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Saturday, 7th May Shahid Afridi is a little boy, albeit a boy with a handsome beard and a mild case of media Tourette’s, but a boy nonetheless. He fidgets, he shouts, he claps, he swings wildly, he poses, he gabbles incessantly to his bowlers whether they like it or not. Life is a birthday party and he wants to open all his presents at once. Sometimes he gets a little over-tired, turns into Shahid Huffridi and stomps off in a sulk.
Naturally he wants to be in charge of picking the team. I’m sure he’d quite like to drive the bus too, and given half a chance, he’d take the kit home to wash, although he’d probably overdo the detergent, flood the kitchen, dismantle the washing machine, storm out of the house, come back half an hour later and try to eat one of the pipes before fixing everything with one hand whilst trying to break the world yo-yo record with the other.
Sadly it seems that Shahid is outliving his welcome in some quarters, which is a shame, so perhaps he should do the sensible thing and let Waqar have his say selection-wise. Besides, given some of the peculiar selections that Pakistan have come up with in recent months, you’d have thought a degree of plausible deniability would be useful to a captain. Don’t blame me, it was Waqar who picked the team…
Sunday, 8th May It did not occur to me last week, when the elevation of Broad jnr was announced, that there wasn’t in fact a vacancy for him to be promoted to. It had completely slipped my mind that England already had a Twenty20 captain, which is unforgivable, because he was rather a good one too. Wee Colly may not be pretty, but then in the credit column, he rarely pouts on the field of play, and he did bring home a trophy.
The old ginger stonewaller talked about his successor’s “fast-thinking brain”, which was decent of him, but it doesn’t really tell the whole story. The newest England captain does have a brain, we can be sure of that, but it’s a brain that throws up a range of thoughts, not all of which are absolutely top drawer, and some of which, if acted upon, can lead to a string of detentions and a severely reduced pocket money allowance.
Monday, 9th May Peter Roebuck has written an article in the Hindu criticising the scheduling of only two Tests between South Africa and Australia. It is a shame that these great cricket nations will not be playing more Tests, although the layman might humbly suggest that if people were interested in turning up to watch these matches, Cricket South Africa would be staging them. But then his article took an odd turn, thus:
“Cricket is not in its right mind. Instead it has been taken over by apologists whose thoughts turn to the frenzied mob and the bottom line.”
Hmm. Frenzied mob? Well no one likes a mob, and frenzied mobs are just about the worst kind of mob you can get. Shame on them, I thought. And then I started to think. How can we spot these mobs, so we can avoid them? Who are they? Where do they come from? And then it struck me. He means us. You and me.
But not all the time. Let me explain. If you troll along to a Test match in your best slacks, spiffing tie and panama, you’re a connoisseur of all that is noble and fine in the game and good luck to you. Well done. However, if the following month you take your seats in Bangalore to watch a Twenty20 game then you (yes you!) are a frenzied mob in the making. Frankly, you should be ashamed of yourselves.
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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