England June 1, 2011

If Cook don’t get ya, Trott will

An appraisal of England’s fine pair of anaesthesiologists

Saturday, 28th May Watching Cook and Trott bat today it occurred to me, in those brief moments between naps, that the medical profession is missing a trick. Such is the anaesthetic potential of England’s most prolific run-gatherers that it can’t be long before doctors are prescribing a dose of Trott and Cook for insomniacs, and anaesthetists are playing unedited highlights of their exploits to patients about to undergo minor surgery.

How to describe them doing their thing today? It was like watching two brick walls, each recently painted a different shade of grey, in order to find out which would dry first. And when they weren’t dull, they were annoying, particularly Trott, whose excavatory habit has reached the outer limits of screamingly irritating. Watching him is like sitting on a train next to someone who continually drums their fingers. Or listening to Danny Morrison commentate for more than 45 seconds.

Sunday, 29th May IPL viewing figures are down. This is not surprising. There has been much talk of a tipping point in audience interest, but I think it’s not so much a tipping point as a choking point. For example, I think I’d enjoy being hand-fed from a bowl of peeled grapes but not if 74 grapes were shoved into my gullet in rapid succession whilst someone was pinching my nose and holding my jaws open. It would be even less pleasant if the forced grape-gorging were to be accompanied by Siva shouting in my ear that I was experiencing a Citi Moment of Indigestion.

Monday, 30th May What a silly match. Some argue that this is the beauty of Test cricket, that for four days nothing occurs, then, long after everyone has gone home, something happens. This isn’t much of an argument or a selling point. It’s like promoting a package holiday tour and promising that 80% of the time you’ll be bored out of your skull, but things will really pick up just before you catch your flight home. Fine, well, in that case, let’s just cut to the chase. One afternoon, 20 overs a side. We could even give it a catchy name, like “Twenty20” or some such.

The final day’s high jinks were not the only silly thing about this Test. A year ago KP was undone hilariously by Shakib Al Hasan, and in Cardiff his contortions against Herath were similarly comic, his limbs flailing in all directions, like a giraffe learning to ice skate, as he contrived to discover hitherto unseen menace in one of Rangana‘s slow straightish ones. But like the punchline to your favourite comedy sketch, the fact that you know it’s coming doesn’t make it any less amusing.

Tuesday, 31st May I’m not sure how many times Shahid Afridi has retired. Statsguru is no help on the matter, since it fails to list this or many other statistical player essentials, such as number of breaches of the ICC Code of Conduct, pages in autobiography, tweets per day and so on. This latest Afridi sabbatical would require a new column in the records as it is a “conditional” retirement – conditional, that is, upon the entire PCB being replaced. I love Shahid, but he is flakier than a crate of breakfast cereal, and he has now achieved the remarkable feat of making Ijaz Butt look like a reasonable man for five minutes.

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England