011, 5:16 GMT

    You have to agree that by scoring 229 England made sure that they would restrict Sri Lanka to less than 235. That was a masterstroke.

  • Nick on March 28, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    LMAO! Best post ever!!

  • Osama on March 28, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    andy zaltzmann

    the king

  • Siddhant Singh on March 28, 2011, 6:11 GMT

    "I have to report that Sehwag n Tendulkar looked in dreadful form. Well short of international standard, with little control over where the ball was going." You frightened me for a while, Zaltz...

  • david byer on March 28, 2011, 6:37 GMT

    Yer again another very good article. You remind me a little of Ben Elton, i could almost imagine you writing an episode of Blackadder

  • Pashupati Bose. on March 28, 2011, 7:01 GMT

    Incisive and witty. England may have missed Dexter, May and Cowdrey in the middle overs and Colin Milburn up the order.Advice for England and South Africa: play Ludo instead of cricket.

  • Daison Garvasis on March 28, 2011, 7:04 GMT

    "England had been living on credit throughout the group phase. Their cards were cancelled in Colombo" - you come up with classics in every article but this one was way above all of them!!! Really, true wit!!! Go Andy!!

  • Aditya on March 28, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    "Her lifelong dream of depicting Tim Bresnan may now have to wait until his biopic is made."

    How do you even come up with these? LOL!