July 20, 2011

Now he’s the enforcer, now he isn’t

Saturday, 16th July Sri Lanka’s new interim coach has warned his players to be wary of Australia.

Saturday, 16th July Sri Lanka’s new interim coach has warned his players to be wary of Australia.

“They will be like a wounded tiger after losing the Ashes and the World Cup and they will be hungry.”

A wounded tiger? Really? I don’t blame Rumesh for trying to whip up a bit of pre-series hype, but I fear those Sri Lankans who do turn up expecting a wounded tiger are going to be a bit disappointed when they find themselves watching an asthmatic possum with a dodgy hip.

Sunday, 17th July The ICC is toying with the idea of a timeless Test to settle the Test Championship in 2013. I’m all for taking Test cricket back to its roots, but I’m not sure they’ve really thought this one through. Let me spell out for you the potential horror of the situation.

This Championship-deciding Test match could conceivably involve England. England means Cook and Trott. On a Lord’s featherbed. For days on end. And that, my friends, is clearly a violation of the UN Convention on Human Rights.

Monday, 18th July There’s a spot of bother at Team England HQ and it’s all to do with English cricket’s favourite blond. Apart from holding the world record for teapotting and being handy with a scowl, just what exactly is Stuart’s role?

“We want him to be the enforcer in our team. There is no better bowler in the world than Stuart at bowling bouncers.”

David Saker, England’s bowling facilitator, spells it out for us. Apart from the fact that the baby-faced Broad is only slightly more intimidating than James Anderson, which is to say, not very intimidating at all, that does at least make it clear why the lanky tantrum-thrower is in the team. But hang on a minute.

“I’ve heard some crazy stuff about him being an enforcer. His job is not to rough up the opposition. It is not to be this ridiculous enforcer.”

So says Andy Flower. Now I don’t know what to think. Next time Stuart fires it ineffectively down the leg side, do we assume it’s an enforcement wide to rough up the fine-leg fielder, or a putting-it-on-a-nagging-length kind of wide?

And when you add his neither-one-thing-nor-the-other-bowling to his occasionally effective but often disappointing batting, it seems that Broad is in danger of becoming the classiest bits-and-pieces player in English cricket. Never mind the new Ian Botham, at the moment he’s the new Mark Ealham.

Tuesday, 19th July What is it with Steve Waugh and lie detectors? He’s been banging on about them again today. Was he a big Jerry Springer fan? Or is he just taking his theory of mental disintegration to the next level? This time he went to the trouble of getting himself all wired up. He knows he isn’t corrupt, you see, so just by passing the test he proved that it works. Unless he was lying, of course.

Anyway, polygraphs are so dull. There must be other unscientific methods of rooting out corruption that are a bit edgier. How about graphology? I bet dodgy cricketers have really shifty-looking vowels. Maybe we could scrutinise tea leaves. I happen to know, for example, that after questioning by police, the dregs in Salman Butt’s mug apparently formed themselves into a perfect $ sign. And of course, there’s always astrology: “With the moon in Venus at the moment, Pisceans will be particularly susceptible to accepting brown envelopes from strangers in hotel bars.”

Andrew Hughes is a writer currently based in England

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